Thursday, February 14, 2008

Strategies for The Cay

Strategies using graphic organizers in the classroom.

The following strategies below are for the novel, “The Cay.” This is a 7th grade level novel. I have been teaching the novel, but after looking at some of the resources for strategies, I thought I would create some new activities for the students.

Summary of the novel
In the early years of World War II, eleven-year-old Phillip Enright lives with his mother and father on the island of Curacao, off the coast of Venezuela. When a neighboring island is attacked by German submarines, Phillip's mother, unable to cope with the surrounding dangers, arranges to travel back with her son to her home in Virginia. On their journey, a German U-boat torpedoes the freighter. Phillip is separated from his mother and thrown overboard; as he falls, he sustains a devastating blow to the head. When he wakes, he finds himself on a wooden raft with a West Indian man named Timothy, and a stowaway cat. Phillip's mother always told him that black people were "different." Phillip finds Timothy to be stubborn and feels very superior to him because Timothy lacks a formal education. While they are on the raft, looking for land, Phillip's head injury renders him blind. Although he dislikes Timothy, Phillip is forced to rely on him for survival when they land on an island called The Cay. When a violent hurricane hits the island, Timothy saves the young boy from death. Because Timothy is quite old and has exhausted his strength, he does not survive the raging tempest. Phillip knows he has survived because of Timothy's guidance and, vowing to live on, he buries his friend with a heavy heart. Phillip is soon rescued by an American destroyer, and after three operations on his eyes, regains his sight. However, the four months on the island have changed his life forever. Phillip hopes someday to return to the "outrageous cay" where Timothy taught him that nothing is gained from prejudice and true knowledge is based on love.

Strategy 1 (Before reading)

Prereading activities are important ways to captivate and interest the students in a story prior to reading. I teach the novel “The Cay.” One new addition is an anticipation guide. The main character, Phillip, transitions through self-discovery, and into a new boy at the end of the story. The novel is relatable to 7th grades because of the age of the character. The anticipation guide allows for the students begin to think about how they feel before reading the novel, and can be used at the end of the novel as a follow-up. Did the students still react the same?
Somewhat Agree
Strongly Agree
1. I could survive without my parents.

2. When faced with difficult situations, it is easier to give up.

3. It is okay to judge a person by there skin color.

4. You are only educated if you attend school.

5. My parents are always right.

Strategy 2- Inferences in text (During or after reading)

Inferences can be difficult for students to extract from text. Many times, we have to help them translate quotes or see the bigger picture. In the novel “The Cay,” there are many instances where the student must make inferences about the lead characters Phillip and Timothy to understand some of the core themes in the novel. The inference chart located on Jim Burke’s site allows you to download the file.
This graphic organizer could be used the following difference ways.
The teacher could give the students specific quotes about each character and have them make inferences about the characters through the quotes.
The teacher could provide the students with the inferences, and have them find the quotes in the novel for each character.
Another option is to give the students a mix and match version where they are given some quotes and must make inferences based on the quotes, and they are also given inferences and must find the quotes that demonstrate these inferences.

Strategy 3
Using the Visual Process to interpret Inferences.

Using the inferences in the above strategy, now the students will create a visual representation of each inference. Using newspapers and magazines, the students create a collage representing each

Visualizing text is a crucial skill for students because if they can get the picture, often they’ve got the concept. When students don’t get those pictures in their heads, the teacher may need to think aloud and talk them through the ideas in the text, explaining the pictures that come to mind. Visualization can help students to focus, remember, and apply their learning in new and creative situations. It is an invaluable skill in subjects such as Math, Science and Design & Technology, where understanding spatial relationships can be a key to solving complex problems. (15)

Strategy 4- RAFTS (During and after reading)

Many times students find it difficult to write from different perspectives. They use their own perspectives rather than trying to take on the persona or identity to enhance their writing and creativity. RAFTS really allow and force students to leave their safe zone, and write for a different purpose.
In the novel ,Timothy is trying convince Phillip to climb the coconut tree, so they have food. Because Phillip is blind he believes he cannot accomplish this task, and is of no help to Timothy. Through the course of the novel, Phillip eventually does muster the confidence to climb the tree. Here is a writing assignment for the students to complete.

RAFTS assignment
Timothy has been attempting the convince Phillip to climb the Coconut tree. Imagine that you are Timothy preparing a speech to convince Phillip to climb the coconut tree. What would you say to make Phillip rethink his decision about climbing the Coconut tree?

Resources used for strategies.

Strategy 1 and 3

Anticipation Guide and RAFTS
Another source
A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction Grades 4-6 (look for Literacy/Guides to Instruction/Volume 1)
Strategy 2
Inference Chart
Strategy 4
Strategy was from Think Literacy: Cross Curricular Approach 7-12 page 15

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