Thoughts for Teachers

Available Curricula and Lesson Plans

Jack London offers a way to address a wide variety of topics beyond his literature. We found well-developed lessons and assignments in unexpected places throughout the web. You'll find the through the History tab.

During Summer NEH seminars, some teachers created and donated lesson plans as well. We add these on the Lesson Plan tab. We welcome contributions of your own Jack London lesson plans or projects.

Books for Teachers

Brandt, Kenneth, and Jeanne Campbell Reesman, eds.. Approaches to Teachibng the Works of Jack London. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2015.
Curricula for teaching world literature from middle school to graduate level.

Dyer, Daniel. The Call of the Wild: Annotated and Illustrated.  University of Oklahoma, 1997.
Order this for your school library in hardback as well.Half the volume consists of maps, historical background, expansion of text material, glossary, etc., so that a reader can move from the literature into history, geography, myth, anthropology, and other topics as well.

Dyer, Daniel. The Call of the Wild for Teachers. University of Oklahoma, 1997.
A curriculum guide rich with plans, resources, and materials. Includes a keying to Dyer's edition of The Call of the Wild, but can be used with any edition.

Kanopy Free Films

Jack London: A Life of Adventure: Two 12-minute segments. Part 1 is an inspiring account of how reading led London to become a writer. Part 2 discusses how his adventures formed the basis for his major books, including Call of the Wild and People of the Abyss.

Jack London and the African-American Community: A28-minute  interview with Mary Rudge, expert on African-American history in Oakland. Her work uncovered the secret childhood of London in the multi-racial neighborhood of his youth.

To Build a Fire: Narrated by Orson Welles, this 52 minute film attempts to match the realism of London's story.

Making Assignments

From the start of this site, students have written to us for help.  We do not help them but politely redirect them to their instructor. Here are some thoughts we have based upon our experiences with students.who contact us. A general issue is students are unclear about how to approach their assignment.

  • Skim through this web site overall so you are familiar with what students can and cannot find. In order to avoid cut-and-paste papers, we provide primarily reference material. Still, some students may cut-and-paste from the on-line biographies, encyclopedia, and book summaries. Be alert to these by checking out key web sources on Jack London.
  • Teach students about the importance of citing sources and footnotes so they understand academic honesty and plagiarism. It will save them a lot of trouble in later classes and college to review these practices.
  • Be sure your local libraries have the materials students need to do their assignments. We often hear from students at 9-12 level who are told to find literary articles on Jack London, but there is no nearby junior college or university that would have these. Much of the Jack London scholarship is in journals or books available only at large academic libraries.
  • Another common problem is students who do not understand their assignment. If you want students to write a paper on Social Darwinism in Jack London's writings, then be sure they understand Social Darwinism, and what you expect them to do with that information. For example, take a different term, such as Atavism, and give examples of how you would put a paper together around that theme.
  • Terms clear to you may not be clear to students. Dr. Stasz discovered her college students did poorly on essays because they didn't understand key verbs: Explain, Trace, Compare and Contrast, Prove, Argue (for or against).
  • Here's a source with other writing links and advice. The College Resource Center Writing Guide includes even more extensive links to types of style, plagiarism, and creating an essay.

Please do not assign a project where students have to interview an expert. This seems to have become very common, and greatly intrudes on other people's time. We will not respond to such requests, except to refuse them politely.