Groovy Greeks: An Overview of the Ancient Greeks for Context

I love reading A Midsummer Night's Dream with my kids.  Over the years I've realized that a lot of them do not have the context to understand the first scene of the play.  I discovered the animated show Horrible Histories while searching for a quick way to give them that context in a way that they'd actually pay attention.  To make sure that they did while watching, I created a guided questioning handout.  I also realized that the video wasn't going to be enough.  So I found an article on CommonLit that dissects the class system.  Because students need to understand Hermia's plight and why the mechanicals are the comedic relief (I use a subsequent lesson to drive this idea home), the assessment is two paragraphs where they have to use both resources to explain what life was like for women and the working class.  

The lesson plan is below.  If you're interested in the handout I use, you can find it in my TPT store here.

Groovy Greeks

Introduction to the Ancient Greeks for context using multimedia and non-fiction synthesis

Things You Will Need to Teach This Lesson:

·        Instructions
·        Horrible Histories Season 1, Episode 6: Groovy Greeks
o   Can be found on Amazon for $1.99 here
·        “Greek Society” by Mark Cartwright
o   This article can be found on CommonLit here.  Guided and discussion questions and extension activities are included with the article from CommonLit.
·        Groovy Greeks handout


Activity One: Horrible Histories
Introduce this lesson.  Put the Ancient Greeks into whatever context you are studying.  For example, when I use this lesson to introduce the Ancient Greeks to the students for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I explain the rediscovery of Ancient Greek and Roman texts and how they were part of the English Renaissance and gave artists, like Shakespeare, inspiration for their work.  Thus we need to have context about the inspiration to understand the subsequent work.
Then I show the video.  For my AP kids, I let it run straight through while they fill in the handout.  However, if the students need extra help, I will stop the video after it has answered some of the guided questions and discuss the information with the class.  Keep in mind, questions 5 and 9 require that the students have watched the entire video to answer them.  Here is a list of times to stop the video:
Question #1- 3:25
Question #2- 6:21
Question #3- 8:26
Question #4- 9:44
Question #6- 11:41
Question #7- 13:19
Question #8- 19:14

Activity Two: Greek Society
After the video, I then explain that, while the video is great as an introduction to Ancient Greece, it doesn’t really cover the social structure of the time, which is a huge deal in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Therefore, as a class we read “Greek Society” by Mark Cartwright.  Depending on the level of your kids, this article can be read whole group, individually, or with something like a jigsaw.  The guided questions that come from CommonLit are an awesome way to assess student comprehension.
Activity Three: Synthesis Assignment
Using both the Horrible Histories episode and “Greek Society,” I then ask the students to synthesize how women and the working class were treated in Ancient Greece. Students are to write a paragraph using text evidence to support their response.
This assignment can be done individually or with support based on the needs of your students.

And that is all she wrote, folks!