Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Ghalas-at and Aleuts - Examining Perspective in Island of the Blue Dolphins

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SWBAT analyze how the details of an event are influenced by the perspective from which the event is told.

Big Idea

Two people experience the same thing, but describe it differently. Why?

Cue Set

20 minutes

As we continue with the novel, "Island of the Blue Dolphins" I want students think carefully about point of view and perspective.  So, scholars begin this lesson by analyzing two paintings that portray "The Landfall of Jean Nicolet."  (Jean Nicolet was a French explorer who arrived at present day Greenbay, Wisconsin.)  Check out both paintings in the Screen shot of the Smart Board.  In one painting,  the Europeans are portrayed as being almost savior-like, with arms raised like a cross.  The weather is fair and the Native Americans are intrigued and welcoming.  In the second portrait, Jean Nicolet has his arms raised like a cross, but has two guns firing from each hand.  The Native Americans are running away from him and it seems as if they are begging him to stop.  Each painting is clearly painted to represent differing perspective of "The Landfall of Jean Nicolet."  

Scholars have 3 minutes to independently compare the two portraits.  Based on evidence from the portrait, they must hypothesize from whose perspective each painting is told.  Here is some student work from the Cue Set.  Scholars must also explain how the event is influenced based on whose perspective is portrayed.  Then, they have 2 minutes to discuss in table groups.  Here are scholars analyzing the paintings.  

Finally, we discuss as a whole-group.  I built extra time here so that we can really delve deeply into some of the imagery and symbolism that the artists portray.  Analyzing visual elements is an important shift in the Common Core Standards and I want to take some time here to develop that skill.   

Teaching Strategy

15 minutes

During the teaching strategy, we do a cloze reading of chapter 4 of the text, Island of the Blue Dolphins.  When we do cloze readings, I read aloud to the class and each student has their own copy of the book.  I pause over words and phrases and scholars read when I've paused upon a word.  This helps scholars who are below grade level to access the text, and it helps hold scholars accountable for following along.  

Then, I think aloud about from whose perspective the event is told.  Next, I model using a Graphic organizer to record the following: 

1. Who is the narrator & how does the narrator describe the event? 

2. What is the narrator most trying to communicate to the reader? 

3. How does the narrator's perspective influence the way in which the event is told?  

As I record my thinking, I do several check for understandings to ensure that scholars are following along with me.  I might mis-think aloud to see if they can catch my error.  Also, I might ask them to turn and explain what I am doing to the person sitting next to them.  Finally, before we move to guided practice, I ask scholars to give a thumbs up, thumbs to the side or thumbs down depending on how they are feeling with the skill.  I immediately follow-up with scholars whose thumbs are down or to the side that way they can have support at the beginning of guided practice and do not practice incorrectly.  

Here's an example of a scholar who is explaining how Captain Orlov would describe "how the trouble began."  

Guided Practice

10 minutes

During guided practice today, scholars engage in partner reading.  In the next 10 minutes, scholars are responsible for reading chapter 5.  They complete their graphic organizer on perspective for this chapter.  They are split into teacher-chosen heterogeneous partnerships.  I pair high scholars with medium-high scholars, low scholars with medium-low scholars so that scholars do not become frustrated.  My ELL scholars and scholars who require accommodations are pulled to the horseshoe table to work with my ELL co-teacher.  Here is the Smart Board for this portion of the lesson. 

Scholars have 20 seconds to move to a quiet and comfy place in the room and begin their work.  As scholars work in partnerships, I circulate and interview scholars, giving on-the-spot feedback and offering support as-needed.  

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 analyze how a narrator's perspective influences the way in which events are described.  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 narrator's perspective and the way in which the events were described.  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.