In the seventh grade class, I love covering the story Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry. Students at that age usually connect with Mafatu and his struggle to overcome his fear of the ocean. I think it helps that we live on a Micronesian island as well (French Polynesia is not the same as Micronesia, but there are some similarities in culture and climate). Each year, I try to keep it fresh for the next class of seventh graders by changing some of the activities we engage in. No two years are exactly the same. Each year we cover the author's purpose, analyze the characters, identify symbolism, build vocabulary and make predictions as we read this story. Last year, we watched a documentary on a teenager who sailed the world and wrote a review on it. This year, we created post reading projects.
The students were given several options to choose from:
1. Build a 3D replica of an ancient Polynesian sailing ship (extra points if it is buoyant)
2. Give a power point presentation and research paper on ancient French Polynesian sailing, navigation, and heroes. (research paper minimum: 3 pages, size 12,1.5 spaced/8 slides)
3. Build a 3D replica of your favorite scene in the book
4. Paint a colorful mural of at least 4 scenes from the story
5. Write a 5 entry diary from Mafatu’s father’s point of view (rub w/ tea to make look old)
6. Create a 5-6 page colorful comic book based on Call It Courage with Mafatu, Uri and Kivi going on an island adventure. There should be at least 4 boxes on each page.
They were graded based on six categories and could score a maximum of four points in each category. The categories were presentation (volume, diction, posture, explanation, cooperation), effort, creativity, knowledge of the story and project, relevance & accuracy, and organization. Overall, the students enjoyed working on their projects and performed extremely well.