Webquest for
The Call of the Wild
Diary of an Adventure.
Can you survive and prosper, or will the Yukon claim another dreamer? 
In August 1896,  Skookum Jim Mason, Dawson Charlie and George Washington Carmack found gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada's Yukon Territory. Their discovery set off one of the greatest gold rushes in history.

All kinds of men (and women too), sold or gave up everything they had, and tried to strike it rich. A few actually did (mostly the early arrivals), some decided to profit from the gold fever of others. Some had to move back to wherever they came from, broke and broken, and many didn't make it at all. The Canadian Mounties (their organization began during this tumultuous time) tried to keep order, but there were scams and hoodlums and all kinds of unsavory characters. You had to watch your back, as well as the weather.

Jack London wrote vividly about life during that time, and the effects the harsh environment and circumstances had on the men and animals who lived through it. Now it's your turn.
(Pic from: University of Washington Libraries)

Before reading the novel Call of the Wild, by Jack London, you will create a character from the Yukon gold rush, and research what his/her experience might have been like. You will create a diary with images of your experience (this can take many forms including a scrapbook, a Power Point presentation, or a web page), and predict where your character might be in three years.

By the end, you should have a good understanding  and knowledge of the historical/cultural context of the Yukon gold rush. You should be able to use information you find on the 'net to formulate knowledgeable, supportable opinions of what your character's chances would have been, what hardships he/she might have faced, and what their reasons for being there were. You will work together with the members of your team to decide what information to use and how to present it.
(Pic from: Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park)

The class will be divided into groups of four. Each group will be nominally based in Dyea, Skagway, or Dawson. Before you decide who's who, do some group research about the time (1898) and place.

Then decide which role each person will research and create a journal for:
Dawson Group:
Canadian Mountie
Dawson Merchant
Scam Artist in Dawson
Dogsled Mail Carrier
Skagway Group:
Male stampeder
Female Stampeder 
Skagway Merchant
Sled Dog
Dyea Group:
Male Stampeder 
Female Stampeder 
Dyea Merchant
Sled Dog

Use the links in the Resources section to research and create a character.
You should also use the suggested keywords to search for more links.
To begin with, create a "sketch" of your character:

The pre-research and the choosing of characters and names should be done collaboratively. You may either create a realistic fictional character, use a real person you find in your research.

As you research, take notes about the experiences you would have had, and the hardships you would have faced. Were you prepared? What was the day-to-day experience like? What kinds of people did you deal with? What equipment did you need? Were you able to get it? What problems did you have? Was it what you expected? Did you succeed? Did you survive?

Your job will be to create a journal of your character's experience. It should include:

Your group should collaborate on the eventual fates of your group's characters. What seems most plausible, and in keeping with history?

Your journals may take almost any form, including a scrapbook, Power Point, or web page. Presentation and mechanics both count, as well as content. Extra credit for especially authentic presentations. Your group will present your journals together.
(Pic from: University of Washington Libraries)

Remember; it will be up to you and your group to keep track of the titles and URLs of the sites you use for your information and images.

General Resources for all Characters and Background.

Resources for Specific Characters. Search Strings You Might Try to Find More Resources.
Of course, as you research, you'll come up with more.

Evaluation (200 points)

Scoring for Character Sketch (50)

Scoring for Journal (150)

(Pic from: Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.)


Now you and your group will present your journals to the class.
Please be prepared to take questions about your character and your research.
Bonus credit for appearing in costume or answering questions in character.

Now that you are fairly knowledgeable about the life and times of people during the Yukon gold rush, we can compare our perceptions with Jack London's descriptions. Is he realistic? Is he over-sensationalising? Is The Call of the Wild true to the time?

Let's find out.

(Pic of street in Dyea from: The Smithsonian Postal Museum.)

Teacher Page

Grade Level:
This webquest is intended for middle school students. (Our district reads The Call of the Wild in eighth grade.)

Materials/Time Needed:
At least one computer with an internet connection for every 4-5 students. Ideally this would take place in a computer lab, over the course of about a week. The students will also need access to word processing, and imaging software. (Freeware includes OpenOffice as a substitute for MS Office and PhotoFiltre as a substitute for Photoshop.) Those that choose to present a Power Point type journal would need the appropriate software (OpenOffice has a Power Point equivalent), and the same goes for those that choose to present web pages (SeaMonkey from Mozilla has a WYSIWYG editor built in.) Students will also need a printer.

Standards Addressed (California - Grade 8 English-Language Arts):

Desired Student Outcomes: Assessment:
Use the scoring guides given.

Tips for Delivery:
The students should be able to follow the process fairly independently. You might give some mini-lessons about narrowing your search with quotes or using strings of words. I would also ephasize giving credit for the information AND the graphics.  I would allot about a week, and then another day or two for presenting.

You should give the presentation a separate grade, and perhaps use a panel of students to ask questions. This way, you address even more standards, and the kids get to see each other's work. You probably already have a presentation rubric for other projects.

After you do it once, I don't have to tell you to keep samples for the next round. That also gives you an opportunity to tweak it based on the results you get the first time. Please let me know if you come up with any changes that might improve this quest.

The Author:
Mr. Coward teaches 7th grade English at Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo, CA.  He has been teaching for 17 years.
For more resources, please visit: SeventhGradeEnglish.com.
E-mail: mcoward@slcusd.org.

All images taken from the site listed in the Resources section, and credited where they are used.
Credit goes to Bernie Dodge for creating the first webquest, and defining the main ideas and rubrics.
Thanks to George Smith for the WebQuest class which this quest is a result of.
Permission is granted for others to use and modify this webquest, as long as credit is given, and the use is not for profit.x