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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: A Herculean Task

HOW IT WORKS
A Herculean Task is an interdisciplinary program involving English and math that also integrates technology into the English curriculum so it can be aligned with the ELA Standards. In this way, students can be learning content-area material as well as honing their skills to take the new English Regents. Initially, students are introduced to the myth of Hercules in class and they decide which qualities of Hercules are similar to those of our modern day heroes. 

The class separates into cooperative learning groups, where they fill out the triangles in a pie-graph handout with all twelve labors of Hercules and determine which specific qualities he would need to use in order to accomplish those labors. On a second handout, the groups answer teacher-generated questions, this time representing their answers using fractions, decimals, and percentages. Each group presents their answers to an assigned question, and is graded on how persuasively they present their argument. Subsequently, the students complete a third handout that depicts their answers in a box chart. 

Next, students learn how to create graphics of their own choice using Microsoft PowerPoint to depict their answers. A demonstration of Microsoft PowerPoint is given using a computer on wheels and a projector before taking the students into the computer lab. When in the lab, students are asked to determine how computers can help them represent their answers—using fractions, decimals, and percentages— to the teacher-generated questions. Then they pair off to work on creating those graphics. The student-made graphs and box charts are then redistributed to the other cooperative learning groups, who are asked to interpret the information and use it to write a persuasive essay that argues whether Hercules needed strength or intelligence to accomplish his labors. 

THE STUDENTS
A Herculean Task can be used successfully with basic-skills through honor-level classes as part of a unit on mythology. Since the program includes a wide range of learning strategies, it is especially useful when teaching classes that contain students who are being mainstreamed.

THE STAFF
Sandy Del Duca taught English to all grade levels for the past seven years at DeWitt Clinton High School. She developed this program five years ago and implemented it in her ninth grade classes. She has facilitated various staff development workshops, including a series sponsored by the Bronx Superintendent’s Office entitled “Integrating Technology into the English Classroom to Meet the New Regents Standards.” She also participated in preparing a CD-ROM for the district on integrating technology into the classroom. In September, Sandy joined the Manhattan Superintendent's instructional team as a staff developer.

WHAT YOU NEED
In order to replicate this program, teachers will need a copy of the myth of Hercules and the handouts that were created for the program. They will also need a computer on wheels and a projector, as well as access to a computer lab that has Microsoft PowerPoint or another software program that can be used to create graphics.

OVERALL VALUE
The program maximizes the use of technology because it enhances the existing curriculum and is directly aligned with the new English Regents. It uses instructional time effectively since the computer activity is integrated into one specific aspect of a unit, and is focused on the preparation students need to meet the new standards set forth by the State of New York. Moreover, the program’s varied activities address the different learning styles of students while promoting critical thinking skills and encouraging positive social interaction.

Sandy Del Duca's
Dissemination Packet

(pdf file: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

CURRICULUM AREAS
English
Math
Technology

GRADES
Middle School
High School

MORE INFORMATION

Sandy Del Duca
Manhattan Superintendent's Office
122 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10023
212-501-1203

Ms.DelDucaDWC@
worldnet.att.net

 

IMPACT II Catalog 2000-2001
(pdf file: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

 

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