Author’s Point of View and Idea Development in World without Fish | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M3B:U1

Author’s Point of View and Idea Development in World without Fish

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In this unit, students are involved in a study of how an author introduces, illustrates, and elaborates on an idea and how an author conveys his or her point of view. Students will begin reading Mark Kurlansky's World without Fish, a literary nonfiction text about the causes of and solutions to the problem of fish depletion. The focus of Unit 1 is the first half of the book, in which Mark Kurlansky describes the problem. Students will return to the final chapters of the book and his suggested solutions in Unit 3.

In the first half of the unit, the focus is on tracing the idea of fish depletion across the first five chapters of the book: how the idea is introduced at the beginning and how it is illustrated and elaborated on throughout the first half of the book. Through close reading of this text, students will learn multiple strategies for acquiring and using academic vocabulary. In the second half of the unit, students analyze Mark Kurlansky's point of view in excerpts of the text and how he conveys that point of view. At the end of Unit 1, students are assessed on their analysis of the point of view and how it is conveyed in a new excerpt of the text.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How does an author convey his or her point of view?
  • How does an author introduce, illustrate, and elaborate on an idea?
  • All life on earth is interconnected, and altered circumstances will change the order of life at sea--which will also change life on land.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read a literary nonfiction text about the causes of and solutions to the issue of fish depletion in the oceans. However, the module intentionally incorporates Science and 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


Key Idea 3: Individual Organisms and Species Change Over Time

  • 3.1b Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms with a particular trait. Small differences between parents and offspring can accumulate in successive generations so that descendants are very different from their ancestors. Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely to survive and have offspring than individuals without those traits.
  • 3.1c Human activities such as selective breeding and advances in genetic engineering may affect the variations of species.
  • 3.2a In all environments, organisms with similar needs may compete with one another for resources.
  • 3.2b Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to permit its survival. Extinction of species is common. Fossils are evidence that a great variety of species existed in the past.

Key Idea 7: Human Decisions and Activities have had a Profound Impact on the Physical and Living Environment

  • 7.2a In ecosystems, balance is the result of interactions between community members and their environment.
  • 7.2b The environment may be altered through the activities of organisms. Alterations are sometimes abrupt. Some species may replace others over time, resulting in long-term gradual changes (ecological succession).
  • 7.2c Overpopulation by any species impacts the environment due to the increased use of resources. Human activities can bring about environmental degradation through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, waste disposal, etc.
  • 7.2d Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have resulted in major pollution of air, water, and soil. Pollution has cumulative ecological effects such as acid rain, global warming, or ozone depletion. The survival of living things on our planet depends on the conservation and protection of Earths resources.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

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
World Without Fish
by Mark Kurlansky
ISBN: 978-0761185000, 761185003

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Invite fishermen to speak to students about the methods they use for catching fish and the rules and regulations they have to follow.
  • Invite a scientist to speak to students about biodiversity and fish depletion.


  • Arrange for a visit to a local aquarium so students can learn more about biodiversity in the oceans.
  • Arrange for a visit to a museum or exhibit about the Industrial Revolution.
  • Arrange for a visit to a grocery store so students can see the fish available to buy.

Optional: Extensions

  • An in-depth case study of depleted fish species and the impact of the depletion on humans and other species.
  • A study of extinct species.
  • A study of the depletion of a particular extinct species and the circumstances that led to its extinction, for example the Baiji white dolphin or the Javan tiger.

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