Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 2, 2012

Internet Workshop

Internet Workshop for The One and Only Ivan

I would like to create an assignment that links the reading of the story ‘The One and Only Ivan’, to an internet workshop that allows the students to investigate an animal of their choosing, in preparation for creating their own story that they will write. The story they will write can be about any animal of their choosing as long as the animal has been known to be a part of some kind of captivity (Zoo, circus, farm etc.) They will write the story from the animal’s point of view that not only tells the animal’s story, but the story of humans the animal interacts with in the same way Ivan does in ‘The One and Only Ivan.’  I would supply other stories for reference such as Charlotte’s Web.

I want the students to have a foundation to write an authentic telling of a story from an animal’s point of view. Using Ivan as a guide, we would discuss how the Applegate had to know a significant amount of information to make the story realistic. We would also discuss how at the end of the story, Applegate provided information about the current whereabouts of Ivan.

The students would first need to choose an animal and complete research on the animal to assist them in completing a story using facts they discover as a foundation. Once they have gathered enough information to develop their story, they will then create a story of their own imagination using only the guidelines that it has to be from an animal’s point of view, and it must be an animal with interaction with humans. Once the story is complete, the students are than to create a creative way to display and present the information they gathered for their story on their animal in a similar way we saw with Applegate and Ivan. They can create a website, an internet video, blog, whatever they like as long as it provides accurate information relating to the animal in their story. They final presentation project will need to not only be comprised of accurate information, it will need to also link to other sites for further information as well as proper citations.

For the internet workshop:

“In the internet workshop, teachers create a research activity where students are directed to specific Web sites to gather information, complete a research activity, and share the information with their classmates during a workshop format (Leu 2002).”

Dr. Frye mentioned four steps delineated by Leu (2002). The teacher locates sites and develops the research activities. From there, the student completes the research activities and then they share and exchange the information.

While this will be a writing project, students will be required to do research in preparation for their writing assignment to allow for the story of their animal to be as accurate and believable as possible. My target grade will be for 4th or 5th grade, but I am sure modifications can be made to any parts of this project for various grades.

To introduce the project and the book Ivan as a class we would explore these sites:

These sites serve as providing information about the real Ivan as well as more information and facts on gorillas. Students will discuss how Applegate incorporated the facts and  information into her story just as they will be doing. Students will then be provided with many sites they can explore that will assist them in their research. Since they are allowed to choose their own animal, the research may change depending on what they need to find.

Arctic Animals


Animal Planet Wild Animals A-Z

Smithsonian Animal Index

National Geographic Kids Animals

National Geographic Young Explorers

These sites should at least provide the students with information to choose their animal for research as well as provide plenty of facts to get them started on their research. Most students should be able to find all of the information needed, but if they need more depending on their story, they will be able to continue their search easier.

For a kid friendly search engine:

This search engine provides a place students can search and choose which avenue they want their focus. Under the specialized searches, there is a place for an Animal search, an animal diversity database as well as many other generic and more specialized searches. In addition to searching for facts on animals, students would also need to search for facts on zoos, circuses, farms or other areas the setting of their story may take place.

Guiding Questions for Research:

What is your animal?
Is your animal a mammal, retile, bird, amphibian, fish etc
What are your animal’s features? Describe their body.
How does your animal move?
Walk? Swim? Use fins? Legs? How many? etc
Where does your animal live (Habitat)?
What is there native country/location?
Do they live on sea, land, desert, etc?
What is there shelter like?
What kind of climate do they live in?
How do they adapt to their environment?
What do they eat?
How do they catch/gather their food or prey?
How do they eat their food?
What is the life cycle of your animal?
What are your animals friends? Enemies?
What are some WOW (I liked this term) facts about your animal you want to include?

I want to supply my students with enough kid friendly, engaging, and accurate web resources at the same time giving them enough freedom to explore and search on their own. It is my hope that allowing them to choose their own animal to research will keep them interested and engaged in locating facts and information. By connecting the project to Ivan, students can see that an author has to do research sometimes in writing to create a believable story. I also want the information they find to become relevant to them which is why I want them to use the information to write their stories as well as to create a final project using media resources to display the information they have found for others to read.



  1. Brilliant…absolutely brilliant! Not to mention creative and thought-provoking! Now, let’s actually create the assignment…create the instructions, graphic organizers, etc. and put it on a Web site…create your own. 🙂
    Also, I would love to connect this to the Core Standards…can you make the connections to Science, Social Studies and Reading? Let’s talk more…I LOVE this idea!

  2. I’m thinking 4th grade as science covers animal habitats…you could contrast their natural with captivity!

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