Timeless Novel Inspires Silas Wood 6th Graders

When author Jack London wrote The Call of the Wild around the turn of the century, he may not have expected that his most popular book would be considered children’s literature. After all, he does deal with the unusually cruel treatment of the book’s main character, a St. Bernard mix named Buck. But the major themes of survival of the fittest and civilization versus nature seem timeless. “It’s a wonderful story as a whole,” said Silas Wood teacher Ms. Carol Kelly. “But I find that my students understand it and enjoy it so much more when, after they have all read the entire book, we break the class into teams and each team takes a chapter and creates a movie presenting what that chapter means to them.”

Introduced to the district’s new supervisor for technology, Dr. Jared Bloom, Ms. Kelly enabled her class to use a software program called Xtranormal. Teachers are reinventing their lessons with Xtranormal, and students seem more engaged in learning than ever. Xtranormal helped Ms. Kelly’s students break down The Call of the Wild, and by composing a mini-movie they gained an in-depth understanding, ultimately making the story more interesting.

“The students are using critical thinking, creativity, and writing and decision-making skills as they take textual evidence, applying all they have read and learned, to create a movie about their chapter,” said Dr. Bloom. In the computer lab, the students huddled around their computer workstations, clearly enjoying the process of visually expressing what they had read. “This culminating activity has been such a great experience for my students,” said Ms. Kelly. “Between writing scripts and choosing camera angles, it’s been an awesome experience.”