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Writing Ideas before Starting Novel
Writing prompts for Where the Red Fern Grows can be creative, fun and thought provoking for students. The novel was written by Wilson Rawls in 1961 and is still a favorite of upper elementary and middle school students.
Complete Small Research Project & Poster
Before beginning the novel, students can research the following topics:
- Redbone coon hounds
- Ozark Mountains
- Eastern Oklahoma
- Western Arkansas
- Bluetick coon hounds
- Events in 1913
These topics relate to the setting, time period, and animals in the novel. Other topics can be added to the list.
Step 1: Place students into paired groups and then allow the groups to choose a topic.
Step 2: After the topic is chosen, students need to individually write what they already know about the topic.
Step 3: In their paired groups, students need to complete research on what they do not already know. Each small group needs to find five interesting facts about the topic. They need to keep track of their sources so that they can complete a bibliography, works cited or reference page. The teacher will need to decide how students will cite their sources. This list will need to be attached to the back of the poster.
Step 3: After students complete their research, they will need to take information and create a poster.
Items needed on the poster:
- Title of the book
- Author's name
- Five interesting facts
- One or more photos or designs
The students need to creatively place all of the items on the poster. The poster needs to be neat and colorful. In addition, the content needs to be correct.
Step 4: When the students have completed the poster, they will need to come up to the front of the room and present it to the class.
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Write While Reading the Novel
Partner Response Chapter Journals
While students are reading the novel, students can be paired up with a reading buddy or partner. The journals can be completed for every chapter or for selected chapters. Each journal has a place for the reader and the partner to respond to the chapter.
Step 1: For the assigned chapter, the student writes the chapter number on the Chapter Partner Journal after the reading is complete.
Step 2: The reader will write a minimum of five responses or questions about the chapter for homework or during class.
Step 3: The next day or after the reader part of the journal is complete, the student and his or her partner can trade the journals. On the partner response side, the partner can try and answer the questions that the reader wrote or make comments about the responses.
These journals will allow for written discussion of the chapters. And, it will allow for deeper understanding of the chapters.
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After the Novel Is Complete
To make students think critically, they can focus on themes of novel. Students can write a theme essay. Depending on the age and ability level these can one longer paragraph, three paragraphs or five paragraphs.
Step 1: Students need to choose a theme. A few of the obvious themes are as follows:
- God and spirituality
- Love beyond loyalty
Step 2: After students have chosen the theme, they can create a graphic organizer web to come up with three to five examples from the novel that support the theme.
Step 3: Once they have the examples to support their theme, students can write their essay.
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The following are writing prompts that teachers can use with the novel:
- Why do you like Billy? What are his good characteristics?
- How important is Billy's grandfather to him? Why?
- Describe Little Ann and Old Dan. Why are they such a good pair of dogs? Would you like to have dogs like this? Why?
- The Pritchards are involved in several conflicts with Billy. What tragic thing happens and how does it affect Billy?
- Billy's family seems to be close. Give examples that show how they are strong family unit.
- The championship raccoon hunt is full of conflict. Explain the conflicts and tell how Billy handles them.
- Explain the events that led to the death of Old Dan and Little Ann. How is the red fern symbolic?
- In the end the family moves into town. What led to this, and do you think it was a good or a bad idea? Why?
Where the Red Fern Grows is a lovely young adult novel that boys and girls will both like. In addition, these writing activities can help students gain additional understanding of the story.
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Study Guide for Where the Red Fern Grows, http://www.glencoe.com/sec/literature/litlibrary/pdf/where_the_red_fern_grows.pdf
Where the Red Fern Grows, http://www.mce.k12tn.net/dogs/fern/where_the_red_fern_grows.htm
Picture of Pencils, Kellie Hayden
Where the Red Fern Grows book jacket, http://www.amazon.com/Where-Fern-Grows-Wilson-Rawls/dp/0553274295