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Lesson Plan

Audience & Purpose: Evaluating Disney's Changes to the Hercules Myth

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Audience & Purpose: Evaluating Disney's Changes to the Hercules Myth

Grades 5 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Rachel R. Kimrey

Arlington, Tennessee


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson students evaluate the changes Disney made to the myth of "Hercules."  By creating a plot diagram of the “real” myth, students hone in on critical differences.  They then document these changes in a Venn diagram and discuss the role of audience and purpose in Disney's decisions through the Think-Pair-Share strategy.  Finally, students evaluate the changes for themselves in a summary and critique writing activity.

This lesson uses the Disney film Hercules as a model, but can be adapted for use with any film with a companion written mythical version.  See the Films Based on Written Myths handout for more suggestions.

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Plot Diagram:  Students use this interactive tool to document the elements of plot in the myth of Hercules.
Venn Diagram:  Students use this interactive tool to compare the Disney animated film version of the Hercules myth with the real myth.

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Today’s students must become critical consumers of the media that surrounds them.  As Fuller (1996) explains, consumers of media “tend to suspend disbelief when experiencing media, doubts arising only when first-hand knowledge contradicts media messages.”  He continues that media educators “see a widespread need to teach present and future generations how to employ knowledgeably and critically the many media that inform our cultural environment” (62).

In this lesson, students are exposed to the fact that media producers, including trusted sources such as Disney, will make changes based on purpose and audience; students learn to evaluate the media that surrounds them as opposed to accepting it as fact.  As students employ the Think-Pair-Share conversation strategy, they argue and wrestle with the changes to the myth in an authentic learning community.  Since there are no “right” or “wrong” answers, students then reflect on their conversations with a summary and critique that is derived from their own new complex understanding of a piece of non-print media.

Further Reading

Fuller, L.  (1996).  “Media Education:  Where Have We Been?  Where Are We Going?”  English Education, 28(1), 58-66.

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