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Kayla Chonoles

Dr. Shoffner
MSSE 470E
October 16, 2017
Pedagogical Paper #2: Adolescent Literature
Although Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk is not a particularly difficult novel, it offers the
opportunity for rich discussion and a depth of learning for adolescent readers. Beers and Probst’s
idea that “[r]igor is not an attribute of a text but rather a characteristic of our behavior with that
text” is one I would strive to demonstrate in a unit using this novel. I believe Wolf Hollow would
be suited to seventh grade as a class guided text; not only because the protagonist and narrator is
the same age, but because seventh graders are typically learning to cope with more responsibility
at school and at home. As sixth graders they are still learning the ropes of middle school, and by
eighth grade they are more independent and are expected to handle more responsibility. Like
Annabelle, seventh graders are in a transitionary period where they are discovering their identity
and balancing growing expectations. I want to teach Wolf Hollow because it will encourage
students to think about how people and events change us, just as we see characters develop
through the plot of a novel. By analyzing character development, plot, and conflict, students will
learn about emotional growth and what Annabelle learns about growing up (SOL 7.5a). Wolf
Hollow also provides plenty of opportunities to talk about setting and how it not only affects the
events in a story, but can reflect the mood or themes in the story (SOL 7.5a). By using a text set
that provides background information, students will also be able to “compare and contrast details
in literary and informational nonfiction texts” (SOL 7.5h). Teaching this novel will also provide
me with opportunities to give students reading strategies in class before they try them on their
own during independent readings. I could see some possible resistance from students who claim
that they have trouble connecting to something that happened so long ago, but I think learning
more about the time might help close that gap, as well as having free-writes where students
compare and contrasts themselves to Annabelle. The resistance I am worried about, though, is
parental concerns: I would expect some parents to be concerned about the traumatic experiences
of Ruth losing her eye, or Betty’s rescue and death.
I would start the unit off by engaging the students using Gallagher’s (2011) prompt
“What will happen when…,” allowing students time to think and write about what will happen,
or what they will be like, when they are “grown up.” I will ask them to support this idea with
how they know they are “grown up.” This can then lead into a discussion on what it means to
change an mature and what situations might force or spark that change. This connects to
Annabelle’s reflections on how much she changed “the year [she] turned twelve” and what she
learned from her experiences (Wolk, 2016).
To support students and make the text more accessible, I would provide students with a
text set that contributes to students’ background knowledge of America post World War I and
during World War II, especially in regards to life on the homefront. Ana and Sarah’s
presentations helped me realize that providing students with more context can help them become
more invested in the novel and help them make important connections. This text set would
include video clips of propaganda, as well as short clips from Crash Course videos (“World War
I: US History” and “World War II part 1: US History”) to add to their background knowledge of
the wars. It would also include children’s books like Nim and the War Front and A Place Where
Sunflowers Grow; it could also include American Girl books (Molly is from 1944), comic books
that were popular at the time (Captain America or Superman), as well as the how to book Make
Do and Mend to help students learn more about rationing. To fill out the text set, I would include
articles on the death tolls, post-World War I cynicism and shell-shock, and rationing and home
life during World War II. These more accessible texts will hook the students and allow them to
engage with Wolf Hollow more deeply, rather than struggle because they are missing context
(Tovani, 2004).
Because there is so much to discuss about the novel, and analyzing elements of narrative
structure can be confusing, I would read Wolf Hollow during class, using read-alouds to keep the
students engaged (Fisher and Frey, 2015). In my practicum, I have seen and lead read-alouds to
keep students engaged, model fluency, and prompt student’s critical thinking. I noticed that
students are able to make predictions and think critically about the conflict between two
characters because of the teacher support read-alouds provide them. At the end of these classes, I
would have students fill out exit slips, using Allison’s (2009) deskside questions: for example,
“Generate two effective questions,” “What have you learned about the main character so far?” or
““Make a prediction and use evidence to support it.” In MSSE 370 and MSSE 371, I learned
how effective exit slips can be, especially as a way to get students to reflect on what they have
learned that day and as a method of formative assessment, as they can be easy to go through
quickly to check for understanding. I would also use free write prompts, like Gallagher’s (2011)
prompt, “Why do___ behave that way?” to encourage students to think about character
development, how we learn new information about characters, and why conflict might arise due
to differences in characters.
To assess student knowledge after reading the novel, I think having students fill out plot
flow charts where they show the connections between elements of narrative structure, as well as
connections to the information they learned from non-fictional sources would be a
comprehensive way to assess. I could allow them to make rough drafts and discuss their charts in
groups before the final draft is due (Greenstein, 2013). I learned the importance of differentiation
and have seen students bored with material that is too simple because it is aimed at the class
average readiness, so I would have students choose between two different kinds of graphic
organizers. The lower-level learners could use a more detailed, but traditional Freytag's Pyramid
diagram, where high-level learners could use a flow diagram that looks like a house, to
understand how the narrative elements were chosen by the author to create the story and how it
builds on itself (Fisher and Frey, 2012).
Overall, Wolf Hollow provides an excellent opportunity for students to engage in a text
that is in their range, while being able to gain a wealth of knowledge by engaging rigorously with
the text. This text lends itself to critical thinking and discussion questions, and the chance to
practice making connections and gaining new understanding through background knowledge. I
believe this book would appeal to many students and would be an excellent learning experience
for every student in my classroom.