Remembering the Sinking of the Titanic

146 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT...chart the literary elements of plot, setting, characters, point of view point and problem in "The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912"

Big Idea

Visualizing the story structure helps readers to build pictures of the story ideas.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I start by asking my students what they know about the Titanic? I have them write down facts and information on their worksheets in the "What I Know" box so that I can walk around and identify students with little prior knowledge (I increase visual and story details or send them home with a short picture book to read) I want to build students' understanding of the different perspectives given with first hand and second hand accounts of events and how the authors opinions influence their writing.

I call on students to share and we list things we know about the Titanic on the board. 

I ask Why were the people riding on this big ship? I share that they were riding on it because it was the first ocean trip for a boat this size and many wanted to be the first to travel on it.

I then introduce my objective - For the next couple of days we are going to read second and firsthand accounts of people's voyages on the Titanic to learn more about what happened on the ship as it was sinking. We will chart the story elements to build an understanding the who, what, where and when of what is happening in the stories. 

I ask - Who tells firsthand accounts of a story? when they respond I tell them that as college-ready readers we call this "first person point of view"

Who tells second hand accounts of a story? I share that When a narrator or outsider tells the story it is called a "third person point of view (I often show them that it is not myself or the person right next to me, but rather a "third" person farther away from me who is telling the story) 

Which do you think is a more accurate account of what happened? I ask this because I want to start with the focus question because after they evaluate the two articles I want them to debate which is more accurate and why?.

I give students a moment to write "What I Wonder" questions as we transition to the guided lesson.

Here's a video explaining some changes I made to this unit to address CCSS standards and vocabulary development


Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

Students pass out the reading passage and the graphic organizer chart and I post the larger chart on the board.

I introduce the first article "The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912" and read the first couple of lines. 

I stop and ask students if this is a first or secondhand account? When they respond I ask them How do you know? I want them to identify the pronouns that signal each type but want them to discover them for themselves so it is more purposeful.

I add "third person" to the point of view column. 

I then read a little more and then ask Who is the "she" they are referring to in the story? I ask this question because the narrator is talking about the ship as though it is a female and some students get confused by this.

I connect this to my naming my car "Roxy"and thinking of "her" as a living thing sometimes like when I say, "Roxy didn't sound good this morning."

I then review the vocabulary "accommodations" and "immigrants", "packed into steerage" to ensure students have a conceptual understanding of what the setting of the story is.

I ask students, How would you describe the setting at the beginning of this story? Take any responses and add them to the chart.

From their responses I can usually gauge their ability to move on independently or the need for an additional guided reading.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

I release students to work independently or in partnered groups to identify the rest of the chart sections and to complete the summary. (the summary helps my students see the similarities between the two articles and helps them gather evidence for the final analysis focus question) 

I circulate and watch for students who have misunderstandings of responses or incorrect responses. 

Those who finish early can draw the events of the story in sequencial order. Those who struggle can work with you or with a helpful partner until they complete the chart.

Closing the Loop

5 minutes

When the timer sounds and all have completed their charts, I call them back to the carpet and we share out what information they added to each section. I write these facts on the chart on the board.

I ask students how the story made them feel? I tell them that one part of the story made me upset and I read them the paragraph about the boat not carrying enough life boats.

I then ask, What would have happened differently if they had more life boats? and Was this a wise choice for the captain and boat builders to make? and finally Why do you think they made this choice?

I want them to have this emotional connection to the text events so that they have a higher connection to the first hand story in the next lesson so I again give them time to add questions to their charts.