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Young Readers' Series: Wild Things

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Open to: Grades 2-3

Prerequisites: Qualifying verbal score and/or qualifying math score. [Note: While students are not required to be verbal qualifiers, they must be proficient readers and writers of English to gain value from the course. An optional, free, self-graded, 15-question readiness assessment is available.]

Course Format: Web-based classroom

Course Length: Session-based: 10 weeks (fall, winter, spring, late summer) or 12 weeks (early summer);
Session Dates and Application Deadlines

Course Code: YYWT 

Select the appropriate tab from the list below.

Course Description

Description

 

 

Who are the real wild things? Animals or humans? Read the books, and then you decide. Many people are familiar with the heartwarming YouTube video of Christian the Lion’s joyous reunion in Africa with the two men who raised him for a year in London before setting him free. The book, Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall tells the rest of the enchanting true story. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a fictional memoir of Ivan, a gorilla forced to serve as a shopping mall attraction, and his heroic efforts to assure a better life for his friend Ruby the elephant. In My Life with the Chimpanzees, Jane Goodall shares stories from her childhood and from her years of observing chimpanzees and other wild animals. In the final book, Dolphin Song, author Lauren St. John spins the riveting tale of Martine, a young girl whose school trip to watch the Sardine Run off of the coast of South Africa turns into a life or death adventure. When they are thrown overboard from their ship by a sudden storm, Martine and her classmates are first saved by dolphins, and then the children struggle to return the favor by protecting the dolphins from the dangerous poachers they encounter on the deserted island that they now call home.

In addition to being entertaining and inspiring, the four books discuss scientific topics such as wild life conservation, habitats, and animal communication, as well as the importance of perseverance, resilience, ingenuity, and cooperation in reaching one's goals. Some assignments include short videos and others will require internet research for students to find additional images, documents, and other free media to complete writing and multimedia assignments. Visit the Home Page of the Wild Things classroom.

VoiceThread WildThings image[For an example of how instructors and students create their own asynchronous social network in the classroom by typing their comments or speaking into a microphone or webcam, view an example of a brief VoiceThread video icebreaker.]

About the Young Readers' Series Courses for Verbal and/or Math Qualifiers in Grades 2 and 3: Wild Things and Robot Encounters

The Young Readers' Series is designed enhance a student's critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Developed for enrichment, course assignments meet or surpass the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading. As students participate in written discussion forums, they make inferences, determine motivations, evaluate arguments, and provide textual evidence to support their opinions. Creative writing assignments encourage students to take on different points of view, summarize details, compare authors, and discuss central ideas. Students work with both fiction and nonfiction material.

Designed for children reading at a 5th grade level or above, students enrolled in the Young Readers' Series for Grades 2 and 3:

  • Read three or four thematically connected, age-appropriate books of increasing difficulty
  • Participate in online written discussions with gifted classmates from Boston to Beijing
  • Post writing assignments such as newspaper and magazine articles, imaginary TED Talks,  dialogues, and editorials
  • Learn sophisticated vocabulary words and literary devices with the help of online games and puzzles
  • Receive individualized written feedback from their instructor about each lesson's work.

The two courses in the Young Readers' Series for Verbal and/or Math qualifiers for Grades 2 and 3 include the same level of challenging books, creative writing, and critical thinking as the traditional Young Readers Series. The difference is that Wild Things and Robot Encounters include both nonfiction and fiction readings, are open to both verbal and/or math qualifiers, and many assignments allow students to use and create multimedia content using web 2.0 tools such as VoiceThread and other online slideshows, bulletin boards, and more.

Parents Ask...

  • Students typically read and share written responses every other day (fall, spring, and early summer sessions) or daily (midsummer intensive session).
  • Work is posted in the virtual classrooms at the student’s convenience as long as each lesson's deadlines are met.
  • It does not matter whether a student has already read one or all of the books before the course begins because the emphasis on citing the text requires careful re-reading.
  • Students must already be proficient in Standard Written English. [Instructors discuss grammar only when it affects meaning.]
  • An optional, free, self-graded, 15-question readiness assessment is available.
  • These critical reading courses are designed to be ungraded, enrichment courses; instead of a grade, instructors provide specific feedback about each student's work at the end of each lesson and a detailed final evaluation at the end of the course. Parents or guardians may request a final grade if needed for school credit.

About Readability and Appropriateness

Patents are encouraged to consider the information contained in About Readability, Appropriateness, Look inside the books, and Read reviews for the books before deciding on the course that would be most interesting and appropriate for their child.

Readability

The easiest method to check readability for your child is the “Five Finger Rule.” Have the child begin reading aloud any page of a book at random and raise your finger each time he or she struggles with a word. If your child reaches the end of the page before you have raised five fingers, your child should be able to read the book independently.

CTYOnline simplifies this informal assessment by linking to pages of almost every book in the Look inside the books section. Please perform this “Five Finger Rule” assessment on the last or next to last book of any course you are considering.

Appropriateness

Parents should be aware that each theme contains books with humor, mystery, adventure, and heroism as well as suspense and sadness. Overall, while our courses contain advanced grade-level material, we strive to select materials appropriate to the ages of the students. Please look inside the books and read reviews to decide whether these books are appropriate for your child. If you are still uncertain whether your child is ready for a course, please email ctyonline@jhu.edu or call 410-735-6144.

Look inside the books. To assess readability level, click on the bottom two book titles and perform the Five Finger Rule.

Look inside Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall
Look inside The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Look inside My Life with Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall
Look inside Dolphin Song by Lauren St. John

Read reviews. Parents are urged to review for appropriate content.

Reviews of Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall
Reviews of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Reviews of My Life with Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall
Reviews of Dolphin Song by Lauren St. John

Materials Needed

Detailed Course Information

Lesson 1:

1. Start the course by reading the Syllabus found at the top of the HomePage of the classroom found below Christian's welcome message and play the sorting activity called "Good Idea, Bad Idea."
 
2. Begin reading Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall. 
 
3. Watch the video of Christian at the World's End [part 1].
 
4. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 1 Poll.
 
5. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 1, take the short, open book, self-graded quiz. If you don't know an answer, you may refer to your book or glossary of literary terms.
 
6. Answer the questions to test your knowledge of the "Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from Christian the Lion."
 
7. Post ONE writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
8. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 2:
1. Finish reading Christian the Lion and read the 7-page excerpt from a different book by the same authors called A Lion Called Christian, found in Homepage.
 
2. View a Today Show video, which includes some new information about a second and final reunion between Christian, Ace, and John that took place in 1972.
 
3. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 2 Poll.
 
4. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 2, take the self-graded quiz. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or the literary terms glossary.
 
5. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
6. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)

Optional Fun and Challenges
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 3:
1. Begin reading The One and Only Ivan and view the cover of the book titled When Elephants Paint, found on the HomePage, to see a picture painted by an elephant.
 
2. Vote your opinion (and explain your reasoning) in the Lesson 3 Poll, which uses a Web 2.0 tool called a padlet.
 
3. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 3, take the self-graded quiz. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or to the literary terms glossary.
 
4. Take the Quiz to test your knowledge of the "Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from The One and Only Ivan."
 
5. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
6. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 4:
1. Finish reading The One and Only Ivan and read the article titled "Elephants understand pointing, scientists show" found on the Home Page.
 
2. Vote your opinion (and give an explanation) in the Lesson 4 VoiceThread Poll.
 
3. After you have finished reading the first two books and you have time to complete an open-book Quest in one sitting, take the 20-question, self-graded Quest. [It is called a Quest because it is longer than most quizzes, but shorter than most tests.]
 
4. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
5. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 5:
1. Begin by watching a video titled From the Ground to the Cloud: Transforming Chimpanzee Conservation with High-Tech Tools, reading My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall, and reading excerpts from Soul of a Lion by Barbara Bennett, found on the HomePage.
 
2. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 5 Poll.
 
3. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 3, take the short, self-graded quiz. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or the literary terms glossary.
 
4. Take the Quiz to test your knowledge of the "Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from My Life with the Chimpanzees."
 
5. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
6. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 6:
1. Complete reading My Life with the Chimpanzees.
 
2. Watch two short videos about chimpanzee cooperation that reach different conclusions. 
 
3. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 6 Poll.
 
4. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 6, take the self-graded quiz. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or literary terms glossary.
 
5. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
6. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 7:
1. Begin reading Dolphin Song by Lauren St. John.
 
2. Watch the videos about the dolphins and the Sardine Run and about dolphin intelligence accessed from the HomePage.
 
3. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 7 Poll.
 
4. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 7, take the self-graded quiz below. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or to the literary terms glossary.
 
5. Take the Quiz below to test your knowledge of the "Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from Dolphin Song."
 
6. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
7. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.

Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 8:
1. Continue reading Dolphin Song and read excerpt about long distance communication with animals from The Elephant Whisperer, found on the HomePage.

2. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 8 Poll.
 
3. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 8, take the self-graded quiz. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or to the literary terms glossary.
 
4. Complete three self-graded activities to find out how well you understand in what order events took place in time (that is, the sequence of events in Dolphin Song).
 
5. Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
 
6. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 9:
1. Finish reading Dolphin Song.
 
2. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 9 VoiceThread Poll.
 
3. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 9, take the self-graded quiz below. If you don't know an answer, refer to your book or the literary terms glossary.
 
4. To prepare for the "Quest" that you will take during Lesson 10, use the Talking Flashcards to help you learn the Literary Terms, and then play the Literary Terms Snakes and Ladders game found on the HomePage to test your knowledge of the terms.For additional preparation for the Lesson 10 Quest, review the "Helpful Hints for Creating and Punctuating Dialogue Cube" (or PDF) found on the HomePage and play the sorting activity called "Good Punctuation, Bad Punctuation."
 
5. Contribute TWO (or more) posts to the Dolphin Song Discussion Board in response to any of the questions about the book. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)
 
6. Contribute TWO posts to the Summary Discussion Forum in response to any of the questions about the four books you have read for this course. (This time all students should submit their own thoughtful responses WITHOUT reading or responding to another student's post.) Although there is not a strict word count for these summary questions, your thoughtful response to each discussion question should aim at being at least 50 words and hopefully a lot more.
 
Optional Fun and Challenges:
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.
 
Lesson 10:
1. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 10 Poll.
 
2. Select and reread relevant portions of Christian the Lion, The One and Only Ivan, My Life with the Chimpanzees, and Dolphin Song in order to answer your choice of a summary blog assignment on the HomePage (that is, a blog in which characters or events from three or four stories of the stories read for the course are mentioned).
 
3. Choose ONE of three topics and write a Summary Blog covering characters or events from three or four of the books read for this course. 
 
4. When you are prepared and have time to complete the final quest in one sitting, click on the Lesson 10 open book, 25-question Quest.
 

Time Required

This course requires approximately three hours for each of the ten lessons. Students should expect to spend approximately 3 hours per week. 

Note: Students do not have to meet in the classroom at the same time. A student's written work can be posted in the virtual classroom at the student's convenience as long as deadlines are met.

About Summer Sessions:

The Young Readers' Series offers a 12-week summer session that allows families to take a week or two of vacation and 10-week sessions. All sessions cover the same course material and assignments.

While the 12-week early summer session courses allow for 2 weeks total vacation, students in the Young Readers’ courses are encouraged to work ahead or make up their work to try to keep up with their classmates whenever possible. Experience has shown that these courses are most fun when all students are working on the same lesson. Students must notify the instructor at the course's start about any planned vacation dates and must meet scheduled due dates when they are not on vacation. [Students who make up their work can finish their early summer course in 10 weeks.]

If you have any questions, please contact us before applying at ctyonline@jhu.edu.

Sample Assignment

Demo

Wild Things Sample Assignment

All work is due on the due date shown in the Home Page of the classroom.

The Syllabus

1. Start the course by reading the Syllabus found at the top of the Home Page of the classroom found below Christian's welcome message. Then, play the following sorting activity called "Good Idea, Bad Idea" after you have read the syllabus to help you remember good things to do in the course.

Reading Assignments, Video, and Poll

2. Begin reading Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall in the following chunks:

Beginning of book plus chapters 1 - 5 (pages 1-35)

Chapters 6-9 (pages 36-63)

3. Watch the video of Christian at the World's End [part 1].

4. Vote your opinion in the Lesson 1 "Poll - If you heard or saw that the owners' pet lion roamed freely through a store in your town, would you enter the store to get a closer look?" [Access the poll from the HomePage.]

Self-Graded Quiz

5. After you have read the reading assignment for Lesson 1, take the self-graded quiz below. If you don't know an answer, you may refer to your book or glossary.

Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words

6. You are provided with a list of "Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from Christian the Lion" that you can use to help better understand the book and increase your knowledge of vocabulary words in general. Take the brief Quiz below to test your knowledge of the "Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from Christian the Lion"!

Writing Assignment

7. Post ONE of the following creative writing blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum:

a) Dear Mom: I bought a lion. Imagine that you are John and you have just found out that Harrods will allow you and Ace to buy Christian. Using first person point of view, write a 50-250+ word letter (as John) to your mother to share your excitement about this new venture as well as any concerns you might have.

b) Christian in the news. In Chapter 7, we read how Christian's life with John and Ace in London had attracted a lot of attention and he had many visits from newspaper and television reporters. Imagine that you are a reporter who came to the furniture shop shortly after Christian started living there to meet Christian and interview John and Ace. Write a 50-250+ word newspaper article about them. Be sure to include a headline, plus answers to the journalist's questions of who, what, where, when, why and how. [You may want to include some information obtained from the video Christian at the World's End [part 1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvCjyWp3rEk]. Alternatively, you can video yourself as a tv correspondent filing a report about Christian, but provide a transcript of your report in addition to attaching your video.

c) The decision. Imagine that you overheard the conversation between Ace and John when they made the decision to find a way to get Christian back into the wild. Write a 50-250+ word dialogue between them that explains their reasoning, their hopes, and their concerns about this decision. [You may use the Helpful Hints Cube about Creating & Punctuating Dialogue as a resource. Be sure to click on the numbers at the bottom to view all 6 sides of the cube.]

Discussion Forum Assignments

8. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the following questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)

a) What makes a good lion guardian? After expressing their interest in buying Christian, in Chapter 1, the Harrods Department store staff who were caring for Christian informed the men that Ace and John must meet Christian "properly" so that they "could decide whether they would make the right human guardians for him" (13). What sorts of things might the Harrods staff be looking for in a potential lion guardian? Suggest some items that should be included on any official checklist that Christian's keepers might use in deciding who would be an appropriate "human guardian" for Christian. Be sure to explain the requirements fully and note how John and Ace do or do not fulfill each one.[Remember: You are required to post a thoughtful 3-4 sentence response. Please do not try to answer all parts of this question yourself, so that your classmates also have the opportunity to post their own intelligent responses to parts of this question!]

b) Impulse buy? Was Ace and John's decision to buy Christian carefully considered, or do you think that they chose to purchase him on impulse? When Christian the lion cub first came home with Ace and John, do you think they were well prepared to take care of him? What arrangements had Ace and John made in advance? Did they forget to think of anything important? Give examples from the text, videos, and other resources in the classroom to support your answer.

c) John and Ace. How would you describe John and Ace's friendship? Do you think they make a good team for caring for Christian? Would you expect that there would be some jealousy about which man Christian liked better? Do you think either of the men would have taken on the responsibility of keeping Christian on his own? Do you think it would be possible for one person to care for a lion on his/her own? Explain.

d) Still wild. Although Christian was very tame for a lion, there were a few incidents that reminded John and Ace that he was, and always would be, a wild animal. What were these incidents? How did John and Ace react to them? Have you ever experienced a similar scenario with an animal or pet? Explain.

e) Why can't he stay?John and Ace obviously enjoyed having Christian in their lives at London. They all had fun together! Why, then, did John and Ace decide that they had to find a new home for Christian, even though it would be hard on them and on Christian? What were the main factors that influenced their decision?

f) Changes. In Chapter 9, we hear all about Christian's new home "in the country" that Bill and Virginia built for him. After he has more room to roam and to live a life more suitable for a wild animal, what changes do Ace and John notice in him? How do they feel about these changes? Can you predict how Christian might change even more once he is released into the wild? Explain.

Optional Fun and Challenges:

  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games.

 

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.

 

Reviews


"The content of the course and its execution were outstanding! I think that it facilitated my daughter's learning: it was amazing to see her grow through the assignments. This was our first online course and my daughter is only 7 years old, so we did not know what to expect, but during the 10 weeks we were simply amazed at how well the course was put together and how much a child can learn by simply doing what the assignments ask her to do."
 
"I am so glad that my son had completed this wonderful program. It has a great balance of enhancing skills on reading, critical thinking, writing, learning new technologies and participating in a thoughtful discussion in academic setting. If the student takes the course seriously, the workload can be heavy, but it is well worth it, and the program does a good job to mix fun into the hard work."
 
"The course was excellent. The encouragement and opportunities to use a number of media (such as Web 2.0 tools) was particularly effective and helped to open up new avenues for my daughter."
 
"The instructor was extremely diligent in giving thoughtful feedback on my son's writing and review of other students work. She also engaged the whole class by asking them to interact with each other via their blog posts. This makes the whole learning process, while being rigorous, fun for my child."
 
"My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the course. The design of the course and materials provided was excellent. The course instructor provided prompt, insightful feedback on submitted work and made every effort to provide suggestions to extend my daughter." 
 
"The instructor's feedback was so detailed, encouraging, and specific.  My son really brightened up whenever we read her feedback together, and loved that she really responded to his unique view of the world.  It was obvious that she was listening to what he wrote. He loved making the magazine, the story based on the characters, and got so much better at articulating why he thought what he did."
 
"Very good books choices. Supportive instructor. Web 2.0 activities were excellent and really captured my child's interest." 
 
"The teacher was really fantastic, her comments helpful and my child understood them and it helped him improve! This was a great experience for me, as a parent and for my child! Thank you!"
 
"Thanks to the wonderful CTY online courses and terrific teachers, my son often teaches me and his 5th grade brother a thing or two about writing and grammar!"