The Good Dog Lesson Plan
- Grades: 3–5
Subject Area: Language Arts
Reading Level: 4.1
Have you ever wondered what a dog is thinking and saying when it wags its tail and barks loudly? In Avi's novel The Good Dog, he explores the magical world of dogs who talk, think, feel, and protect their human owners from life's dangers. The story revolves around McKinley, the head dog in the pack, who performs a variety of good deeds. Through all his wild adventures, McKinley learns valuable lessons about the kinship between dogs and wolves, as well as the special bonds between dogs and humans.
Students will explore and deeply understand the novel's unique point of view. They will meet this learning goal through journal writing, discussion, finding textual evidence, and synthesizing their ideas in a creative written response. They will also focus on the techniques an author uses to create a certain point of view.
Standard: Understands specific devices an author uses to accomplish his or her purpose (author's point of view)
If dogs could talk, what would they say? In a brief journal response, reflect on what dogs see, hear, feel, and think about in their daily lives.
- Share journal responses from the Warm-up Activity. Discuss the possible thoughts and feelings of dogs and other animals.
Explain to the class that The Good Dog is told from the point of view of McKinley, a dog who can communicate with other animals but not humans. Review the term "point of view" - the perspective from which a story is told. Remind the students that an author's point of view greatly affects how you read and understand the story.
- Read aloud Chapter 1 with the class. What do you notice about its point of view? How can you tell the novel is told from McKinley's point of view? For example, Jack is referred to as the "human pup," and McKinley uses phrases like "one of the sitting places near where the humans put their food when they ate"(p. 3).
- After reading a few more chapters, ask students to write an interior monologue from the point of view of one of the characters. Possible choices include: McKinley, Jack, Duchess, etc. An interior monologue contains the inner thoughts, feelings, and musings of a character.
- What is on the character's mind? What is he/she thinking, feeling, and wondering at this point? Use details from the story and other creative techniques (see responses to Step 3 of the Teaching Plan) to craft the character's point of view. 5.
- During the writing process, students will draft, revise, edit, and finally publish their monologues.
Other Books About Dog/Human Relationships
Star in the Storm
by Joan Hiatt Harlow
The heartwarming story of a young girl and her courageous Newfoundland dog.
Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls
A young boy living in the Ozarks becomes the owner of two coon dogs and teaches them to be champion hunters.
Dog People: Native Dog Stories
by Joseph Bruchac; Illustrated By Murv Jacob
Best-selling author and acclaimed Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac offers the first in a series of authentic story collections. Set in the northeastern U.S. 10,000 years ago, Dog People takes middle-graders back in time to the days when children and dogs had especially close relationships. Each of these Native American stories is an outdoor adventure, based on Abenaki culture, where children and dogs together find a way to survive.
by Fred Gipson
The classic, eloquently simple story of a boy and his dog in the Texas Hill Country. In this award-winning book, 14-year-old Travis comes to love the big, ugly dog and learns something about the pain of life as well.
by William H. Armstrong
Life is filled with hard times and hunger for a young African-American boy surviving in the South during the 19th century. A compelling story about a boy, his family, and his loyal dog, Sounder.
Other Books by Avi
The Man Who Was Poe
Nothing but the Truth
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Teaching Plan written by Lauren Gold