Teach your students about Christopher Columbus and his historic journey with these articles, quizzes, printables, research ideas, and more.
- Understand point of view, as literary device and as personal perspective
- Interpret information and make inferences using evidence from text
- Understand the Taíno perspective on Columbus’s arrival in the Americas
- Encounter by Jane Yolen
- Point of View Comparison Chart printable
- Journals or lined paper for student writing
- Chart paper or whiteboard and markers
- Pre-read Encounter by Jane Yolen.
- Make copies of the Point of View Comparison Chart printable.
Step 1: Ask the class to recall the first day of school this year and write a quick summary about it. They should recall how they felt, the best part of the day, what they did, etc.
After a few students describe their first days, ask the class if everyone told the story of the first day of school the same way. Did they remember each event in the same way? Did they feel the same? What did they choose to describe in their summaries? Were those events therefore important or unimportant to each student?
Tell the class that the summaries were different because each student has a different point of view. Tell your students that today they will learn about perspective.
Step 2: Tell the class: We will learn about different perspectives on Christopher Columbus coming to the New World. Review prior knowledge about Columbus. Ask the students: Who was Christopher Columbus? Why is he famous? Why did he go to the New World? What was he looking for? Discuss the responses with the class. Make a main idea web to gather the students’ thoughts.
Note: Make sure to tell the students that there were already people living on the island where Columbus landed. These people were called the Taíno people.
Step 3: Tell your students you will be reading a book about Columbus’s first landfall in the New World, and that this book is from the perspective of a Taíno boy. Discuss what his point of view might be. Ask the students to imagine they are members of the Taíno people. Have the class or each student make a prediction about what the boy might think and how he might feel.
Step 4: Read Encounter by Jane Yolen, including the author’s note. Stop and check for understanding during the story.
Step 5: Students will again imagine they were members of the Taíno people when Columbus landed on their island. Students will write a journal entry from that point of view. Share responses.
Step 6: Discuss again how the point of view changes depending on who is telling the story. How do you think the European explorers felt? Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast.
Step 7: Students will fill in the Point of View Comparison Chart printable. Students will state three examples of what a Taíno person might have been thinking and three examples of what a European explorer might have been thinking. They must support their answers with textual evidence. The answers should follow the format: “They might have thought ________ because _____.”
Ask your students to consider the gifts exchanged between the Europeans and the Taíno. What did the Europeans give the Taíno as gifts? What did the Taíno give to the Europeans? Was it a fair trade? How does something gain value? Have students find items to trade with classmates and justify why it is a fair trade.
- Were students’ journal reflections written from the correct point of view? Did students use details or examples from the book?
- Were students able to make reasonable inferences about what a Taíno might think and what a European might think? Did students justify their answers?
Lesson plan written by Sarah Denton. Sarah Denton taught PreK and first grade. She was ESL-certified and the PreK-2 member of her school's Instructional Leadership Team.