Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wild About Writing: Jack London's Call of the Wild

1. Through reading some excerpts and parts of Jack London’s Call of the Wild, writers will study the importance of adapting to the changes in one’s life and environment.
2. Writers will explore the theme of survival of the fittest.
3. Writers will write effectively to express personal ideas.

Summary: This novel is a classic dog story that explores the role environment plays in shaping character. Buck is a privileged, dignified dog who is taken from his southern Californian home and shipped to Alaska during the 1890’s Gold Rush. Along the way, Buck is beaten and mistreated by a series of dog owners and learns to survive as a member of a dog sled team. He becomes the leader of the pack. (refer to “Law of Club and Fang”).

Materials Needed:
Call of the Wild novel provided by the public library
Writing tools
Basic art supplies
Banner paper
Big Read website and lesson plans

Sample Session Activities:

Icebreaker Activity: Give Example Questions for 15 Seconds Game. Take only 15 seconds to answer each question read aloud by the teacher. Sample questions:
1. Tell us about a real or imaginary place you’d like to visit.
2. If you were stranded in the wilderness, what would be the first thing you would do?
3. If you could transform into any animal, what would it be and why?
4. What is your favorite food? Describe as best as you can.
5. If you could be any person from any story, who would it be and why?
6. What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. Describe something you like that is green.

Words of Wonder Wall: Introduce the Wonder Wall to students and model activity. Short one minute writing prompt could be used for the Wonder Wall.

Introduction to Jack London/Biography:
Mention White Fang and other famous works of author

Pre-reading strategies and focus activities:
1. Distribute novels to students. Have them write their names. Allow time to skim through titles of chapters throughout the novel.
2. Book and chapter titles provide clues to content, hinting at actions to come. What does the title The Call of the Wild suggest that the book will be about? What do the titles of the first three chapters suggest? Write your answers in your sketchbook/notebook/spiral

1. Pair up with a classmate and, based on the titles, predict what will happen to Buck the dog.
2. Make note of your predictions so that you can check them later.

Setting a Purpose for Reading:
Read together or separately throughout these few weeks to discover how Buck is used to living and what changes he must endure.

Discussion Panel or Writing Prompt:
Character Development (Rephrase this question in its most simplest form for the younger writers).
In many stories and novels, the goal of the main character is to improve himself or herself
in some way. In The Call of the Wild, the narrator points out that once Buck learns
to steal food, his moral decay has begun. He then says that this is vital, or absolutely
necessary, for Buck’s survival. In one or two paragraphs, explain what this means. Do
you agree with the narrator’s statement? Why or why not?

Word Storm:
(for pre-assessment in vocabulary and other content areas)
Have students jot down any word they think of when they think about the word “WILDERNESS.”
For example: WILDERNESS
Dark, woods, deep, lost, survival, wolves, animals, forest, branches, trees, hunger, thirst, death, uncivilized, wild, frightening,

Make a graphic organizer to categorize words listed per number of syllables. Assign the word: WILDERNESS and have them think of words that relate to WILDERNESS per syllable.

For example:
1 syllable: Wild, dark, woods, cold, lost,
2 syllables: forest, branches, hunger
3: survival, frightening
4: uncivilized

Writing Exercise:
Write a short scene (with the setting of the wilderness), 200 words or less, involving yourself and another character (a wild animal or any other form of character) using first person singular. Then rewrite the scene in 3rd person.
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