This is a popular activity that I do with students to teach them about archetypes, compare and contrast, and developing an argument. I’ll change the characters / films based upon who my audience is, but Luke Skywalker v. Harry Potter seems to be the most popular incarnation of this lesson plan. If you have any great tips or anything to add that would make this lesson plan better, please feel free to comment below. The best lesson plans come from sharing and collaborating with others!
Overview & Purpose
To teach students how to organize and write a compare and contrast essay and an argumentative essay using Hero’s Journey, Harry Potter, and Star Wars.
- Students will be able to identify elements and archetypes of the hero’s journey.
- Students will write two essays.
- Students will participate in a classroom debate.
- Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.
- Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- a. Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
- b. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
- c. Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
- d. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
- e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
- Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- a. Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
- b. Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
- c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
- d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
- Various Hero’s Journey Resource (see “Resources” below)
- Compare and Contrast Essay Graphic Organizer (see “Resources” below)
- Argumentative Essay Graphic Organizer (see “Resources” below)
- Index Cards (enough for each student to have one; write “Harry Potter” on half the cards and “Luke Skywalker” on the other half)
- Hero’s Journey Worksheet (see “Resources” below)
- Students will write a compare and contrast essay and / or an argumentative / persuasive essay.
Part I. Hero’s Journey
- Ask students who they believe are heroes and what characteristics make them a hero.
- Teachers will introduce students to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey using any of the videos and articles in “Resources” (see below).
- Show the Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker videos (see “Resources” below).
- Have students complete the Hero’s Journey worksheet for both Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker.
Part II. Compare and Contrast
- Introduce students to compare and contrast essays (see “Resources” below).
- Have students pair up and work on the compare and contrast graphic organizer together (see “Resources” below). They should have their Hero’s Journey worksheet out as they brainstorm how Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker are alike and different.
- Students will work independently to craft a four paragraph essay exploring the similarities and differences between Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker.
Part III. Argumentative / Persuasive
- Introduce students to debate techniques and argumentative essays (see “Resources” below).
- Give each student one of the index cards that have been pre-written with “Harry Potter” and “Luke Skywalker” on them. Divide the class up by the hero on their cards. If it’s a large group, have two Harry Potter groups and two Luke Skywalker groups.
- Groups will list 4-5 reasons why their hero is the best along with 3 pieces of evidence to back up each reason. The group will then rank them by the strongest three reasons.
- Each group will choose someone to speak on behalf of the entire group in the debate to argue the top three reasons why their hero is the best.
- Divide the classroom in half and have those with Harry Potter cards sit on one side of the room and Luke Skywalker on the other side.
- The chosen debaters will be given an allotted time for an opening, rebuttal, and closing remarks.
- End the debate with a class election to see which hero won.
- Students then write an argumentative essay defending their hero (See “Resources” below for graphic organizer).
Compare and Contrast Essay Graphic Organizer
- Shmoop Compare and Contrast (Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SbdJytI9Ps
Argumentative Essay Graphic Organizer
- Argumentative (Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lzGy5gizKg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dKAIUytI1s
Hero’s Journey Resources
Hero’s Journey Worksheet
Star Wars Resources
Harry Potter Resources