My No Dead Dog Policy (broken)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I've always had a policy against making my students read books where the dog dies.  I love a good dog book, but the dog has to make it in the end.  There may be sad or scary parts, but I always promise my students that in the end, the dog will make it.  I can't stand it myself otherwise so I don't want to put them through it.  When I wrote my unit for Stone Fox, I thought I'd never stop crying at the end.

I just broke my own policy.  I wanted to teach Love That Dog by Sharon Creech because really, has there ever been a better gift to an upper elementary classroom teacher than this book?  I mean, do you teach poetry?  Like not if your principal or curriculum coordinator is asking but REALLY teach poetry?  It's tough.  I always say I'm going to do a "poem of the week" or dig into some quality poems for comprehension but it's hard.  Love That Dog is an entire novel written in poetry form WITH real poems snuck in there.

My students loved the book and so did I.  I've had my unit on TPT for a while for free (click here for the Comprehension Packet) but it was the first chance I've had to use the unit myself.  My students truly enjoyed the book and were so excited that the actual poems referenced in the story were in the back.  They were so enthralled by Robert Frost that I'm going to be able to capitalize on that and do more AND they wanted to know if Walter Dean Myers (the poet invited to Jack's school in the book) was a real poet and were so excited to find out that he was!

I had to confess to my students midway through that I was breaking my policy on dogs dying.  I told them it didn't actually count since the whole situation with the dog is told in flashback form and the boy is writing about a past experience.  They didn't buy it and I don't blame them... They nearly cried when we read the part about Sky getting hit by the car.  Then, as if I didn't feel bad enough, they wrote poems like this for their constructed response on their final test.

Even if I did feel extra bad for breaking my own policy when I read that poem, I'd say it's a sure sign that the unit was a success!  I highly recommend the book to anyone who teaches upper elementary and is tired of pretending to teach poetry.  And loves dogs.  Especially the last part.


  1. Wow. I am speechless. Thanks for sharing that with me in such a uniquely special way.

  2. Thanks for checking it out and sharing your sweet girl with me every day! I was speechless too. :)