This is part of my Road of Trials series in which I am chronicling my effort to plan a Hero’s Journey based Lesson in my 11th Grade HIS202: American History from 1877 to the Present. Click Here to see Part 1 Introduction, Part 2 Call to Adventure, Part 3 Meeting the Mentor, and Pt 4 Road of Trials

Quick Visual Reminder of the Hero’s Journey:

Crossing the Threshold

This pivotal moment in the Hero’s Journey is the moment when the Hero decides to leave the ordinary and enter the fantastical or special world. Because this is all complex I see this moment as occurring after the Road of Trials which have occured in the ordinary (or semi-ordinary) space as they prepare the newly minted hero for the moment where they enter the new world and begin their life as Hero. I am drawn to the original Star Wars tale for these analogies and in the past post I suggest that A New Hope is essentially a Road of Trials leading to the Final Test at the Death Star where Luke goes from being a Tatooine farmboy to Luke – Jedi and Hero of the Republic.

episode 4 battle of yavin GIF by Star Wars

The Death Star I battle allows him to cross that threshold. This hold because A New Hope is the First installment of a trilogy which sees Luke develop his Hero’s arc over the next two films. In Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker has fully entered the realm of the Jedi journey and clearly hits on all of the Special World characteristics. While the Crossing of the Threshold is a test of the skills learned in the Road of Trials it is merely the beginning of the journey and not the conclusion of the story.

Classroom Implications of the Crossing of the Threshold

As I have detailed in past posts, this is the culmination of what I am now thinking of as “phase I” of a Civil Rights Hero Journey. The student will have a mentor in the form of an email pen-pal that will provide advice and the initial weapons. I will serve as the supernatural aid offering timely supports and powers. The students will find some early enemies and trials as they search for missing pieces of artifacts from Ida B Wells, Booker T. Washington, and WEB DuBois. These enemies will be phantoms created by a mysterious Big Bad that has learned of the “Source Power” and is using it to both create these minions searching for more powerful sources and to spread disinformation and conspiracy theory attempting to gain more real world power. The Students superpowers, also fueled by “Source Power”, learn reaffirm some basic powers (sourcing, comparison, causation) which will be important in the Crossing the Threshold Assessment.


This Threshold Activity will be a direct confrontation with the Big Bad. I don’t have a name yet but I’m leaning towards something vague but ominous – like Steve. The topic of the Threshold test will be the Red Summer of 1919. In this activity, students will learn (and then use what they learn) about the various incidents of racial violence that spread across the nation in cities like Charleston, South Carolina; Longview, Texas; Bisbee, Arizona; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Knoxville, Tennessee; Omaha, Nebraska; and Elaine, Arkansas during 1919. I (the Supernatural Aid) will supply the student with primary and secondary sources that will need to be read and analyzed before they confront the Big Bad. Students will need to identify the causes of each incident, provide a rough summary of each primary source, explain the outcome, and then finish by making a general comparison of the various incidents. Each successful source completion will unlock a clue that will reveal the location of an important and powerful source where… dun dun duhhh…. the Big Bad will also just be arriving. Having Caught the Big Bad off guard their will be a Boss Fight Battle that – if victorious will lead the student to collect the source and earn a new powerup (I have several they can choose from) and the Big Bad will escape just before the final blow. If they fail to defeat the Big Bad they will not collect the source but the Big Bad will leave them out of pity and superiority complex. The student will continue on their journey but with the knowledge that they must improve to again in this strange new world.

I still need to hammer out the actual method of delivering this boss fight. In an old setting I could lead the battle myself with the Dreadsheet model but I can’t trust that I will have the time when the students are ready. I would prefer something more automated and have some thoughts based on Mr. Sederquist’s form fight model. Just need to work through that.

Whats Next?

Once the Threshold is Crossed our hero is now in the strange new world. The hero will now face more challenges and maybe even gain a Sidekick or an Ally or two. I think this might be a good time to encourage some AVENGERS style team up with students that are also on this quest. As for the timing of this I anticipate the Red Summer of 1919 as a culminating activity in the first Unit of semester 2 which should last about a month in this hybrid setting. All of these new tests and team ups are building up to the “Approach to the Innermost Cave” which will be our “Second Threshold” based on the Tulsa Massacre of 1921.