Susan Riley | March 2016

Arts Integration Unit: An Improvised Odyssey

Last week, we made a major announcement to our subscribers that we will now be offering FREE arts integration and STEAM units.  These units have everything you need to support a robust arts integration or STEAM unit in your class.  Each unit includes all of the standards, materials, resources, videos, hands-on activities, and assessments that you need.  All in one location.  We’re super excited about it and so far, the feedback has been tremendous. We called this arts integration unit as An Improvised Odyssey.

It’s our goal to release a new unit to you each week, and the units will span grades K-12.  Today, we’re releasing our first high school unit!  This arts integration unit is called An Improvised Odyssey and it connects the speaking and listening standards with music standards focusing on improvisation and performance.

The objective of this An Improvised Odyssey unit is to help students to understand and use the structure and connection between epic poetry and historical artistic improvisation methods.  Students use Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, as well as various Rap Battles and musical improvisation to explore how writers create a Hero’s Journey through the acts of speaking and listening.

Often, epic poems can be difficult for high school students to connect to on a personal level, much less decipher the difficult level of text.  By teaching the idea of epic poetry as an act of speaking and listening about a topic that is of significant cultural or heroic importance through improvisation students are much more inclined to work through the text itself to build an understanding of the oral and written tradition.  We do recommend teaching this unit either in conjunction with or right after reading The Odyssey with your students.


In order to view and use our An Improvised Odyssey units, you’ll need to create a free account on EducationCloset.  Don’t worry – when you click on the unit, you’ll be taken immediately to a page that asks you to either login or register.  Once you complete that process (it takes less than a minute!), you’ll have access to all of the units we are creating.  I hope you enjoy this new feature and that it helps save you some valuable time in your classroom!

We’d love your feedback: what do you think of the An Improvised Odyssey units so far?  What would you like to see us add in the future?

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan