How are you like an animal? Grrrrrrr? Hsssss?
Getting students personally involved in essay writing can be challenging, but this activity gives them motivation! Students watch an animal movie and relate the main animal to themselves (humans) which can be quite creative and interesting. This well-structured essay (based on a few notes they take on the movie) can easily be used for a documentary or for a fiction or nonfiction movie. I first used it with the informative MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, but TURNER AND HOOCH with Tom Hanks is a fun one! Modify this activity by showing your favorite movie with an animal as a major character. My students loved the movie DOLPHIN TALE which is a story based on a true event.
This is a fun essay to read because students need to relate the main animal's behavior to a human's, perhaps even their own. Be creative and show a documentary on ants! An intro activity could be a discussion of anthropomorphism. Psych Central has an interesting article: http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/03/01/why-do-we-anthropomorphize/11766.html. "Two Dogs Dining" is a funny YouTube video showing dogs eating like humans at a restaurant.
The worksheet for the notes makes it clear for your students to get examples they will use in the essay, and a detailed outline (what they need to put in each paragraph) will give students the organization to write a well-developed essay. It is rewarding to grade because the content of their essays shouldn't need as much revising. Included is also an essay example based on MARCH OF THE PENGUINS which is a good model whether you watch that documentary or a different movie altogether. This topic fosters interesting discussion, too. How are you like Hooch? What kind of an ant are you? Wheeee! Have fun with this!
Besides sharing their essays, an optional closing activity could be discussing the difference between anthropomorphism and personification. A good four-minute video about this is located at http://vimeo.com/31769868.
Have some surprising fun teaching essay writing with this captivating lesson! Your feedback and/or model essays from other movies are more than welcome. Ruff! Ruff! Bark. Growl.