Island of the Blue Dolphins Research

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TSWBAT utilize information gathered in the text to choose a related topic in which to examine further.

Big Idea

Let's continue our exploration of the Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Warm Up

10 minutes

By 5th grade, the students have engaged in many types of research.  We will be concentrating on CCSS W.5.2 which provides the kids the chance to examine a topic and convey ideas and information gathered, in a clear manner.  Using computers or researching in books they decide on the topic they want to further investigate.  I give everyone the worksheet Setting up Research.

I give them an opportunity to choose what they'd like to research for their project:

Chumash Indians


Animals and Wildlife from the novel


Scott O'Dell, himself

If someone brings an idea related to Island of the Blue Dolphins, to me, I'll just make a judgment call.  Experience has it that when a student really wants to do their own thing, something about that permission leads to greater success.

Student Example 1

Student Example 2


30 minutes

The students are on their own to research their chosen topic.  While I often enjoy giving them the opportunity to work with groups, in this case I'm evaluating their research and writing skills.  We conduct our research on computers in the library where the kids can prewrite from a variety of sources.  I give them a copy of the Literature Response rubric ahead of time so that they know exactly what I'm looking for in their final copies.

What we do concentrate on in the classroom are the components necessary to writing a successful paper.  We take the Literature Response Rubric apart section by section and review the finer points.  I ask the kids to write a few words about the areas on the rubric in which they feel challenged.  Reading these responses gives me a preliminary area to focus upon with each child as we conference through the task. Here is an example.


40 minutes

Another area that must be discussed is how to take notes.  This can be harder than it sounds for some kids.  My preferred method is using 3x5 cards to write out the sections.  The cards can be shuffled and organized to aid with paragraphing, and multi-colored cards can be used to distinguish between different sections.  This is opposed to writing notes on notebook paper, which can get messy with lines and arrows.  There are many different methods in which to do this Look Here

It's imperative they write in their own words, for a paper free of plagiarism.  At NO time should they copy words directly from the book because it's easy to forget if the words are theirs, or not, after awhile.  This is their first research project of the year, and it's important to set the habits correctly from the beginning.  In the second half of the year, they'll be writing the 5th grade State Reports, and having a solid foundation is necessary.

In addition to taking the notes, they need to keep an organized listing of where the information comes from.  In connection with research, the students must provide a list of sources, W.5.8, after gathering relevant information from print and digital sources and summarizing that information into notes. 

Bibliography Template