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Cyberlesson. Encounter by Jane Yolen. Presented by Katherine Rutkowski Recommended Grade Level: Eighth Grade . Introduction. Return Home.

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encounter by jane yolen


Encounterby Jane Yolen

Presented by Katherine Rutkowski

Recommended Grade Level: Eighth Grade


Return Home

Do you ever feel like you are alone in the world? Have you ever felt extremely comfortable in your surroundings only to wake up one day and realize that nothing you know will ever be the same again?

Today we are going to read the book Encounter by Jane Yolen. As you complete this cyberlesson, think back to the novel that you have recently read, The Light In the Forest by Conrad Richter. These two works are more alike than different. This lesson will guide you in your exploration of Westward expansion and the great effect it had on the people that were native to the Americas.


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  • Encounter by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Shannon
  • Computer with Internet access and Microsoft Office software
  • Response journal
  • Writing utensil


before reading
Before Reading

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  • Study the cover of the book Encounter and answer the following questions in your response journal…
        • Who do you think is pictured on the cover?
        • What predictions can you make for what you think this book will be about?
        • Read the featured passage of text on page 59 of Literature in the Language Classroom By Joanne Collie and Stephen Slater to learn about thought bubbles often used in children’s literature.
        • Create your own thought bubbles for the two characters pictured on the cover of Encounter in your response journal.


before reading cont
Before Reading (cont.)

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  • You are going to listen to the story Encounter, written by Jane Yolen. This is the story of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. The narrator of this story is a boy of the Taino people. The Taino people lived in the region of the Americas where Columbus and his crew landed.
  • Click on the link and scan the webpage on the Taino Indians to learn about their

background and culture,

which runs rampant

throughout the story.


during reading
During Reading

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  • Listen to the story as it is read aloud and designate each member of your group to answer an equal number of the following questions quietly in your response journal.
        • Who is pictured on the cover of the book?
        • How did the majority of the Natives feel about the first contact experience they had with the Europeans?
        • How did the Europeans feel about their first encounter with the Taino people?
        • List the positives and negatives of the “encounter” from both the Taino people and European conquistador’s points of view.
        • Throughout the story the young Taino boy has premonitions that foreshadow the “encounter” as being dangerous and costly for his people. Describe what form the premonitions appear to the boy. What are his elders’ reactions to the warnings?


after reading
After Reading

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  • Listen attentively as the “Author’s Note” is read aloud.
  • Confer with your group mates and collectively answer the following questions in your response journal.
        • Looking back on the 15th Century from a modern day perspective, who do you feel benefitted the most from the “encounter” portrayed in the book? Why?

(Please support your opinions with facts and details from the story as well as from the website on the Taino culture.)


beyond reading
Beyond Reading

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  • It is time to think about the story you have just heard and relate it to the novel, The Light In the Forest, by Conrad Richter.
        • What character in the novel, The Light In the Forest do you think the Taino boy would relate to the best? Why do you think so?
        • With the entire novel, The Light In the Forest in perspective, what do you think True Son would say or do to Christopher Columbus if he were to meet the explorer in his indefinite future? Why do you think so?


beyond reading cont
Beyond Reading (cont.)

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  • Visit the following websites to learn more about the Taino Culture.
      • Taino Museum
      • Inhabitants of the Greater Antilles
      • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
      • Taino Language


beyond reading cont11
Beyond Reading (cont.)

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  • Visit the following websites to learn more about the Lenni Lenape Culture.
      • Lenape Dress and Crafts
      • "The People"
      • Background and Culture
      • Lenape Language
  • Compare and contrast the Lenni Lenape people, who are depicted in The Light In the Forest, to the Taino people portrayed in Encounter on this Venn Diagram.

(List at least three similarities and three differences for each.)



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  • Blasini, A. (n.d.). Taino Museum. Retrieved October 20, 2008, from http://www.tainomuseum.org/index.htm
  • Collie, J., & Slater, S. (1987). Thought Bubbles. In, Literature in the language classroom: A resource book of ideas and activities (pp.59-61). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cowboy.net. (n.d.). Delaware Tribe of Indians. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from http://www.delawaretribeofindians.nsn.us
  • The Healing Center On-Line. (2002-2008). The Taino Indians: Native Americans of the Caribbean. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from http://www.healing-arts.org/spider/tainoindians.htm
  • Josephs, K. M. (2006). Indigenous languages of the Caribbean. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from http://www.cariblanguage.org/ taino.html
references cont
References (cont.)

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  • Native Languages of the Americas. (1998-2007). Native languages of the Americas: Lenape (Unami, Delaware, Lenni Lenape) Lenape language resources. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from http:// www.native-languages.org/lenape.htm#language
  • Richter, C. (1953). The light in the forest. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.
  • Rivera, M. (2008, August 14). Welcome to Puerto Rico! Taino Indians culture. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from http:// www.topuertorico.org/reference/taino.shtml
  • Smithsonian: National Museum of the American Indian. (n.d.). The new old world: Antilles. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from http:// www.nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/the_new_old_world/ newoldworld.html
references cont15
References (cont.)

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  • Standing Bear Productions. (n.d.). Lenape Dress and Crafts. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from http://www.jersey.net/~standingbear/ leniart.htm
  • Winson, T. (2002, March). Lenni Lenape. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from http://www.anthro4n6.net/lenape
  • Yolen, J. (1992). Encounter. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace & Company.



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I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to Trisha Morris and Emily DelGrego. Your support has been amazing. Thank you for always welcoming me into your classrooms and providing me with any support I may have needed while working on my Integrated Unit for The Light In the Forest. I would be honored if you would use this cyberlesson in your futures as English teachers at Bristow Middle School.

Thank You,

Kate Rutkowski

teacher page
Teacher Page

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  • This cyberlesson was designed to be part of an integrated unit on early America, which was developed around the novel, The Light In the Forest, by Conrad Richter. Although it was formulated with eighth graders in mind, this lesson can easily be implemented with ninth graders or advanced level seventh graders. It is up to the implementer's discretion whether the lesson should be taught to a heterogeneous or homogeneous group of students. Despite the fact that this lesson was designed to be implemented with an entire class, it can be used with small groupings of students as well. In order for your students to get the most out of this cyberlesson, I suggest that you spend at least two class periods teaching it.
  • I hope you and your students enjoy this cyberlesson!

Photograph of Taino Indian structure in Tives, Puerto Rico. Taken by Gricel Luna