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A Hero's Journey: Movie Edition

Modern society places a hero in a position of struggle only to come off conqueror. Society is packed full of examples of the hero's journey. Both real and imaginary heroes fill movies, books, pop culture, and historical records. We must honor these heroes by viewing and relating their stories to our students' lives. 


High School Language Arts, specifically for grades 9 and 10, but you can adapt the lesson for higher grades 11 and 12.

Common Core Standards


"Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development..., including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details..."


"Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme."

Lesson Objectives

By the end of your lesson, students will be able to

  1. Identify the steps that comprise the hero's journey.
  2. Recognize the villain's purpose as part of the hero's journey. 
  3. Identify various media that portray the hero's journey today.


  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Movie)
  • Worksheet if applicable for your class


As part of your study of the hero's journey, use pop culture to teach the various steps to your students. Using movies is ideal, as students can visually see change, transitions, obstacles, etc. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a perfect movie for teaching the hero's journey.

Ask: What is the hero's journey? (Discuss).

Ask: What are the steps in a hero's journey? (Discuss).

Ask: Do you think the movie Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone fits the hero's journey steps? (Discuss).

Teach: Teach the steps to the hero's journey and watch the movie as a class. Along the way, stop the movie, then identify and discuss the various steps and how they relate to the hero's journey. You may wish to create a worksheet for students to fill out, or you may fill one out together as a class. 

Teacher Guide

Act One

Ordinary World

Harry has lived with his uncle, aunt, and cousin since he was a baby. Harry attends regular school, has no friends, and his relatives treat him cruelly. He does not know much about his parents except that they are dead. 

Call to Adventure

Harry receives mail, which is odd, and his aunt and uncle immediately recognize the significance of the letter. Despite their best effort, Harry learns he has been invited to a school for witches and wizards.


Harry's aunt and uncle refuse to let Harry attend a magical school, but with the persuasion of a magical person, Harry is whisked off to a new life.

Meeting with the Mentor

Harry is escorted to Hogwarts by Hagrid, and the two quickly form a bond.

Act Two

Crossing the Threshold

Hagrid takes Harry to purchase the items he will need to attend a magical school. Harry is in awe at the new world he gets to explore.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Harry meets several friends who help during his adventures, namely Hermionie and Ron. Other students like Draco wish to disrupt Harry's life. Harry's enemy is an unseen foe who has wanted him dead for years, Voldemort.

Approach to Innermost Cave

To stop a teacher from reaching a precious wizarding item, Harry must face Voldemort.


The two fight.


Harry wins and injures Voldemort.

Act Three

The Road Back

We do not see Harry's journey out of the innermost cave, but we know it occurs.


Harry awakes in the hospital wing and learns more about his ordeal from the famed headmaster Albus Dumbledore.


Harry must return to his uncle, aunt, and cousin for the summer months. But his life is forever changed with the knowledge of the wizarding world. 

Discuss Other Stories

Identify and explore other heroic stories with your students.

  • Invite your students to share their favorite version of the hero's journey. And ask how their favorite story fits the criteria above.
  • Discuss stories such as The Hobbit, Jaws, and Star Wars.

Student Evaluation

There are many ways for you to test your student's knowledge. For example, they may need to present their findings from their favorite heroic journey via a paper or visual presentation, or they may need to complete an exam based upon your class study of Harry Potter. 

Written by Roslyn Kati
Education World Contributor
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