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Lesson Plans
This Place is Going to the Dogs
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Prep for Teachers

Step 1

If you have a dog, bring a picture of it to class. If you don't have a dog, clip a picture of one from a magazine. Show it to the students and tell them a story about your dog. If you've never had a dog, tell them a story about a dog you've known. Tell them something special your dog does. Ask the class who has a dog. Ask each student, in turn, to share something special about her/his pet.
Step 2

Tell the class that they're going to study dogs, and they're going to learn some new things about them. Ask the class to state some of the things they already know about dogs, and list their responses on the board.

Step 3

Ask the students to bring in a picture of their dog for the next class. If any student does not have a dog, he/she may cut a picture out of a magazine or newspaper. If you can, photocopy each picture five or six times and create packets of pictures, including one photograph of each dog.

Step 4

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has an alphabetical list of all registered breeds of dogs. This list can be found at http://www.akc.org/breeds/recbreeds/breeds_a.cfm. Prior to class, select at random twenty different breeds of dogs. Put the breed names on individual slips of paper and put the slips of paper in a box or hat.

Step 5

Identify several faculty members or administrators who would be willing to be interviewed on camera about their dogs. Try to find enough people to allow groups of three students to do one interview apiece.

Step 6

When using media, provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Introductory Activities: Setting the Stage

Step 1

CUE the video to the scene just after the opening credits. Ask the students if any of them have a dog. Ask the class if any of their neighbors, parents, grandparents, or friends have a dog. As a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, tell the class that you want them to meet some dogs. START the video and PLAY it until the narrator says, "Thanks to a faithful companion, these two old friends are still enjoying a quiet moment together." PAUSE the video at this point and ask for student reactions. Since this portion of the lesson is a "tickler" the reactions you'll be looking for would be from the affective domain. ("I have a dog." "That golden retriever was sooo cute!") The teacher should just listen and allow the class to "invest" in the video. FAST-FORWARD the video to the scene where the German Shepard has just gotten out of a helicopter. Ask the class what dogs do for us. Record their responses on the board. As a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, tell the class to look for examples of each of the qualities mentioned in the next video segment: unconditional love, dedication, loyalty, companionship, and service. RESUME playing the video and PAUSE it when the words "Extraordinary Dogs" comes on the screen. Solicit their ideas, and list their examples on the board. Tell the class that they'll be taking a closer look at dogs and will learn more things about them.

Step 2

Ask the class if they have any ideas as to what the ancestors of today's dogs might be. List their responses on the board. (Typical answers would include wolves, coyotes, or hyenas.)

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, telling the class to watch the next segment of the video and see if the narrator agrees with them. RESUME playing the video and PAUSE it after the narrator has said " with a creature from the wild." Check for comprehension, asking students if the narrator agrees with them. (Answer: wolves.)

Step 3

Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking the class what they think that creature might be, and check their answers during the next video segment. RESUME playing the video until the narrator says, " for we share so much in common." PAUSE the video. Ask students if their prediction was correct. (Student answers will vary.)

Step 4

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking the class to determine what behaviors both man and wolf share. RESUME playing the video until the narrator says, "became our best friend." Ask the class what the narrator meant by his description. REWIND the video and REPLAY that segment if the class cannot recall what has been said. (Answer: Intelligence, living in small groups, loyalty.)

Step 5

Tell the class they'll now see a series of video segments about some special dogs. Tell students that they will watch each segment and try to suggest adaptations unique to the dog in that segment.

Step 6

FAST-FORWARD the video to the scene where the sheepherder has just said, "He's a friend." and he is shown exiting the gate near his barn.

Ask the class if they've ever seen a Boarder Collie. Ask them if they know what Boarder Collies are bred for. (There will be a variety of answers based on the class's prior knowledge.)

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to watch the segment and determine what Boarder Collies are bred for. PLAY the video from the scene where the sheepherder has just said, "He's a friend." and he is shown exiting the gate near his barn as noted in #6 above. PAUSE when the dogs have herded the sheep back to their pen and the narrator has just said that the dogs are tired after working a 16 hour day. Check for comprehension. What are Boarder Collies bred for? (The correct answer is herding.)

Ask the class if they can suggest any specific adaptations Boarder Collies have that help them to do their job. (Students may suggest intelligence and loyalty.)

Step 7

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them listen to the narration during the next video section to see if their answers are correct. RESUME playing the video until the herder says, "If you want to be cruel to them, don't give them any work. It will break their hearts." PAUSE the video at this point and ask the class if the adaptations they mentioned were correct. (Student answers will vary.) REWIND and REPLAY this segment if the class needs to hear it again.

Step 8

FAST-FORWARD the video to the scene just after the avalanche victim has been found and the camera has panned to the snow-covered hillside. Ask the class what they know about Golden Retrievers. Ask them if they've ever seen a rescue dog. (Student answer will vary.)

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, telling the class that they'll be meeting a rescue dog and to look for qualities unique to this kind of dog.

RESUME playing the video until the buried rescue worker climbs out of the snow cave.

Ask the class what sense Hasty used to locate the victim. Ask the class what the dog's smell sensitivity is. (Hasty used sense of smell to locate the victim. A dog's sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than ours.)

For review, REWIND the video and REPLAY the segment if they cannot recall.

Check for comprehension, ask the class to suggest adaptations that seem to be unique to rescue dogs. (Sense of smell, long coat, stamina, loyalty.)

Step 9

FAST-FORWARD the video to the scene in the section about dogs in wars when the image changes from color to black and white. Ask the class if they've ever heard any stories about dogs doing heroic deeds in war.

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, telling the class to watch this brief history of dogs in war and to think of some adjectives to describe their behavior.

RESUME the video and PLAY it until the scene changes from black and white back to color.
PAUSE the video at this point and ask the class to suggest adaptations that seem to be unique to the dogs they've just seen. (Courage, intelligence and loyalty.)

Step 10

FAST-FORWARD the video to the scene just after the soldier is seen standing at the Viet Nam Memorial. PAUSE the video at this point and ask the class if they've ever heard of a "service dog."

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to watch the next scene and note specific adaptations found in dogs that are good "service dogs." RESUME the video and PAUSE it just after the scene where the dog turns the light switch on. Ask the class to suggest adaptations that seem to be unique to "service dogs." (Intelligence, wanting to please, loyalty.)

Step 11

Summarize the qualities dogs have that make them good companions for people, and list those qualities on the board. Ask the class if all dogs exhibit all of the qualities they've named. Ask them for examples of breeds that might be best exhibit each quality. List the breed name next to each quality. (These answers will vary. Whether or not the students are correct at this point doesn't really matter. Their research will lead them to the correct answers later in this lesson.)
It is entirely possible that the class will not be able to name a breed for each quality. Tell the class that in the next class they'll be learning more about the qualities of different breeds.


Learning Activities

Activity #1:

Step 1

Give each student a sheet of notebook paper, and ask them to list eight items of clothing in their closet. Have them title this list, "All Clothes."

Step 2

When everyone has finished listing their clothing, have them divide their list into two categories. An example might be tops and bottoms. Have the students write these list titles next to each other and put the names of the articles of clothing from their total list under the appropriate heading. The two lists do not have to have equal numbers of items.

Step 3

Next, have the students take one of their headings and divide that list into two more. They should do the same thing for the second heading.

Step 4

Continue this process until there is just one article of clothing under a heading. This may take some time, so feel free to end the process sooner or provide suggestions if need be. The sheet should look like Student Organizer #1. Have members of the class describe and display their classification trees.
Note to Teacher: For your convenience there is a completed example of a clothes tree following Student Organizer #1 at the end of this lesson.

Step 5

Ask the students if there is just one way to set up a classification tree?

Step 6

Ask them if different "descriptors" could be used and the tree would still be correct.

Step 7

Explain to the class that a classification tree is correct if it "works." That is to say, a classification tree is correct if every item from the original list can be grouped under a specific heading.

Step 8

Emphasize to the class that the headings for each column must name some physical quality of the objects listed below it. There should be no debate as to whether or not an item belongs in a column. For example, headings such as "big" or "small" are not good descriptors because they are subject to personal interpretation. Headings such as "bigger than a book" or "has an odor" would be good ones because they are not subject to personal interpretation.

Step 9

Allow students to edit their "trees" if their chosen headings are not very good.

Step 10

Display the completed Classification Trees in the classroom for further reference.

Activity #2:

(NOTE TO TEACHER: Some children may find this next exercise quite difficult. It will be important for the teacher to circulate from group to group assessing progress and to step in and offer specific ideas for organization to groups having difficulty.)

Step 1

Divide the class into five or six groups (depending on how many photo packets you made).
Give each group one packet of pictures, and ask them to develop a classification tree of the dogs pictured. Tell the groups that each column at each level of the tree should have a descriptive heading.

Step 2

Tell the class that the tree must have each dog in its own separate category at the end. Remind the class that headings must be based on physical characteristics rather than characteristics subject to debate. For example, the heading "long-haired" would be OK, but "cute as a button" would not.

Step 3

Have each group create a poster of their classification tree with the dogs' photos attached at the bottom. Have each group share their Dog Tree, and display the finished trees in the classroom.

Activity #3:

Step 1

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has an alphabetical list of all registered breeds of dogs. This list can be found at http://www.akc.org/breeds/recbreeds/breeds_a.cfm. Prior to class, select at random twenty different breeds of dogs. Put the breed names on individual slips of paper and put the slips of paper in a box or hat.

Step 2

Tell the class that they're going to find out about some different breeds of dogs. Have each student in turn choose one breed name from the box.

Step 3

Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to go to the AKC web site (http://www.akc.org/breeds/recbreeds/breeds_a.cfm) and find the answers to some questions about that breed. Distribute Student Organizer #1.

Step 4

Once everyone has gathered the necessary information, ask the students to group themselves into eight groups based on breed characteristics they've found in their research. (Note: What you're looking for here is to have them self-identify the eight AKC group--sporting, working, hound, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous--without finding that information online. This is a very difficult thing to do, and they may not succeed.) Herding dogs are generally built low to the ground. Sporting dogs generally have longer legs and a strong body. Working dogs are generally big and sturdy. Terriers are smaller and lithe. Toy dogs look like miniature versions of some larger breed. Non sporting dogs tend to have an elegance to them. If a dog doesn't fit any of these descriptions, it's probably in the miscellaneous breed category. If you'd like to see examples dogs in each group there are photos on the AKC web sites listed above in the "Prep for Teachers" section.

Step 5

When sufficient time has passed, ask individuals in each group to say why they grouped their breeds together. Ask one or two students to go back to the AKC Web site and find the names of the AKC groups. Ask the class if their groupings matched the AKC grouping.

Activity #4:

Step 1

Revisit the list of adaptations that the class suggested for the different kinds of dogs from the video segments.

Step 2

Ask the class to suggest which breeds researched might have each of the adaptations.

Step 3

The class may have difficulty placing some of the more exotic breeds with their list of adaptations. If a particular dog doesn't seem to fit into any categories, does this mean the dog is useless, or do all dogs have some "job" to do? Tell them that they're going to find an answer to this question with their next activity.

Activity #5

Step 1

The NATURE episode presented some unique dogs, and told some interesting stories about some special characteristics and abilities. Review with the class some of the remarkable dog stories from the video. Ask the students to share interesting stories about their dog, or any stories about their parents', friends', or neighbors' dogs. Tell the class that they're going to create a video essay about the special qualities of dogs familiar to them.

Step 2

Divide the class into working groups of three or four. Have each group brainstorm questions they might ask someone to elicit interesting stories about their dogs. Tell the class to be sure to ask questions about specific adaptations of their interviewee's dog. Spend five or ten minutes brainstorming, and then have pairs of groups share their lists of questions with each other, and ask them to come up with three or four of their best questions.

Have pairs of pairs repeat this and come up with three or four of the best questions.

Step 3

At this point you may do this exercise again, or you can have the class meet as a whole, share their questions, and then have the class arrive at an agreed-upon set of three or four questions for their interviews.
    Make certain:
    a. that every student has had a chance to contribute her/his ideas.
    b. that questions about specific adaptations are included on the list of questions.
Prior to the next class, identify several faculty members or administrators who would be willing to be interviewed on camera about their dogs. There should try to find enough people to allow each initial group of three students to do one interview.

Have each group choose the name of one person to be interviewed from a box. The group must set up a mutually convenient time with their person for the interview.

Students may request that their subject bring a photograph of their dog to the interview. In rare cases, the actual dog may be available. Each group should be taught how to operate a digital video camera.

At the arranged time, the groups should go out and interview their subject. You may decide to invite the subjects to the classroom rather than having the students go to them.


Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Step 1

Place eight bags of potato chips, selected for differences in observable characteristics (i.e. color, texture, brand name, flavoring, etc.), in front of the classroom. If you wish, you could provide 8 bags of chips to small groups of students or to individual students.

Step 2

Have each student (or small group of students) develop a classification tree for the eight bags of chips.

Step 3

Remind the class that each column heading must be an observable characteristic unique to the chips in that column.

Step 4

When all of the classification trees have been handed in, ask the students to share their organizational schemes with the rest of the class.

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Geography: Keeping the same groups from Activity #3, ask the children to locate the country of origin for each breed on a world map. Each student, in turn, can tape her/his breed name (and picture) to a world map posted in the room.

Language Arts: Each student (or small group of students) could write a fictional story about his or her favorite "Extraordinary Dog." The story could be illustrated.

Science: Students could research the breeding history of the dogs they've studied and develop an "evolution tree" starting with the oldest dog species and then branching upwards from there.

Community Connections
  • Invite a person from the local fire or police department to bring a rescue dog to class and share some of her or his experiences with the students.

  • Invite the person from a local hospital or nursing home to come in and talk about "Therapy Dogs" and how the students can become involved in this program.

  • Invite a local veterinarian to come to the class and talk about keeping dogs healthy, and about why dogs should be spayed or neutered.

  • Stray pet animals are a problem in many communities. The Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org) has excellent information about pet adoption and the general care of pets. This may be an excellent discussion topic in your classroom.

Resources:

Humane Society of the United States
http://www.hsus.org
This site has excellent information on the care of pets and how to adopt a pet. It is an excellent resource for students interested in the humane treatment of pets.

Nature: Extraordinary Dogs
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/dogs/meet.html
This is the official web site for the NATURE episode used in this lesson. The particular page linked here invites the reader to learn more about the individual dogs featured in the video. The site has information specific to each dog, but students can find out about each dog's adaptations from each description.

Nature: Extraordinary Dogs
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/dogs/owning.html
This link to a page on the Extraordinary Dogs web site discusses what it means to own a dog. What are the responsibilities? What are the rewards? How can a person adopt a dog?

Nature: Extraordinary Dogs
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/dogs/resources.html
This page from the Extraordinary Dogs web site contains links to additional resources about dogs in general, and about specific kinds of dogs. It can be used for additional research into different breeds and for information about some of the organizations featured in the episode.