ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.
Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.
Teacher Resources by Grade
|1st - 2nd||3rd - 4th|
|5th - 6th||7th - 8th|
|9th - 10th||11th - 12th|
A “Cay”ribbean Island Study
|Grades||4 – 7|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Five 50-minute lessons|
- gain a "visual picture" of the Caribbean islands to help them understand the setting of The Cay.
- select a Caribbean island to research based on interest.
- work in cooperative groups toward a common goal.
- research information in books and on the Internet.
- take notes on research topics.
- develop a final product in the format of their choice.
- prepare and deliver oral presentations to teach others about their island.
- Have a brief class discussion/book talk about The Cay, which students will be reading after this pre-reading activity. Specifically, discuss the setting of the novel and inform students that they will use this lesson as a way to visualize the setting of the novel and activate their prior knowledge.
- Brainstorm the word “island” and discuss the islands that are covered in The Cay (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Virgin Islands, etc.). Ask students to visualize what an island looks like, smells like, sounds like, etc. Write students’ responses on chart paper or a white board as they discuss their prior knowledge.
- Show a Map of the Islands of the Caribbean for the class to see, using a projector. Discuss where the islands are in relation to your current location, as well as their location and relationship to each other.
- Give each student a K-W-L Chart and project a larger one for the entire class to see. Use the K-W-L Chart to discuss things the students know and want to know about the Caribbean Islands. More specific information will be forthcoming through their island study and eventually, the novel. As students discuss their prior knowledge, include the information below on the K-W-L Chart while brainstorming:
- People and Language
- Animal Life
- Industry and Tourism
- Tell students that they will activate and use their prior knowledge about islands to focus on information they still want to explore, as a means of creating a visual image for the setting of The Cay.
- Return to the class K-W-L Chart. Discuss the things that students already know about the Caribbean islands already and the things that they still want to explore. Remind them that the more they know about the islands, the better their visual image will be of the setting of the novel.
- Explain the research project to the class and what it entails. Students will be doing a group research project and presentation on a Caribbean Island of their choosing. They will have specific information that they will need to research for each island (see the Island Study Research Notes). They will then create an end product their group’s choice, and present it to the class.
- Introduce the Island Study Research Notes, which includes all of the requirements that must be included in the final product, and give each student a copy. Show students examples of what their final product may look like (or discuss with students if you do not have examples from previous island studies available). They will need to choose from the following products to create:
- Give each student a copy of the rubric and discuss each category as a class. Make sure students clearly understand the requirements of their research, group work, final project, and presentation. Allow students to ask questions about the rubric and how to achieve top scores in each category.
- Assign groups for the Island Study (approximately 3-4 students). Remember to be sensitive to learners' needs (reading skills, language skills, etc.) when creating groups.
- Once students have joined their group, allow them approximately 5 minutes to discuss which Caribbean island (included in the map previously shown to the class) their group would like to research. Each group will be required to study a different island. List each island name and group name on the white board or chart paper for the class to see.
- Within their groups, have students decide who will be responsible for each section of the Island Study Research Notes requirements. The number of things each student is responsible for will vary based on group size and ability level.
- Explain to students that they will be researching their assigned area(s) in the library/computer lab (or, if those are not available, you may choose to bring a collection of resources to your classroom for students to use for research).
- Take students to their research location (library or computer lab), or point out the collection of resources in the classroom. Using their Island Study Research Notes, instruct students to begin research their decided upon area(s) of study.
- Allow students the entire session for research. They may discuss their research with the group if questions/ideas arise.
- As student groups work on gathering information for their topic, circulate among them and act as a resource as needed:
- Meet with each group in rotation to help members identify important information, define terms, and keep their information organized.
- Ask questions about information that has been recorded and/or group needs.
- Answer questions.
- Make suggestions for research materials (books, Websites, textbook pages, photographs, and other materials related to each group’s topic).
- Provide assistance for students as needed.
- Help students do Website searches and print out information and photographs.
- Encourage students to keep their information organized.
- Have students continue their research using their individual Island Study Research Notes. They may discuss their research with the group if questions/ideas arise.
- Once the group members have completed their assigned areas of research, give each group a new copy of the Island Study Research Notes. Each group should compile all of the group members’ research on the new “official” group research document. You may wish to make copies of this “official" document for each group member so that they each have their own set of facts/information. Students will use their master Island Study Research Notes to create their final project.
- Remind students of their choices for their final Island Study product, and show examples if they are available: Brochure, Poster, PowerPoint Presentation, Flip Book, Newspaper, or Essay. Allow each group approximately 3-5 minutes to decide which product they would like to create.
- Allow groups to begin work on their final project, using the rubric and Island Study Research Notes as a guide to make sure they are including everything that is required. Depending on their choice for the final product, students may need computer access, either in the classroom, library, or computer lab. Students can use any applicable online tools to aid them in creating their project.
- Give students the rest of the session to work collaboratively on their project.
- Groups should continue work on their final product, making sure to refer back to their rubric and Island Study Research Notes often to make sure that all requirements are included.
- Once groups have completed their product and are satisfied, they may begin discussing who will present each part of the product to the class. Groups should include highlights of the information they found while researching their island, why they picked their specific final product, and an explanation of the final product itself in their class presentation. Allow time for groups to practice their oral presentation.
- Remind students to bring any notes, as well as their final product, to the next session for their group presentations.
- Group by group, invite students to share their information with the class on the island they have chosen.
- Make sure that the students display any visuals/final products that accompany their research.
- Remind students to be good listeners and ask questions of the groups presenting as they arise.
- Use the rubric to grade each group’s presentation as they present. You may choose to grade the “Research,” “Group Work,” and “Final Project” sections of the rubric either before or after the group presentations.
- After reading the novel, show the film version of The Cay to the students. Have them compare and contrast the movie to the book or to the research that they completed about the Caribbean islands.
- Have students contrast the Caribbean islands as a vacation spot vs. the factual, historical information they gathered doing their research. They can use the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the differences.
- Students may write a literary analysis of The Cay.
- Students may want to outline the plot from The Cay and then use the structure to rewrite the story set in the present day, including the differences in the islands in today’s world. This option also allows students to incorporate the nonfiction research and resources as needed. Students can use the Plot Diagram Tool as a prewriting guide.
- Compare historical information in The Cay to information discovered while conducting research. Students can present this information by using a Venn Diagram or they can write a report documenting the similarities and differences.
- Using the information from their research, students can write a travel brochure for someone visiting one of the areas discussed in the novel. The information can be published using the Printing Press as brochure on the topic.
- Create a timeline of this time in history or Timothy and Phillip’s travels using the Timeline Tool.
- Observe participation during students’ exploration and discussion of the islands they are studying, as well as while students use reference materials as a part of their research.
- Monitor students’ progress and process as they conduct their research about the different islands.
- As students present their final product to the class, take notes and assess their work using the group project rubric.
- Upon finishing The Cay, have students write a short paragraph about how their prior knowledge helped them to visualize the setting of the novel and better understand the characters’ journeys.