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Learning Objectives

Students will close read and analyze “A Dog’s Tale” by Mark Twain.

*Note: This is a multi-day lesson.


Grade Levels



Common Core English Language Arts Standards

Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.


Materials Needed

Student copies of “A Dog’s Tale” by Mark Twain

Large Poster Board (One per student group)

Art Supplies (markers, glue, etc.)

Literary Terms Document: HERE

Group Poster Project Directions: HERE

Mark Twain- A Dog’s Tale (Audiobook) on YouTube: HERE

Computer or Personal Cellular devices with Internet Access

Classroom Computer with Sound Capabilities



Prior to the Lesson

  • Before conducting this lesson, introduce students to Mark Twain, and read his famous novels, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Introduction and Instruction

  • Preface “A Dog’s Tale” by discussing how times have changed, especially since the early twentieth century, when Mark Twain wrote the short story. In the early 1900s, animals could be subjected to cruelty and scientific experimentation, called vivisection.  Mark Twain was a major supporter of the Anti-Vivisection movement.  In current times, there are many animal cruelty laws in place to protect our dear companions, like dogs. 
  • Pair students with a partner and hand out the Literary Terms Document. Advise students to work together to research definitions for the literary terms and then discuss/review the terms together as a class.
  • Tell students that they will be using these terms to create a poster highlighting the short story they will be listening to and reading, “A Dog’s Tale, “written by Mark Twain.
  • Have students listen to an audio version of “A Dog’s Tale,” by Mark Twain on YouTube. Instruct them to write down any important details, dog breeds that are mentioned, unknown words, concerns, or comments while they listen.
  • When finished, have a brief classroom discussion on student’s feelings and reactions to the short story.

Independent Partner Project

  • Pair students with a partner. Hand out copies of “A Dog’s Tale” to students to reference. 
  • Hand out posters, Poster Directions, and art supplies to each student group.
  • Give students ample time to complete their projects in class. Circulate and assist student groups.

Review and Closing

  • Allow student groups to share their finished posters with the class. Display around the classroom.
  • Have a deeper discussion about the meaning of “A Dog’s Tale”, the feelings it stirs up in readers, and how it portrays Mark Twain’s stance on the treatment of animals during that time.



Twain, Mark.  “A Dog’s Tale.” New York City, Harper and Brothers, 1904.

19th Century American Writers.  “Mark Twain- A Dog’s Tale (audiobook).” YouTube, 16 Feb 2017,