Visualizing Mythology: Using Universal Design for Learning to Teach Greek Mythology 

HHDem
Sketch note of Homeric Hymn to Demeter. CC-BY Alison Innes @InnesAlison

The Classical Association of Canada/Société Canadienne des Études Classiques
McMaster University
7 May 2019

Lianne Fisher, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, Brock University
Email: lfisher@brocku.ca
Twitter: @liannefisher

Alison Innes, Brock University
Email: ainnes@brocku.ca
Twitter: @innesalison

The relationship between learning, note taking and class preparation is not always articulated, or explicitly taught to students. These skills can be challenging to teach along with course content in introductory classes. Our recent redesign of a first-year mythology course sought to introduce students to a variety of note taking skills, while practicing close reading and textual analysis.

By incorporating the idea of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we encouraged students to engage with various methods of organizing information including Cornell notes, annotating text, and sketchnoting. Over the course of the semester, students practiced visual note taking skills alongside traditional written responses in weekly assignments. Such assignments challenged students to translate their knowledge of a text into a non-textual format, challenging and deepening their learning experience. Visual note taking is a natural fit for the teaching of mythology, as myths were experienced in audio and visual formats in the ancient world, through storytelling, art, and theatre.

A key part of UDL is allowing students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning beyond the traditional essay format. Students were given the option to submit their final essay as a visual essay. We developed clear assessment guidelines to ensure such assignments were equally rigorous to written essays. A selection of these were digitized and displayed in the university library, allowing students to participate in the production and mobilization of scholarship. With the students’ permission we will share some of these educational artefacts in this session.

Key to the success of the course was supporting the Teaching Assistant team. Through a series of workshops, TAs had the opportunity to learn ways in which they could model information organization strategies in the classroom. This provided first-year graduate student TAs the opportunity to engage critically with pedagogy.

Acknowledgements

  • Dr. Anton Jansen, Instructor, Brock University Department of Classics
  • Darrin Sunstrum, Course Coordinator, Brock University Department of Classics
  • Giulia Forsythe, Associate Director, Brock University Centre for Pedagogical Innovation
  • Teaching Assistants and students of CLAS 1P95, Fall 2017

Download slideshow PDF

Alison’s Cornell Note Resources

Worksheet: Timeline

Worksheet: Comparison

Worksheet: Annotating Text

Visual Essay Assignment Instructions

Visual Essay Reflection

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