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Lesson 3: Taking a Stand on Sled Dogs
In this lesson, students take a stand on the treatment of sled
dogs and attempt to persuade others of their point of view.
Grade Level: 48
- Use interactive resources to learn about the Iditarod, and
specifically the lives and treatment of sled dogs
- Read and/or participate in interviews of mushers and other
Iditarod experts to understand better the treatment of sled dogs
- Formulate an opinion on the issue of the treatment of sled
- Write a persuasive essay to convince readers of their opinion
- computer(s) with Internet access
- Idea Web graphic
- Iditarod books (see Recommended Books)
- U.S. map with Alaska clearly visible
- Writing paper
- optional: LCD or overhead projector to display articles
- optional: graph paper
Step 1: Using the Idea Web graphic organizer, have students
share what they know about the Iditarod (what it is, where it
is, who participates, etc.) and record the information.
Step 2: Assign students to read the following background
articles on their own:
Step 3: Draw students' attention to the U.S. map. Ask
a volunteer to locate Alaska on the map. Point out how far north
it is. Ask what they think the weather must be like that far north.
Step 4: Drawing on their reading and study of the map,
review the Idea Web with the students. Have them confirm or reject
original ideas they had about the Iditarod. They should replace
ideas that were rejected with new information they've learned.
Step 5: Discuss the role of sled dogs in the Iditarod,
pointing out that the 1,150-mile Iditarod trail is grueling for
both the mushers and the team sled dogs they drive. What do students
know about the dogs? What do they think about sled dogs participating
in the race? Explain that mushers consider their dogs athletes
trained to perform and anxious to compete. Animal-rights
groups argue that the race is cruel to the dogs, driving them
beyond their endurance and sometimes even to death. Tell students
that over the next few days they will learn more about sled dogs
and will form their own opinions about their treatment. Then they
will try to persuade others of their point of view.
Step 1: Assign students to read the articles below independently.
Students should take notes related to the topics and questions
they've created. They should also be considering the question:
Are sled dogs treated humanely or not? Using the For
and Against Worksheet, have them take notes as they read.
Step 2: In addition to reading the articles, students
should choose one or more of the selected Iditarod books to read
on their own for additional information.
Step 3: Drawing on their research, students should form
an opinion about the treatment of sled dogs. Have each student
voice his opinion in our Vote
Step 1: Explain to students that they will now use what
they've learned to write a persuasive essay supporting their position
regarding the treatment of sled dogs. Provide background on persuasive
writing, the goal of which is to convince readers to agree with
you. Emphasize that persuasive writing relies heavily on facts
all opinions must be supported. Students can review
the articles, research the topic at the library, or use additional
Step 2: Have students visit Writer's
Workshop: Persuasive Writing. As students progress through
each step of the writing process, they should focus on developing
an essay that uses researched facts to support their position.
Step 3: Working in pairs, have students review each others
essays using the Peer
Step 4: Help students Publish
their essays on the site.
Step 1: Take a class vote to find out how many students
believe sled dogs are treated cruelly and how many believe they're
mistreated. Have students compare the class with the online results.
Step 2: Invite students to read aloud their persuasive
essays to the rest of the class.
Step 3: After everyone has read their essays aloud, ask
students if they've been convinced of the opposite opinion. Repeat
the vote from step 1 and compare the results to the original poll.
Encourage student who have changed their opinions to explain what
convinced them of the opposing view. What facts or ideas did they
find most persuasive?
Assessment & Evaluation
Use this Project Rubric: Taking
a Stand on Sled Dogs to assess students' proficiency with
this activity. Evaluate whether students' skills are improving
or where they may need additional support or instruction.
- Host a debate on the issue of the treatment of sled dogs.
- Have students participate in the Be
a Musher Race and then write a journal of the race through
the eyes of a sled dog.
- Using the results of the class vote, have students calculate
percentages and create a pie chart. Remind them to include students
who voted "Undecided" as part of the pie. Have students
compare the class pie chart to the national vote online.
- Using their persuasive writing as inspiration for a script,
have students create a 60-second videotaped commercial designed
to convince others of their views.
- Using a multimedia software program, students can create
an interactive version of their writing complete with graphics,
photos, and recordings that assist in stating their argument.
- Have students publish their persuasive essays in the editorial
section of their school or local newspaper.