part two of a two-part story by Susan Hall , illustrated by Greg Holfeld

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse representations of heroes in stories so that I can create stories that feature unexpected heroes.

Success Criteria

  • I can identify personality traits common to most heroes.
  • I can analyse a character to identify ways they are typical and untypical of a hero.
  • I can compose a story about a character with a goal.
  • I can feature an unexpected hero in my story.


Essential knowledge:


View the video Character from the English Textual Concepts. Discuss the main ideas in the video, ensuring students note the following:

  • That characters in stories have their own unique personalities, emotions, wants and feelings
  • What happens to characters that create the action in narratives?
  • What is the motivation or goal of the main characters?




Display the word ‘hero’. Create a mind-map on the board by listing vocabulary that students associate with the word ‘hero’ around it. Then, connect further words associated with those added to create a map. For example, ‘superhero’ could be connected to the word ‘hero’ then ‘Wonderwoman’, ‘Superman’, ‘Aquaman’, could be noted around the word ‘superhero’.

Discuss the key attributes of heroes and add these to the mind-map on the board. For example, that they are:

  • Brave
  • Strong
  • Fearless
  • Selfless
  • They overcome challenges through their physical and mental strength


Understanding text:


Read the beginning of Pompeii, up to the end of page 4, or listen to the audio file if you have a digital subscription.

Discuss the following:

  • What is the character Lucius‘ goal? (To persuade his father, Atilius, to take the family to safety as he is worried the mountain, Vesuvius, is behaving strangely)
  • Does it seem that Lucius will be correct about his prediction that the mountain poses a danger? (Responses may vary, some students may observe that Marius’ agreement with Lucius’ prediction makes it seem more likely while others may think Atilius’ doubts make the risk seem unlikely)

Refer to the list of characteristics students identified earlier for a hero and discuss which students associate with the character Lucius.

  • Brave
  • Strong
  • Fearless
  • Selfless
  • They overcome challenges through their physical and mental strength

Most likely students will conclude that while Lucius is being brave to stand up to his father in spite of his doubts, he isn’t behaving like a typical hero.

Read the remainder of the story or listen to the audio file. Discuss the following:

  • What actions does Lucius take that allows him to achieve his goal? (With Marius’ help, he persuades his father to take the family to the port and to board a boat and travel out to sea when the sky begins raining ash)
  • Which of the personality traits of a hero does Lucius demonstrate? (He is brave to persuade his father to take the family to the port in the face of his father’s doubts, he uses his mental strength and his knowledge of the mountain to overcome challenges)
  • Which traits does he not demonstrate? (He isn’t fearless, in fact the story mentions that ‘fear made his stomach clench’)

Note: Emphasise here that Lucius is an unexpected hero

  • How does it impact engagement for Lucius’ character to differ from the usual expectations of heroes? (It makes the story engaging as readers might not expect Lucius to save his family)

Those with a digital subscription can complete the interactive activity now.


Creating text:


Inform students that they will be experimenting with creating an unexpected hero. Gradually release responsibility by creating a collaborative example first, as outlined below.

Tell students that unexpected heroes work particularly well if at the outset of the story they embody traits that are the antithesis of being a hero. Refer back to the beginning of part two of Pompeii and emphasise that initially it seems possible that Lucius might be mistaken about the mountain posing a danger.

Discuss traits that are the opposite of being a hero by using the ideas recorded on the mind-map. For example, cowardly, nervous, anxious, weak.

Remind students that stories usually feature a character with a goal and refer back to Lucius’ goal (to persuade the family to avoid the danger he anticipates).

Discuss possible goals characters might have and note these on the board. For example:

  • To save their family
  • To right an injustice
  • To stand up for an underdog

Discuss how these might be incorporated into a story that features an unexpected hero. Briefly dot point plot ideas with the students and display these on the board. For example:

  • The character is afraid of the school bully
  • When she sees the school bully pick on a younger child, she knows she must leap to the child’s defense
  • She stands up to the bully and the rest of the class are proud of her

Place students with a partner and instruct them to complete the following steps to plan their own story:

  • Identify a character trait that makes your character an unexpected hero
  • Identify a goal for the character
  • Consider how the character might reach their goal and become an unexpected hero

Once students have planned their stories in pairs, they may choose to compose their story with their partner or independently. If time allows, the story may be composed digitally or using pen and paper.


Students who may require additional support with the planning stage can use the plan created collaboratively to write their story.


Assessment for/as learning

Instruct students to swap stories with another pair/student. Discuss criteria students may use to peer-assess the stories. Sample ideas include:

  • The story features a character trait that makes the character an unexpected hero
  • The character has a clear goal
  • The story describes how the character reaches their goal and becomes an unexpected hero.

Instruct students to read the work of their peers and to respond to the stories using the criteria as a guide. Tell students to use the criteria to identify one area where their peer has done particularly well and one where they might improve.

Allow time for students to discuss their work with each other and provide oral feedback. If time allows, instruct students to edit their work to include the suggestions of their peers.