Teaching Far North

Will Hobbs' authorial page provides some great resources for teaching this novel. Some of the ones I found most suitable for a classroom with a YA curriculum are featured below. Some of these can be used across content areas and are inherently interdisciplinary which is great for a middle school environment.  There are also many practical language arts and reading assignments, in addition to research assignments.

-- Gather information about the Canadian Northwest Territories, recently divided into two provinces. One is called Nunavut, governed by native peoples, and the other is the western NWT. You can have kids write to Northwest Territories Tourism, Box 1320, Yellowknife, NWT, CANADA X1A, 2L9, and request tourist information and maps. The Internet will also have lots of information. (www.gov.nt.ca)

— I've written a picture book, illustrated by Jill Kastner, which is set on the Nahanni River and is a companion to FAR NORTH. It's about a wolf pup who gets separated from her family and has to survive and find her way home on her own. It's called HOWLING HILL, and includes several episodes which parallel events in the novel.

— Using the map at the front of the story, make a huge enlargement map of the Nahanni Country that can be displayed in your classroom while the class is reading the book. Follow Gabe and Raymond as they move along, using colored pins or models that can be moved around on the map.

— Johnny Raven's letter (Chapter 14) is very important in this story. Write a letter from Raymond to Johnny, written after Johnny's death, in which Raymond responds to Johnny's concerns and tells Johnny his own hopes and plans for the future.

— Raymond didn't speak the Slavey language, and Johnny knew almost no English. Learn more about the languages of native people who live or have lived in your own area. Are there still people who speak or understand them? Are there efforts underway to preserve these languages? Did your own ancestors speak different languages? Does anyone in your family still speak or understand your family's traditional languages? Can a language go "extinct" if no one speaks it anymore? What might be lost if this were to happen?

— Back to the Internet: See if you can find anything under Dene, Athabaskan, Slavey, Canadian First Nations, Nunavut, Canadian Northwest Territories. Gabe's dad was up there around Yellowknife working on diamond exploration. Can you find anything about this new diamond boom in the Northwest Territories?

Some other terrific resources I've found for teaching the novel:

The link below is for a literature circle activity concerning the novel for middle school students:

Activities, links, discussions questions, and related texts to teach across the curriculum can be found at the website below. The activities are fantastic and practical and can be used certainly in a unit on Hobbs' text.

Hobbs, W. (n.d.). Will Hobbs Official Website - Teachers & Librarians. Will Hobbs Official Website - Children's Book Author. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from http://www.willhobbsauthor.com/teachers.html#farnorth