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Chris Corbett Reading Centres Hatchet

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Chris Corbett

Reading Centres – Hatchet
Reading centres help students examine a text by using a variety of reading and writing activities. In small groups, students participate in a wide range of activities selected by the teacher to deepen their understanding of a text by approaching it from several different ways. Students will respond to a research source, sort story events in time, write a letter, edit a paragraph, and write a double-entry journal while participating in these stations.

Grade 5

IRP connections (selected Grade 5 Language Arts PLOs)

-read fluently and demonstrate comprehension of a range of grade-appropriate literacy texts including literature from Canada and other countries, and reference material

-view and demonstrate comprehension of visual texts

-select and use strategies after reading and viewing to confirm and extend meaning, including reflecting and responding, visualizing, and using graphic organizers to record information

-use the features and conventions of language to express meaning in their writing and representing, including complete simple and compound sentences, effective paragraphing, capitalization, spelling unfamiliar words by applying strategies


This set of reading centres is designed for a group of students that has finished reading Gary Paulsen’s novel Hatchet. The students will have a journal they can write in (preferably a duotang so they can add sheets) for some of the centres.
Introduction – The teacher explains each of the stations briefly, and either lets the students choose their starting station or assigns groups. Students will have 15-30 minutes at each station. They may either move on as a group or on their own – depending on class and group dynamics.

  1. Author station – information sheet about the author. Students will write in their journals, identifying three things that they either have in common with the author or three differences (or a combination of similarities and differences). Some key words and ideas may be highlighted – students may also write a developed paragraph about one of these ideas.

  2. Sequencing station – Events in the story are cut into sections and scattered. Students must unscramble their set and write the correct order in their journals. They may use their copies of Hatchet to look up details.

  3. Message station – students may write a letter to the author if they choose, or write a postcard from Brian’s point of view either during the events of the story or after.

  4. Proofreading station – a paragraph from the book is rewritten with several mistakes. Students will identify the mistakes and correct them, then put the sheet of paper in their journal. A dictionary will be available.

  5. Writing station – students will complete a double-entry journal where they write out a quote from Hatchet (books allowed) on one side, and write about their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the quote. They may write about similar experiences, or what they might do in a similar situation.

Conclusion – Once students have had an opportunity to try all five stations (more than likely over two or three classes), they may complete a K-W-L chart or a journal summarizing what they have learned through the experience of reading Hatchet. Some students may be interested in reading Gary Paulsen’s sequels to HatchetBrian’s Winter is a ‘what-if’ story about how Brian might have spent the winter if he hadn’t been rescued. The River takes place when Brian returns to the wilderness as part of research for military training. Brian’s Return takes place a few years later when Brian decides that he feels more at home in the woods than in the city. Brian’s Hunt is a further adventure of our hero when he makes his home in the wilderness.

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