Welcome to Titanic Week! This is a set of lessons that I've written to go along with a unit my district is implementing all about the ocean. We are using texts about the Titanic this week, to practice identifying main ideas and supporting details. Daily, I'm also reading aloud a fiction story to help balance the 50/50 ratio of informational text to fiction text.
These lessons were designed to be implemented over a five day, or one week period. However, we had a field trip and October holiday this week, so I had to integrate lessons within other parts of my day. I wanted to let you know this, so you could pace these three lessons out over five days, if you choose. I hope you, and your crew, enjoy the historical voyage of the Titanic!
Please watch this short video about my lesson.
To kick off our Titanic week, I greet my students at the door with boarding passes I've made representing real passengers of the RMS Titanic. (See Resource: Titanic Boarding Passes) I put the boarding passes on off-white parchment paper to give them a historic look. Getting my students excited about their journey this week is part of the success of our learning! They'll also be reading about some of these historical figures in the Kids Discover Titanic magazine, and during our read-aloud, Polar the Titanic Bear.
All throughout the week, our principal, Mrs. Gravel is narrating our journey. She comes on the overhead after announcements and updates us with our location and facts about the historic voyage of the RMS Titanic. These facts will tie into our lessons on main idea and supporting details. (See Resource: Titanic Narrator Script) Here is what principal Gravel had to say to us today, as we departed Southampton, UK:
Bon voyage! Today is April 11, 1912. The time is now 1:30 p.m. I wish you all a safe journey on the RMS Titanic of the White Star Ocean Liner Company. I hope you all have all of your “traveling papers” with your name, class, and boarding pass. I wish you a great trip whether you are a wealthy first class passenger traveling for pleasure, paying $4,300 for your ticket. Maybe you’re an immigrant from Great Britain, Ireland, or Scandinavia hoping to seek a better life in America, traveling third class, paying $36 for your ticket. More of you are probably traveling to America to be reunited with your family. A special shout out to the 885 crewmembers of the beautiful RMS Titanic. Wishing a great voyage to all 2,224 of you! I hope you packed your long underwear and parkas! I’ve heard the North Atlantic Ocean can be a very chilly place. Bon voyage, and safe travels!
I begin my lesson on main idea and supporting details by letting my crew explore the informational Kids Discover Titanic Magazine. I give them a few minutes to browse and talk with their table groups about the things they see, things they already know, and things they're wondering about. I call this an "I see, I know, I wonder". Giving the class these few minutes to dig in and share will allow them to be more focused when we start our lesson.
I chose this particular piece of text because it is laid out nicely to support the learning of main idea and supporting details. The heading of each set of pages contains the main idea, and supporting details are found within the text and text features. It is also a good match for my readers and meets the upper end of the Lexile band for Common Core in third grade. The students have really enjoyed reading a Kids Discover magazine with each of our English-Language Arts units, so I know this one about the Titanic will be a hit!
We begin by talking about the text features the crew sees on the first two pages. Our class had previously learned about nonfiction text features, and this is a good review. I pay special attention to the heading that belongs to the first two pages, "Iceberg! Right Ahead!". We have a good conversation about why the author of the magazine would want to start with the tragedy on the first page. I love teachable moments!
We read pages 2 - 3 together. When we finish, I ask the students what these two pages were all about. They quickly recognize that all of the information on these two pages is about the Titanic striking the iceberg and sinking. I ask them what details they learned about the Titanic striking the iceberg and sinking. They easily identify many supporting details.
I introduce the students to our Main Idea and Supporting Details anchor chart. (See Resource File: Main Idea Titanic Anchor Chart) We read through the chart together, and this will become our "anchor" for the week.
My paper passers pass out the graphic organizer for identifying the main idea and supporting details of the Titanic magazine. (See Resource File: Kids Discover Magazine Titanic Main Idea and Supporting Details) I have my crew fill in the main idea and three supporting details. We were able to identify many supporting details, so we decide on the most relevant three to add to our graphic organizer. This is a good discussion and gets the students defending their ideas and why they think one supporting detail is more important than another.
Our lesson concludes by reviewing what we've learned about main idea and supporting details. I teach the students a motion to remember the parts. We hold our hands over our head like a large cloud,and say "Main Idea". Then, we sprinkle down three supporting details, like rain. I know that some of my students learn well kinesthetically, so they will remember and apply the skill of main idea and supporting detail this way. However, others who are more visual learners will attach more meaning to the anchor chart. I try to include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities into every lesson.
I have chosen a fictional pair to share as a read aloud this week. This will help me balance the 50/50 ratio of informational and fiction texts with my class. We are reading about ten pages a day from the book Polar the Titanic Bear. I chose this book because it contains many factual pieces of information about the time period, as well as the Titanic tragedy. The students enjoy that it is told from the perspective of the boy's stuffed bear, Polar. Also, one of our Titanic passengers this week is Douglas Spedden, the subject of the story.
As I read aloud today, I've asked to students to be on the look out for text-to-text connections they are making with the Titanic magazine, and Polar the Titanic Bear. (See Resource File: Connections Poster)
*If you like the Connections and Main Idea/Supporting Details Posters used in this lesson, you can find the set of posters I created for my classroom by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom of the lesson.