Reflection: Performance Tasks Jack London Body Biographies - Section 2: Working on the Body Biographies


Jack London is not everyone's cup of tea.  I get it.  But I chose to do a big Jack London unit this year because I thought my students would connect to, and appreciate, the lessons on Naturalism and the sort of quest for "the wild."  We read a couple of stories, watched a film, read some biographical information, threw in a primary source, and topped it off with Call of the Wild.  Now we are at the end of the unit, so it's time for the...body biographies?

When I was in school, the end of the unit meant a test.  Actually, I used to teach that way, too.  Part of the reason was that it gave students the chance to pull it all together...but there was a part of me that wanted to "bust" the students who didn't read everything.

That part of me is still alive, but I try not to let her out.  I tell myself that planning instruction around the small percentage of kids who willfully avoid doing their work.  It still bugs me, and I have many conversations with kids (mostly repeat offenders) about this very issue.  

Does not giving a test mean that I don't really know who "got" it?  Well, first of all, there is no "it."  My lessons are guided by a bunch of different objectives, and we circle back to them (things like the connection between conflict and mood, for example) all the time.

This body biography assignment allows students to work together in groups to "construct" Jack London -- and they must first deconstruct him.  That demands, and provides, more than any test I have about you?

  To test or not to test?
  Performance Tasks: To test or not to test?
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Jack London Body Biographies

Unit 4: Nature, Naturalism, and The Call of the Wild
Lesson 14 of 14

Objective: SWBAT identify key characteristics, influences, and contributions of American author, Jack London.

Big Idea: Multimedia portraits help students demonstrate their understanding of Jack London's life and legacy.

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table shot of body bio
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