War Horse Literature Camp
For one of our Literature Camps for this year we enjoyed 3 sessions of literary analysis of The War Horse and then the students put on a condensed version of the War Horse using reader’s theatre for their performance. What a great opportunity to learn about WW#1! Some of the students read the book and some watched the film - we were able to accomodate both; though the point of view was different the essence of the story remained.
For the three hours I had with our students, these are some of the activities they completed and the resources that I used.
We started out with sequencing the events of the story. I had the students choose what they felt were the most important events of the story and then discuss that with the group. Some kept their original answers and some changed their thoughts when the heard others.
I had the students use this graphic organizer to help.
They then filled out a storytelling arc and again discussed it in groups. Finding the climax and resolution of any story is challenging, and each time we do this we have a wide variety of possible conclusions. I asked the students when we got back together as a large group, to justify why they felt the climax was at a particular moment in the story. Many times we differ, but our differences are always open to interpretation and discussion! I had the students use the above resource as their guide.
Next I had them fill out this sheet on quotes from the War Horse and then add in quotes that they could find. After filling it out the students then got back together and we discussed each of the quotes and their thoughts on them.
We talked next about the motivation of characters. I read out some of the motivators from this list and we then threw out some more ideas from the large group. I had them after use this list - they wrote the motivators of each of the characters in the group on the side and the motivators they could see in that character. We discussed it after.
I had the students do some compare and contrast of the characters:
Albert to his mother
Albert to his father
The student to their own mother or grandmother
The student to their own father or grandfather
They used a Venn diagram and then discussed this in small groups. Some were then brave enough to share with the large group about themselves. They used this resource.
We then had a group discussion about how Joey is personified. We also talked about point of view at the same time.
Next - we talked about conflicts within the story. They used this sheet which includes man against man, man against nature, man against society and man against himself. I then asked them on the back of this sheet to add man against a force great than himself. We then as a large group discussed these conflicts.
I had each of the students use as many words as they could to describe World War #1 using this description wheel. I asked them to use words worthy of Grade 11 English and they rose to the occasion.
I had the students discuss irony in the story as small groups and then we explored it as a larger group. They filled out this sheet with their examples of irony.
Finally, I handed out this list of 12 common themes. I asked them to pick two themes and give examples of how each of the themes were exemplified in the book or movie. We then got together and discussed the themes that the students chose.
For only three hours together, we certainly covered a lot of ground. There was lots of great discussion about this book and the film! The students went on to perform a great play that really spoke to it’s audience about the horror and the hope in WW#1 and The War Horse.
If you need more help using War Horse for your Learning Camp just send me off a note and I would be happy to help!