I am in the process of trying something that is really a cross between curriculums in my classroom of 8-ish to 10-ish year old students. Our school is performing the Walt Disney version of The Jungle Book for the school wide play so I thought this was a natural jumping off point to study the classic writer, Rudyard Kipling. I remembered teaching “Tiger, Tiger” and “Mowgli’s Brother” from the Junior Great Book series while teaching in Louisiana. After a bit of rummaging in the school’s library, I located the teacher’s guides for those two stories and two other stories from The Second Jungle Book., “Letting in the Jungle” and “The Spring Running.” You can easily do a search for online text versions and even audio versions of both books.
In my mind, this looked like a perfect opportunity to put literary circles together for my 12 intermediate students using the four stories. I set up four folders with directions on how to use post-its, the Directed Notes page, a few interpretive questions, a Kipling excerpt learning experience and a creative analysis activity. I used the assignment sheet format breaking down the learning experiences, roughly, into the Bloom’s Taxonomy levels. In the usual layered assignment that I’ve done in the past, I gave the students more choices in each layer but this time, I had an ulterior motive: a grand timeline combining events all four stories together.
The students first response to my question of, “Have you ever done literary circles?” found that most were not sure what those were or if they had participated in one. After our short discussion, it appears that some had experienced a similar set up, somewhere in their past. The students in each group were chosen based on several factors 1) experience with interpretating text, 2) reading comprehension skill level 3) leadership skills 4) interest level and lastly, who was present in class that day.
The students started reading or re-reading their text looking for information to support their directed notes last Thursday. I expected a novelty response on using the post-it notes, so I cut up as many as they requested. Amazingly, one group used more notes than any other (and it was not the group that I expected.)
We are at the point where the students are ready to move to the interpretative question and exploring Kipling as a writer learning experience. (I will write down the name of the book where I obtained the activity the next time I am at school.) The students continue to be interested in the unit, which may be a direct result of the play coming down to the last week of practice before going on stage. As you can imagine, the students are making comments like, “Why did Disney write out Akela and what about Shere Khan’s lame paw and why Bagheera supports and teaches Mowgli.” They are paying careful attention to detail!
I will let you know how the unit progress. I know there will be pitfalls, gaps, strong characteristics, appealing or non-interesting learning experiences. It will be interesting to see what works well and what doesn’t.