Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Surviving the Hatchet

Becky Miller


The novel [Hatchet] is about survival after divorce and a plane crash. How would we survive if we had the same thing happen to us? Journals will keep track of students ideas.


The student responds to literature by explaining how the causes of events compare with those of own life.

The student uses specific information from text to support ideas about content in literary texts (for example, advancing judgments; referring to text, other works, other authors, nonprint media, and personal knowledge to support ideas).


-Gather a classroom set of novel [Hatchet].
-Composition or spiral notebooks for each student.


Read novel [Hatchet].
Make a checklist display.


1. Students read one chapter at a time of the novel [Hatchet]. Each chapter is approximately 10 to 12 pages long and there are 19 chapters plus an epilogue. If you can not obtain a classroom set, this lesson could be done as a read aloud. Two to three chapters can be read in one session.

2. After each chapter lead a class discussion of how the events in the story would affect our own lives. How would we choose to survive? Would we make the same decisions as Brian or would we do something different. If we would act differently than Brian, what would we do? Encourage students to think realistically and critically.

3. Use the discussion as a brainstorming session before writing the journal entry (see assessment).

4. Lead the students to write in their journals, their own personal thoughts of the events.

5. Share the criteria checklist before writing (display in a visible area).

6. Put students in groups of four.

7. Tell them to read their entries to each other.

8. After each entry is read, group members use the checklist (see assessment) to evaluate each other.


Students complete journal entries throughout the novel, [Hatchet], that reflect how their lives would be affected and what they would do to survive if they were in the same situation as Brian.

Use a checklist to formatively assess that the student has compared the events of Brianís ordeal to their own lives, and their ideas of survival using specific information from the novel that supports their ideas.

Checklist Criteria:
Entry shows comparison of Brian to self.
Survival techniques are clearly described.
Use of information from novel is evident.


Using journal entries, have students write their own survival novels, written in first person point-of-view.
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