Sustaining the Oceans | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M3B

Sustaining the Oceans

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In this module, students study how an author develops point of view and how an author's perspective, based on his or her geographic location, is evident in his or her writing. Students consider point of view as they learn about ocean conservation and the impact of human activities on life in the oceans. Through close reading, students will learn multiple strategies for acquiring and using academic vocabulary. In Unit 1, students read the first five chapters of Mark Kurlansky's World without Fish, a literary nonfiction text about fish depletion in the world's oceans. They analyze how point of view and perspective is conveyed in excerpts of the text and trace the idea of fish depletion in both the main text and the graphic novel at the end of each chapter to describe how the idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated on in the text.

In Unit 2, students read Carl Hiaasen's Flush (830L), a high-interest novel about a casino boat that is polluting the ocean and the effort of a family to stop it. As they read the novel, students also will read excerpts of an interview with Carl Hiaasen to determine how his geographic location in Florida shaped his perspective and how his perspective is evident in his novel Flush. At the end of Unit 2, having read the novel, students will write a short, on-demand response explaining how living in Florida affected Carl Hiaasen's perspective of the ocean and ocean conservation, supported by details from Flush that show evidence of Hiaasen's perspective. In Unit 3, students return to World without Fish and pursue further research about overfishing to write an informative consumer guide about buying fish to be put in a grocery store. This task addresses ELA standards W.6.2, W.6.6 (optional), W.6.7, L.6.2, L.6.2a, L.6.2b, L.6.3, L.6.3a, and L.6.3b.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • How does an author develop the narrator's point of view and perspective?
  • How does an author's geographic location affect his perspective, and how is that perspective communicated through his writing?
  • How does an author's purpose affect the narrator's point of view?
  • How do human activities affect the balance of our ecosystem?
  • Understanding diverse points of view helps us to live in an increasingly diverse society.
  • An author's culture, background, and purpose can affect the narrator's point of view.
  • Organisms and their environment have an interconnected relationship. Human choices affect this relationship.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literary and informational text about ocean conservation issues. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies practices and themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content. These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework.

Unifying Themes (pages 6-7)

  • Theme 3: Time, Continuity, and Change: History as a formal study that applies research methods. Reading, reconstructing, and interpreting events, analyzing causes and consequences of events and developments, considering competing interpretations of events.
  • Theme 4: Geography, Humans, and the Environment: Relationship between human populations and the physical world (people, places, and environments), impact of human activities on the environment, and interactions between regions, locations, places, people, and environments.

Social Studies Practices, Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 2: Identify, describe, and evaluate evidence about events from diverse sources (including written documents, works of art, photographs, charts and graphs, artifacts, oral traditions, and other primary and secondary sources)
  • Descriptor 3: Analyze evidence in terms of content, authorship, point of view, purpose, and format; identify bias; explain the role of bias and audience in presenting arguments or evidence

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
by Carl Hiaasen
One per student
ISBN: 978-0375861253, 0375861254
World Without Fish
by Mark Kurlansky
ISBN: 978-0761185000, 761185003


Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

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