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William Russell Flint from a version of The Odyssey, published in 1924, with desperate female perhaps the ever patient Penelope.

This week’s focus and sharing of one word has intensified many concepts both in terms of word study and in terms of understanding of characters and heroes from Greek myth. Students are referring effortlessly to etymology, roots, morphology and affixes and base elements- all understand the difference between free and bound, and are using sources such as word searcher, the mini matrix maker, and trusty Online Etymology Dictionary. All students are familiar with plot and character from the Odyssey and Perseus. We are examining the role of the hero in class and looking at the commonalities between these Greek hero myths.

Students have worked collaboratively- they have had to divide the task into making, in some cases, a host of characters. They have planned what is essential to reveal about the word and how it ties into myths, and practised many times ‘hiring’ others to help where necessary. They scrunch together on the floor huddling around a small sheet of white paper and slide words, morphemes and characters off and onto the paper. The Common Craft genre forces collaboration. Every day students have burst into the room before class to get on with it or worked through lunch in a frenzy to create and make characters, and show how roots bloom into modern English base elements. All students have participated. For those learning English, it has given them a safe place to practise and rehearse. It has opened our eyes to hidden talents within the class- the artists and dramatists. Students have had to negotiate, correct and direct one another and they have all applauded and given positive feedback to each group. With this focus on a word and in bringing it to dramatic life , all have stated that they have a deeper understanding of etymology and morphology.

Here is a small sampling: ‘in plain English’  :the chant of the Common Craft explanation videos. We have attempted to work within this genre.

We all love this poem by the acerbic Dorothy Parker which reveals  to the feminists in the class, a pithy comment about heroism:


In the pathway of the sun,
In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
He shall ride the silver seas,
He shall cut the glittering wave.
I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor’s knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
They will call him brave.

Dorothy Parker