I start with another question as begin this lesson "Have you ever been on a boat?" I then ask "What happens on the boat when it is windy or cold?" Students typical share that it gets unstable, and very cold and not too much fun.
I then tell them - that's what happened to the people who were rescued from the Titanic ship. It was a very, very cold night, in fact the water was 4 degrees below freezing. It was dark and stormy and there were only a few lanterns which shone a little light to tell people where to go. They had to climb down the side of a large ship into a small boat on the stormy waters. I love to turn out the lights and have students imagine how fearful the darkness felt as I tell them these facts to build the mood for the next story.
I introduce the objective - today we are going to read a first hand account of what happened on the night the Titanic sank from a woman, named Elizabeth Shutes, who survived it and had to ride in one of those very small life boats. We will chart the story elements to build an understanding the who, what, where and when of what is happening in the story. (I show them the picture because I want to make her more real while they are reading about her. This text supports students to understand story elements because it is so engaging.)
Students pass out the reading passage and the Similarities and Differences Comparison Charts and I post the larger chart on the board.
(We worked on the first passage on the Wreck of the Titanic in the previous lesson which was a second hand account news article. We are now reading a first hand account and then comparing and contrasting the two) I introduce the second article "End of a Splendid Journey" and read the first couple of lines.
I stop and ask students if this is a first or second hand 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 "first person" to the point of view column.
I then read a little more and repeat the word "sepulchrally" and wonder aloud, "What does sepulchrally mean?" I then read the entire sentence again "All sepulchrally still, no excitement." and state it seems like it means it was very quiet because I see it states "all still - no excitement" (always thinking of ways to build academic vocabulary and sneak in test taking context clue skills!)
Some other vocabulary words you can review are "companionway", "life - preserver", "throng", "stewards" See the previous lesson for a video on the "why" and "what" I changed to help with vocabulary development
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.
I release students to work independently or in partnered groups to identify the rest of the Similarities and Differences chart sections and then to write a short summary of the article. The summary helps students connect the similarities between the articles and have a better understanding of the comparisons to respond strongly to the focus question in the next lesson.
I circulate and watch for students who have misunderstandings of responses or incorrect responses. Students had a little difficulty in determining the lesson at the end of the story. They wanted to give quick responses such as "don't die", "be the first on the boats", etc. I monitored their respones and those who did this I asked...why? to encourage them to think more about what the moral lesson was rather than the life-saving lesson.
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
Here's an overview of a completed chart
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? Was it fair that the women and children were saved first? Why?
Here's student responses
I then ask What can we infer about Elizabeth Shutes from the way that she speaks and writes?(This question was a little difficult until I prompted it by asking about character traits and how they would describe her to a friend) I then closed by asking Why did she refer to it as the end of a splendid journey? ok. This was my favorite question because it really stumped kids because of the irony of it. They all shared that if they almost died on a ship they would not be recalling it splendid. I then shared about roller coasters and how sometimes on rides I feel like I'm going to die and just want to get off, but when I make it to the end I often want to go on it again because it was such a thrill. - This activated their knowledge in a connection way!
I have students think about why they feel she stated this but we don't answer the question because I want them to take this wondering with them into the next lesson to build their excitement for writing about it.