Tomorrow is Wednesday and I have been reading lots of nonfiction. My students have been reading lots of nonfiction. I have so much to share.
But . . . I am really busy and have many other things I should be doing.
To blog or not to blog . . . ?
I can’t resist!
I am reading my class the incredible Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, a stunning Flying Eye book published in 2014. I really debated about whether my class could manage a longer nonfiction read aloud but then decided if any book was going to hold their attention, it would be this one. Such a story of adventure, misadventure, perseverance and survival. This book is full of so many details to share with my students. We are going to be learning about exploration, polar landscapes, geography, history – all the while, being captured by one of the most incredible survival stories of our times.
I decided to launch this title by having students explore the continent of Antartica in the atlas and on the globe and think about what it might be like to travel to the continent and over its landscape. We read Sophie Scott Goes South last year so many students remembered learning about ice breakers and watching videos about the frozen landscape.
We did a writing exercise with a copy of Shackleton’s actual advertisement for men to sail with him on the Endurance. I gave this wonder statement as a prompt:
I wonder who would choose to go on this journey? What would be some of the challenges?
Students shared some fantastic responses:
“I think someone would do it for the fame and fortune. Maybe a vet would do it because they want to see how the animals are doing. I would have mixed feelings about doing this if I saw this in the newspaper because first of all I’m not very good in boats, cars and buses – you know what I mean but on the other hand I love animals and adventure. And I’m skinny – me and the cold don’t get along.” (above)
“I would choose my Mom’s Aunt because once she survived a hurricane by swimming because she’s a good swimmer. I think the hardest thing to be is to fall down because even if you’re a good swimmer, you will freeze to death.”
“I don’t want me or my family going on that journey because I love them and they would probably be gone forever. They should let the girls join because girls and boys aren’t that different. Maybe girls would want to go too. The hardest thing would be the risk taking. You should think about your family if you have one.”
“I think that the people who have dreams will do it. I would do it only if I was 49. I think that the challenges are risk taking, braveness and special equipments. I think that girls at back in time didn’t feel like going. They might get sick easily. But a lot of men take risks? Shackleton is the bravest man I ever heard of!”
After reading a few pages about recruiting men and raising funds, it was all about the dogs! 69 dogs were brought on board as part of the expedition. Each of their names is listed. I had to read the list aloud multiple times. “Do it again,” I would be prompted. 🙂 I then had to make a copy of the list for the students. We used this as another writing prompt.
I wonder why Shackleton brought 69 dogs on the expedition. What would be the challenges?
Loved their thoughts on this!
“So if the crew gets lost the dogs could smell their way back. Because dogs have a great sense of smell. Or if there is some blind people – you never know. Probably some challenges are like the dogs might be smelling lots of cool stuff and wanting to explore it.”
“The challenge would be that they will have to figure out how they are going to let the dogs do their business. How will they feed all 69 dogs? And you wouldn’t like to see 69 angry dogs. How will the crew and the dogs all get water because they can’t just drink from the water because it;s salt water and trust me salt water is not good for you. Where will they put all the food, because there’s 69 dogs and 26 people counting the expedition leader and the stowaway.”
“I think they use the dogs for looking for food. Or maybe looking for trouble. I wonder why they bring more dogs than people. I wonder what kind of dog food they bring. Maybe they use them to go on a quest. My favourite dog is Jerry (my name!)”
“Maybe they are snowdogs or I wonder if some members of the crew get scared of the trip so the dogs are hired to cuddle them. I love dogs. If I was going on this trip, I would be happy that there were dogs around.”
“Maybe to use as snow dogs and 69 because humans are very heavy to dogs. Or for their safety? But the problem is what if they get lost or run away. And if he is so poor, how can he buy boots and coats for all the men.”
“I think they need them for warning so they won’t crash. I think they need them because they are tough. Is their enough room on the boat?”
“I wonder why they bring more dogs than people. The challenge are the dogs poo and need to eat and drink. I think they bring the dogs because they can smell stuff. It he doesn’t have enough money from the funding, he can’t buy enough food for the dogs and all the equipment. If he goes across Antarctica, it will be very risk taking.”
We are just pages in and the children are absolutely hooked. We have pages and pages ahead and I can’t wait for all of the learning, thinking, writing and discussions to come with this beautiful book.
Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!
This is fantastic! I loved their responses. What a wonderful way to start my morning. Our third graders are doing a reading around the world project, and one of the destinations is Antarctica. ‘Will be adding this to my cart. Thanks!
Make sure you add Sophie Scott Goes South too! Perfect for that age group!
I think I’m going to quit my job and just come live in your classroom and learn with you and your students. This sounds WONDERFUL! Such thoughtful and interesting (and sometimes very funny) responses. I hope you create many little learners who are just as obsessed with Polar expedition as I am!
You know you would be absolutely welcome! I get endless enjoyment form these comments and thinking. 🙂
I have shared Spirit of Endurance with kids before, and they were definitely hooked on the story! They were NOT happy about what happened to the dogs, though …
I know – so very sad. But . . . part of the whole story and so will have to be shared. We will take a LONG time to read this book so will be a while before we get to this.
The Shackleton Expedition is a great topic for immersive study. Excellent!
Agreed – so much to learn!
Your title grabbed me from the beginning. This book looks wonderful and I love your activities. Lucky kiddos!
Thank you Gigi! We are really enjoying this title!
What a fantastic way to study Antarctica! A fascinating tale for sure. Your kids are so clever!
They certainly are!
How awesome that you get to share with us your students’ responses to this lovely book. I think I must have ordered a copy of this one – can’t wait for it to arrive. 🙂
It is beautiful. I do enjoy sharing my students’ thinking 🙂
As I mentioned last night, a highlight for me is seeing your kids comments in your blog posts. They always make me think about what I’m doing, can I do it differently… Love that reflection piece I get by stopping by 🙂
Thanks Michele, today I really needed to hear this. Long, wild day and so appreciate that maybe I have got it a little figured out – some of the time at least.
I’ve read Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, by Jennifer Armstrong, with my Guys Read club before. Might try giving it to some of your stronger readers who are interested. A bit more in depth, lots of photos. Love this new one, too!
See you soon!
Great suggestion! Thanks. And yes, see you soon! So excited!