Captain Ahab's Weird Wide World: Sergeant Stubby

article by Cheryl Bullow , photo by Alamy

Learning Intention:

I am learning how participate in a group speaking activity so that I can further my understanding of the text.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify the different points of view (people and animals) in a nonfiction text.
  • I can adopt one of these points of view in a hotseat speaking activity.
  • I can use a range of persuasive techniques when I participate in the hotseat speaking activity.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about the position from which a story is told or the various people that make up a text can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View.

More information about the features that make a text, or point of view trustworthy can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Authority.

Read the text with the class. After reading, identify the different points of view or people / animals that are involved in events in the article. Students should identify:

  • The stray dog Stubby
  • The young officers who found him
  • The enemy soldiers
  • The injured soldiers he rescued
  • The senior officers who awarded him the title of Sergeant
  • The civilians who watched him in a parade
  • The historians who researched him

Explain that all these points of view have some level of authority over the story of Sergeant Stubby, either because they were involved directly in the events, or because they have researched the events (the historians).

Ask students to identify the purpose of the article (to inform). Students might also recognise that the article’s main idea, that Stubby was an extremely brave and useful dog, is also persuasive. Provide students with the document: Stage 2 Comprehending and Creating Persuasive Text using Pathos, Logos and Ethos to assess and evaluate (available on The School Magazine’s website). Assess which techniques the article has used. For example, the article uses logos by providing a range of facts such as dates and specific details. It also uses pathos by using sad examples such as injured soldiers and gas attacks.

Explain to students that they are now going to participate in a Hot Seat activity. Explain that volunteers will each adopt one of the points of view expressed in the article. They will then be experts appearing on a panel discussing the topic: should Sergeant Stubby have a memorial named after him?

Allocate the points of view to students in the class. Ask them to choose whether they will use pathos, logos and/or ethos to persuade the audience in their answers. For example, if they were the historian, they might use logos as their main technique. In contrast, if they were Stubby, they might use pathos and tell lots of heartwarming stories. A General / Senior Officer may use ethos as they are the expert in the matter of war.

Students who have not been allocated a point of view should come up with a range of questions to ask the panel. Suggested questions include:

  • Where did Stubby come from?
  • What are some examples of Stubby’s brave acts?
  • In what ways was Stubby more useful than a human soldier?

Conduct the activity before having a class vote on whether a memorial should be erected in Sergeant Stubby’s honour.