Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Examining Island of the Blue Dolphins through a Literary Lens

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Examining Island of the Blue Dolphins through a Literary Lens

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Twelve 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sue Carmichael

Rochester, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students connect with Island of the Blue Dolphins by looking at the text through three literary lenses: a mirror that allows them to find themselves in the text world, a microscope through which to understand the text's literary elements, and a telescope that helps them see beyond the text. Students first reflect on the meanings of courage and adversity through journal writing and skits. They then read the novel with a focus on Karana's character, setting, and vocabulary. Next, students reflect on the story by imagining how they would have reacted in the same situations faced by Karana. After sharing journal responses, students look outwards to their community for people who have overcome adversity with courage, and brainstorm ways they could recognize these people. The lesson works well with English Language Learners (ELLs) and includes strategies for working with students at all levels of English proficiency.

back to top



Story Map: Using this online tool, students can complete and print a character map, conflict map, resolution map, or setting map after reading a story or as they plan their own piece of writing.

back to top



In many classrooms, teachers are faced with the challenges associated with teaching literature to students whose first language is not English. These English Language Learners come to us with a range of English language skills and often struggle with literature instruction. Pamela Sissi Carroll and Deborah J. Hasson state that ELL students "feel their confidence crumble when they enter language arts classrooms." Moreover, they assert that "Many ELLs will be reluctant to use personal language to discuss or write about their initial reactions to literary texts, since they may be uncomfortable with or unaccustomed to sharing personal ideas in a public forum." While ELLs with more advanced English skills are able to communicate in social situations, they often falter when they are faced with in-depth discussions of literary themes and elements.

Carroll and Hasson describe a literature-based process that takes the needs of ELLs into account by asking students to explore a text in three ways: connect with the text world as if looking into a mirror, understand the elements of literary arts by looking at the text as if through a microscope, and apply ideas from the text to broader social considerations as if looking through a telescope (p. 22). This approach, which welcomes all students into the literary community, can be modified for all levels of English proficiency while addressing students' "sociocultural needs."

Further Reading

Carroll, Pamela Sissi and Deborah J. Hasson. "Helping ELLs Look at Stories through Literary Lenses."  Voices from the Middle 11.4 (May 2004): 20-26.

back to top