Reporting the News
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
based on White Star: A Dog on the Titanic
by Marty Crisp
About the Book
"Dogs! There really are dogs on the Titanic!" Sam realized what he had heard about dogs sailing on the Titanic was true, as he watched the dogs being loaded aboard the ship. One of the dogs was an Irish Setter. The Setter reminded Sam of his deceased fathers dog, Rusty, but belonged to the very wealthy owner of the White Star fleet, Mr. J. Bruce Ismay.
Sam chose to spend much of his time on the ship helping with the dogs, walking them, cleaning their kennels and keeping them company. He came to call the Irish Setter, Star, and they became inseparable. Sam needed something to take his mind off of why he was sailing on the Titanic to America. There he would meet his mother and her new husband. Star and the other dogs provided just the distraction he needed.
When the Titanic hit the iceberg and began taking on water, Sam knew that he had to save Star from certain doom. While every woman and child was being loaded into lifeboats on the deck, Sam was going down further into the boat to save Star.
This is a story about a young boy and the dog he loves. Sam finds out in the end, that Star really loves him, too.
Set the Stage
Get the students ready to read the book by discussing the following:
- Has anyone heard of the Titanic?
- Explain (or have the students explain) about the ship so that students have background knowledge. This can be done with a KWL chart or other ways to organize information. There are pages in the back of this book that explain the journey, give a timeline of events and display maps of the decks on the ship. Also included are Fascinating Mysteries, Facts and Survivors to increase background knowledge. There is a very complete bibliography on books on the Titanic for young readers at the very end of the book.
- Talk about what the students see on the front cover. What does it look like is happening in the picture? What does the title tell you about the story? Have the students make predictions and record. Check their predictions as you read or at the end of the story.
- This book has a Prologue. Discuss what this is and read it together. Discuss why the author felt she had to write a Prologue and what if she chose not to write it, how would that change the background knowledge before it is read?
After the students finish the story, allow them to read the facts in the back of the book. Show them the bibliography. Be sure to show them how to read it and if possible have a few of the books on hand for those children who want to learn more about the Titanic.
- Explain about the social classes and how the employees on the Titanic treated them. What class of the people do you think Sam was? How can you tell?
- Sam became and Star became very good friends. How did Star save Sams life?
- What would you have done if you were in Sams shoes? Would you have passed the lifeboats and a chance to escape death to save an animal? Why or Why not?
- Sam was nervous about meeting his stepfather, Jack, in New York. What do you think their relationship will be like after Sams short time with Jack in New York? Explain your answer.
Sam had a journal given to him by his grandfather to record his adventures while he was aboard the Titanic. His grandfather wanted to see if Sam had the capabilities to become a good reporter. Later Sam had the opportunity to help Carlos Hurd collect stories of the survivors for the press.
This reproducible can be used for the students to become reporters for the World-Wide Gazette. It may be helpful if the class read a few appropriate articles from a real newspaper. Also, the class can brainstorm facts from the story and record them on chart paper or chalkboard. Start off with the question words, who, what, where, when, why, to get the facts flowing.
Use these activities to extend students enjoyment of the book:
- Get to Know Them: Allow each student to choose a famous person who sailed on the Titanic and write a report about what made that person well-known.
- Message in a Bottle: Students could write a message that they would send in a bottle if they were aboard one of the lifeboats.
- Dressed for Success?: Students could research, using the Internet or books, the way people dressed during this time period. They could either draw and color clothing or create their own using scraps of material and gluing it to poster board or similar heavy paper.
- Star Dog!: Students can work in cooperative groups to write a commercial using Star as their star for the White Star Line. Present them to the class.
- Make It Real: Students can create their own model of the Titanic or an original ship, by drawing or using materials they choose. Display them in the classroom or in the Media Center.