Island of the Blue Dolphins: Building Vocabulary (In Context!)

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SWBAT determine the meaning of key words based on clues in the text, "Island of the Blue Dolphins".

Big Idea

Let's define some vocabulary!

Cue Set

8 minutes

On our last summative assessment, I noticed that scholars were struggling a bit with using the context to determine the meaning of important words within a text.  Therefore, I designed this lesson to target that skill.  Also, since it is day 3 of a new novel, it is an important time to build key vocabulary that will enable scholars to access the text.  

To begin our lesson, we do a quick multiple choice practice where scholars answer the Cue Set questions.  Scholars answer the two questions below: 

Based on the passage below, kelp most likely means: "The wide beds of kelp which surround our island on three sides come close to the shore and spread out to sea for a distance of a league.  In these deep beds, even on days of heavy winds, the Aleuts hunted." (p 15) 

 a. A soft, feather bed where animals can sleep on the sand 

b. Large, brown seaweed, found in the water

c. Part of a choral reef 

d. Rocks where fish like to hide 

 Based on the passage below, cliff most likely means: 

"Many of our tribe went to the cliff each night to count the number killed during the day.  They counted the dead otter...." (p.16) 

 a. A place to hunt otterc.

b. A steep rock face 

c. A large boat, big enough for many peopled. 

d. A hook in the ocean

Use this document (Cue Set questions) for individual print-outs of the questions (if needed).  

Then, scholars have 30 seconds to share their answers and their logic with their table group.  Finally, we share out.  If scholars need more support, I will model how to eliminate the obviously wrong answers and select the correct answer.  Again, the reason why I do this is so that scholars have some explicit test-taking practice.  





Teaching Strategy

15 minutes

During the teaching strategy today, we begin by creating a Foldable for 8 key vocabulary words (cove, mesa, cormorant, kelp, cliff, sea otter, pelt and spear).  These are words that are reoccurring throughout the book and scholars need a working definition to envision the setting.  We do a cloze reading of chapter 2 of the book and I model how to think aloud to complete the first part of the foldable for the word cove.  When we do cloze readings, I read the text aloud and all scholars have a copy of the same text.  I pause upon some words and phrases to make sure that scholars are following along with me.  It helps to engage all scholars and it helps me to hold all scholars accountable for following along with me.  Also, it ensures that scholars who are at a lower reading level than grade level can access the text.  

When I pause to think about word meaning I might say something like, "Hmm, when I read the text, a cove seems to be something that is carved out of the stone, but filled with water, the evidence from the text that proves this is...."  Then, I show how to draw a picture, write the definition and record the quote that supports the definition.  

As I think aloud, scholars work alongside me and write the first definition/picture and quote in their foldable.  This way, they are accountable to actively listening while I model and they also have an example of what I expect as they move into guided and independent practice.  

Guided Practice

22 minutes

In heterogenious partnerships, scholars finish reading chapters 2 & 3.  The reason for partnerships is so that scholars can practice with an extra layer of support.  I pair high scholars with medium high and medium low with low scholars.  I do this so that scholars do not become frustrated.  Also, my ELL co-teacher or I (depending on who is in the room) will pull a small group of the lowest scholars who need the most support.  

As scholars read, they complete their foldables with the definitions of the key vocabulary words.  Whatever they do not finish will be completed during the independent rotations. Here are some examples of Partner ReadingMore Partner Reading and Partner Reading Continued.   

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 use context to define important vocabulary.  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 to use context to define important vocabulary.  Scholars use their foldables to help them out.  My highest groups continue with their text talk groups. 

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.