For this essay assignment, I have students RHA (read, highlight, and annotate) the song sung by the Sirens in The Odyssey and the Margaret Atwood poem “Siren Song” (I do not do this assignment with the Enriched students because “Siren Song” has been used as an AP poem in the past). Students then have to look at the elements of persuasion used by the Sirens in each piece and then compare/contrast the attitudes and behaviors exhibited by the mythical creatures as part of their persuasive technique.
This fits in well with the PARCC framework and the Common Core Standards’ push toward examining persuasive writing and creating arguments. The students have to explain how the Sirens attempted to persuade their victims in each piece.
As an opener, we also do a Visible Thinking Exercise using John Waterhouse’s painting, “Ulysses and The Sirens”:
Sirens Essay Assignment
Your Task: Select one point of comparison and two points of contrast regarding the behaviors and attitudes of the Sirens from the epic The Odyssey attributed to Homer and the poem “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood.
- Introduction- what it means to be tempted by beauty or by a call of distress. What is a Siren? Build to thesis statement.
- Body (remember to focus on behaviors and attitudes of the Sirens in each piece)
- Point of comparison between the two pieces (use two chunks)
- Point of contrast between the two pieces (use two chunks)
- A different point of contrast between the two pieces (use two chunks)