Introduction to Island of the Blue Dolphins

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SWBAT experience thematic concepts from Island of the Blue Dolphins, build prior knowledge and become familiar with content-specfic vocabulary

Big Idea

What does it mean to really use your resources?

Cue Set

5 minutes

During the cue set, scholars very quickly reflect on the following questions: What do all living things need to survive? How do we meet our basic needs? 

The idea here is that we are gearing up to read the book, Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Some of my scholars may have numerous experiences with some of the common themes of the book (using what nature provides, survival, etc.).  Other scholars may have limited experiences with these concepts.  As is such, today is a day of exploration - a time to build background knowledge and access prior knowledge before delving into the text.  Scholars LOVE the start of a new unit or book because we always start with something concrete and fun to engage, hook and build knowledge that will enable scholars to better comprehend the text.  

As scholars reflect on the two questions above, they jot down their thinking.  Scholars have 2 minutes to jot down their thoughts, 30 seconds to share with a friend, and then I take 2 friends from my cup and 3 volunteers.  Instead of doing a traditional "call on" each student with a raised hand, I have volunteers pop-corn out their answers.  When scholars popcorn out, they stand up and shout out their answer.  They regulate who goes next, and they know if someone is talking, they must wait until that person is finished before they pop up and share their answer.  Click here to see scholars popcorn out

Teaching Strategy

20 minutes

Each table group of scholars is given a "survival toolkit" and a picture of a natural environment.  I explain that scholars were camping in the wilderness together (with their table group).  The picture of the natural environment is where they were camping (I have some pictures of islands, deserts, etc.  Each environment is different for each group, but the toolkit is the same).  Click here for printable pictures of the Different Environments.  

I explain the task:  A natural disaster occurred and all technology was destroyed.  All that is left is what is in your toolkit.  Scholars have 20 minutes to work together to develop a survival plan that will enable them to live for a year.  Scholars must only use the resources in their toolkit to explain how they will survive in the given environment.  Here is a picture of scholars creating their survival plans.  

Here's an example of 1 group's discussion: 


The idea is that scholars will experience a time where they must rely on natural resources for their survival.  They will begin to unpack the many uses that different natural resources may have (i.e. a deer could be used for meat, to make some shoes and to make a blanket).  This will help them to connect a bit with Karana (character in Island of the Blue Dolphins) and it will also help them to experience two of the major themes of the book: survival and using that which nature provides. 

This experience will help scholars to be excited about the text and it will also enable them to better comprehend the text. 

Guided Practice

20 minutes

During the guided practice, scholars present their survival plans to one another.  Each group has exactly 2 minutes to present their plan, and they take 1 minute for questions.  Scholars present their plans to get further practice with important listening and speaking skills.  Scholars who are not presenting evaluate each presentation on the following criteria: professional body language (eye contact, posture, etc.), on topic, and participation (each group member participates equally).  

I also complete an evaluation for each group and each individual.  Here is the presentation first group and the presentation second group.  

Independent Practice

45 minutes

During this time scholars rotate through 2 stations.  I start the time by reviewing our checklist items for the week and explicitly state what should be completed by the end of the day.  This holds scholars accountable to their work thereby making  them more productive.  Then, the ELL teacher and I share the materials that our groups will need to be successful (i.e. a pencil and your book baggies).  Then, I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation.  The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS.

During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective today is to determine relationships between two or more concepts, ideas or people in books that are on each group's highest instructional level (this is review/reteaching from the test yesterday).  Scholars read a portion of the same book (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group).  Then, we discuss how two or more ideas, concepts or people are related.  We practice using the T-chart to organize our thinking.  

After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention.  Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening.  Then they point to where they go next.  I give them 20 seconds to get there.  Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition.  We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room.  This way we avoid any collisions.    

At the end of our rotation time I give scholars 20 seconds to get back to their desks and take out materials needed for the closing part of our lesson.  Timing transitions helps to make us more productive and communicates the importance of our learning time.