Introducing...Skills by Scene!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Created just for you, by Lori

1. How many years was Odysseus a captive on Calypso's island?

2. What does in medias res mean?

3. What name does Odysseus give to Cyclops in order to fool him?

We're friends, right? Ok. Good. Because if we're friends, then this cannot be the whole of your instruction for large texts like The Odyssey. When I work with teachers, one of my primary goals is to help them to see skills first--then the literature. But here's the rub.
  • As English teachers, we truly love our content. It's difficult to allow it to take a backseat or even to teach in excerpts.
  • When working with a large piece--and The Odyssey is by far the largest piece I think most of us work with--it's difficult not to simply power through the plot just to get done.
Introducing...da-da-da-dum...Skills by Scene...a true labor of love! This is the first in what will eventually be a series of large texts--including novels and plays--broken down into teachable chunks with an explicit skill focus and suggested activities. Each chunk is paired with a modern poem with suggested annotations and questioning strategies. To wrap it up, students bring Odysseus home in self-directed and skills-based rotating stations. 

No more study guides, friends! You know what I'm talking about...those awful packets that go chapter by chapter with low-level question after low-level question. And don't you dare tell me your study guide has high-level questions in it because I love you, but I know [and you know] that you most likely get low-level responses. 

Let's start getting ready for next year! Are you ready?!
  • Step 1--THROW AWAY your study guide. If you need support, call a friend to hold your hand while you walk it to the recycle bin. You'll be ok. 
  • Step 2--Take a picture of your trashed study guide and email it to me! 
  • Step 3--Download Skills by Scene--The Odyssey and prepare to teach it like never before.
Thanks for joining me on this new adventure!


  1. I'm doing something like that with Romeo and Juliet right now. The kids like it so much better, and I'm having a lot more fun because I'm not just telling them what the characters are saying. I've had to sacrifice reading every word (much to my teacher friends' dismay) but the loss has between totally worth it. I'll never go back to the study guides and just "powering through."

    1. You are speaking our language! Although it's sad not to read every page of texts we hold near and dear to our hearts, some students struggle with foundational reading skills and, thus, don't enjoy reading. If we break larger works into bite-sized, skill-based chunkc, we can help fill those gaps and foster a love of reading.

      P.S.: We've got something for Romeo and Juliet coming too!

  2. I stumbled on your wonderful site by way of searching for Interactive Notebook ideas. I'm struggling through The Odyssey, asking low-level questions with my 9th graders, who aren't even reading the book. I just watched your videos on Shared Reading. I love everything I've seen here. Question: Would you do the Shared Reading Guided Lessons along with The Odyssey unit, or does it include Shared Reading lessons (from the description it seems like it does)? I'm just wondering if I would use both at the same time since you have said that the Shared Reading is done regardless of your other lessons. Thank you!

    1. Hi there! my apologies for the slow response! I do recommend using Shared Reading and Skills by Scene at the same time. It allows you to teach skills in different settings, and it can help to chunk your lessons.

  3. Do you have anything like this done for Antigone?

    1. I don't have anything for Antigone yet, but look for more Skills by Scene in December!