Students from a Lemoyne Middle School’s sixth grade reading class completed their Iditarod unit by reading and writing about stories like: Balto, by Standiford, TOGO, by Blake, Where’s the Boss? by Harter for background knowledge of the Iditarod and sled dog experiences. We then read Gary Paulsen’s Woodsong.
One of the writing pieces they completed was the diamante poem format to reinforce identity of cause/effect relationships.
Line 1: Poem topic (the cause)
Line 2: Two adjectives about the cause/topic
Line 3: Three -ing words about the cause/topic
Line 4: Four nouns or a short phrase linking the cause/topic with its effect
Line 5: Three -ing words about the effect
Line 6: Two adjectives about the effect
Line 7: The effect
spreading, killing, dying
Disease kills; dog’s relay
sledding, mushing, delivering
Diphtheria broke out in Nome, killing many people,
so they held a dog sled relay race to get the serum for diphtheria there.
for Diphtheria is needed
killing, terrifying, spreading
Mushers must have a relay.
willing, helping, needing
The serum is delivered!
Diphtheria breaks out in Nome and serum is delivered from 800 miles.
The ice breaks
and Balto’s feet get wet
fracturing, freezing, frightening
Balto’s paws; Gunnar’s hands
rushing, rubbing, reacting
Gunnar rubs Balto’s paws in
the powdery snow
to keep them from
Balto’s feet got wet from the ice breaking and were in danger of freezing,
so Gunnar rubbed Balto’s feet in the powdery snow.
The sled slipped
and slid on the ice.
worrying, falling, wobbling
Gunnar, medicine, snow, sled
panicing, devastating, terrifying
Gunnar lost the
The sled slipped and slid on the ice, so Gunnar lost the medicine.
The ice cracks.
frustrating, exhausting, pacing
team stops to warm feet.
rubbing, tiring, saving
Gunnar stopped to warm
Students used “TOGO” by Robert Blake, and then “Balto” by Natalie Standiford to further identify and describe characters and understand the history of the Iditarod. The students’ narrative poems were written to the following given defined characterization descriptions:
- Character’s name
- Two words describing the character
- Three words phrase describing the setting
- Four-word phrase stating the problem
- Five-word phrase describing one event
- Six-word phrase describing another event
- Seven-word phrase describing a third event
- Eight-word phrase describing a solution to the problem.
People have diphtheria disease.
Townspeople discuss the diphtheria problem.
Announcement gets put on the radio.
Sled dogs get sent out for Serum.
Gunnar gets the serum to everybody in time!
In Nome, Alaska
Get serum to Nome.
The Safety Point was deserted.
Balto and Gunnar saved the town.
The serum was given to the sick.
The serum cured the disease gotten there.
Harsh Alaska, 1925
Two children have diphtheria.
Twenty-one dog teams including Balto’s
A big blizzard came but mushers proceeded.
He slipped, fell, and lost the serum.
Balto was a hero when he delivered serum.
January 1925, Nome
Diphtheria outbreak in Nome
Balto is Gunnar’s lead dog.
Hand-off driver wasn’t at the checkpoint.
Diphtheria outbreak requires serum; stuck in Anchorage.
Balto gets to Nome and people are cured.