Class begins with a short quiz - just five questions - meant to assess comprehension of chapters 14 and 15. Since I do not want to take much class time for this, answers are not required to be written out in sentences, but I do ask that page numbers of where the answers are found be added to questions that do not already include them. The questions touch upon the major events in these chapters and require students to analyze the characters’ motivations for their actions. I allow them to use the book during the quiz for this reason: most of the questions are inferential and require critical thinking skills so rereading the text allows them to organize a thoughtful response.
The results of the quiz give me important information about those students that are able to identify a character’s actions accurately but are not yet looking into the ‘why’ of those actions. For example, one questions asks why Maroo is irritable with (her younger brother) Otak’s questions. The simple or ‘right there in the text’ answer is to say that she was hungry and did not want to talk when he continued to ask her questions, but a close reading of the text and analysis of her actions reveals that she was just as frightened as he was but did not want to show it.
Reading the final chapter together is great way to wrap up a novel reading unit, so we spend some time as a class reviewing the main events from chapters 14 and 15 and discuss the circumstances surrounding the actions of the main characters. The specific portions we reread together from these two chapters are when Otak and the dog disappear and when Maroo faces the cave lion, which we come to identify as the turning point or climax of the story. It is critical to understanding the plot that students realize that is the moment that the reader understands that Maroo will reach safety and get the help needed for her family. Then we go on to read the final chapter together and discover the resolution to the remaining plot problems.
An example of a completed Bookmark that student have been using to take notes during the reading of this novel appears here and some thoughts on why it was created appear here:
The class ends with this journal entry: Are you surprised by the ending of the story? Why or why not?
Almost everyone is delighted when Otak and the dog appear at the camp in the final pages. Because the students recognize the harshness of the environment, they suspected that the family would endure that loss too but are relieved that their earlier predictions are not true.