“The Gods of Olympus” Brings Mythology Lessons to Life

Greek American teacher Alexander Kapotas recently published the interactive book, The Gods of Olympus to enhance student learning of Greek mythology.

 

Alexander Kapotas has loved Greek mythology since he first discovered it in third grade. Today, he teaches the subject to high school students. He’s combined his passion for the myths, and his experience through the years to create The Gods of Olympus, which allows kids to learn mythology in a whole new way — and have fun doing it.

 

Meet Alexander Kapotas

The son of a Greek immigrant father from Agios Vasilios, Patras, and a German-Irish mother, Alex was born in Rockford and raised in Belvidere, IL. He first traveled to Greece at the age of 13. Like many others, the experience changed his life, propelling him to become immersed in his culture and traditions. For many years, he performed with the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society.

 

He studied Communication at Loyola University, but a particularly rewarding experience volunteering with the youth at St. Andrew’s Church in Chicago led him to become an educator. He’s taught at Mundelein High School for the past 18 years. Over the years, he’s led four student trips to Greece, Italy, and Turkey.

 

Alex is also the co-creator of a DVD series, called, “Now You Can Greek Dance.”

 

Alex Kapotas with his students at Sounion in 2013.
Alex with his students at Sounion in 2013. COURTESY ALEXANDER KAPOTAS

 

 

Teaching Mythology

Several years ago, Alex began teaching an elective course on Greek and Roman mythology.

 

“So much of our culture is based on this. Kids gain greater interest when they realize that mythology can unlock the meaning in many books, films, items in museums. The gods that a particular culture elevates reflect the values of a people. I try to show the importance of storytelling and giving a particular culture an identity, focusing more on the joy of the study. I take a light-hearted approach, to give kids the opportunity to enjoy it.”

 

About 3-½ years ago, a colleague was attempting to assist a student who was struggling with the topic, and asked Alex about any apps or resources that might be helpful.

 

“Many sources tend to simplify the subject, or make it ‘too Disney’ with a happily-ever-after. It was about this time that my business partner and I were looking for our next project.”

 

Chapters open with a quiz to test knowledge, a vocabulary section, and "Did you know?" COURTESY AXION ST CORPORATION
Chapters open with a quiz to test knowledge, a vocabulary section, and “Did you know?” COURTESY AXION ST. CORPORATION

 

The Gods of Olympus

Released in December, The Gods of Olympus: An Interactive Experience provides a comprehensive view of the gods of Olympus. Alex took all the resources he’s developed over the years — Powerpoints, photos from his travels to Greece, YouTube videos, Google Maps, and more — and put them together in an interesting, fun, and easy-to-follow way.

 

“I modeled it on the way I start teaching the class, by leading students through the content, because it can be confusing. I try to make it all come to life.”

 

Each section unfolds with a tour. Students can then take a preview quiz to test any previous knowledge. There are interactive maps, stories, images from Greece, and other places that have a historical or contemporary connection to that god, like the Parthenon in Nashville. The “Did You Know?” section includes quick bits about each god. For example, students can learn how Athena has influenced the Harry Potter series; or what Artemis and Catniss in “The Hunger Games” have in common.

 

“When students learn the mythological reference, they can fill in stories with their knowledge, and predict a story’s ending.”

 

Also find vocabulary sections, video clips, 3D models, and specific information like temperament symbols, colors, etc., to give the gods character and personality, making them more easily identifiable. It’s highly visual, like a museum tour. At the end of the chapter, test the concepts. There’s a wealth of information.

 

“It encourages higher-level thinking, which is one of the thrusts of Common Core. We give students the opportunity to take the concepts and apply them to real life, and provide examples. Think, how does Poseidon relate to sportsmanship? What characteristics are needed to be a good sport?”

 

Interactive maps enhance the learning experience. COURTESY AXION ST CORPORATION
Interactive maps and image galleries connect the stories to actual places in Greece. COURTESY AXION ST. CORPORATION

 

 

For learners of all ages

The Gods of Olympus is designed for high school students, but it’s for anyone who wants to learn more about Greek mythology. Readers will enjoy scrolling through and interacting, making it feel more like fun than learning or studying.

 

“This is a way to reclaim the myths. Perceptions change when these stories are changed for kids. Many lessons and ideas can be experienced through mythology. It’s been told and passed down for generations, for this reason. This book is my way to inspire a new interest in the world of Greek mythology.”

 

Look for more interactive books in the future.

 

The Gods of Olympus: An Interactive Experience is available on iBooks, in the textbook section. Download a sample at @exploremyths.


 

The Gods of Olympus: An Interactive Experience

Available on iPad, iPhone and Mac.

Published: Dec 04, 2015

Publisher: Axion St. Corporation


 

Read more about The Gods of Olympus:

For Mundelein students, Greece is the word

MHS English Instructor publishes iBook about Mythology

Maria A. Karamitsos

Maria A. Karamitsos

Founder & Editor at WindyCity Greek
For 10 years, Maria served as the Associate Editor and Senior Writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Her work has been published in GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, HarlotsSauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, and more. Maria has contributed to three books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes; The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook; and the inaugural Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal.
Maria A. Karamitsos

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