From Unit Plan: Extra! Extra! Titanic Sinks

Year after year, the Titanic component of my Disaster Unit is a student favorite. Each year, I add new resources to my disaster collection. They are not only used for lessons, but are in high demand for independent reading time as well. I use the following books for the Titanic lessons, but you can easily substitute your own titles to adapt the newspaper lessons in this unit to other disasters.

Nonfiction Classroom Books

I use the following books to teach my students about the Titanic disaster. Students also use them for reference when they write their news article and interview.

882½ Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic
by Hugh Brewster and Laurie Coulter, illustrated by Ken Marschall

Common questions are answered and unknown facts revealed in this fact-filled, stunningly illustrated volume. Includes photographs of the famous ship and salvaged artifacts, as well as detailed diagrams and paintings.

Classroom Tip: I raise students' interest by reading three to five intriguing Titanic facts a day. By the end of the week it is the most sought after book in the room. Many of my students use this resource exclusively as they create a list of "Five Fantastic Facts" for their newspapers.

Dear America: Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, R.M.S. Titanic, 1912
by Ellen Emerson White

In her 1912, 13-year-old Margaret Ann describes how she leaves her lonely life in a London orphanage to become a companion to a wealthy American woman, sails on the Titanic, and experiences its sinking.

Classroom Tip: I use this for a read aloud to help my class assimilate the point of view of a Titanic passenger from the ship's launch to its sinking. This is a very valuable resource as students themselves become passengers during the interview in Lesson Two.

Magic Tree House Research: Titanic
by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

This nonfiction companion to Mary Pope Osborne's Tonight on the Titanic offers answers to young readers' questions about one of the greatest ships (and disasters) in history. Photographs and other illustrations highlight the text.

Classroom Tip: An excellent resource for background information. I find the Magic Tree House Research Guides act as stand-alone resources as well as companion books. Students who haven't read Tonight on the Titanic are just as interested in this book as those who have.

Scholastic History Readers: Titanic
by Victoria Sherrow

The simple account describes the chronology of events and discusses the investigation that followed the disaster. The final pages discuss Robert Ballard's discovery and exploration of the wreck of the Titanic. Sidebars introduce real passengers including the captain, who went down with his ship.

Classroom Tip: This is the main book students use as a reference for writing the summary article in Lesson One. Students can find the "who, what, when, where, and why" they need for their article in an easy-to-read style.

You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Titanic!: One Voyage You'd Rather Not Make
by David Stewart, illustrated by David Antram

A wealth of historical and technical information surrounding the infamous Titanic is presented in an engaging and entertaining format.

Classroom Tip: This is another book I read and discuss in a whole group setting. The humorous style engages readers who may not realize how enjoyable nonfiction text can be.

Literature Club Resources

I use these titles for my guided reading groups and literature clubs. The varying levels are appropriate for readers of all abilities.

Finding the Titanic
by Robert D. Ballard

Written by the underwater explorer who was the first to discover the Titanic lying on the ocean floor, this book describes the discovery and exploration of its underwater wreckage.

Classroom Tip: I use this book during guided reading. This is an especially good resource to reinforce Titanic facts previously taught or discussed. Also available in Spanish.

The Magic Tree House: Tonight on the Titanic
by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca

Jack and Annie must help two children find their way to a lifeboat — all while they themselves are in danger of becoming victims of that tragic night.

Classroom Tip: This series continues to be a favorite with students year after year. I use this book with my reading groups as an example of historical fiction.

Einstein Elementary Chapter Book: Titanic Cat
by Matt Costello, Leonard Mlodinow, and Joshua Nash

Steffi, Kenny, and Jose find themselves on the Titanic just as it's about to hit an iceberg. They must solve a mathematical mystery in this adventure book in order to get back to safety.

Classroom Tip: This is a great book for boosting critical thinking skills.

S.O.S. Titanic
by Eve Bunting

This is a fictional adventure set on board the ill-fated Titanic. Many of the names are those of real people aboard the ship.

Classroom Tip: A good introduction to historical fiction for the intermediate grades.

Titanic Crossing
by Barbara Williams

Albert is sailing to America on the world's biggest boat — the Titanic. When the ship hits an iceberg, Alfred is faced with grown-up decisions of life and death.

Classroom Tip: The book works best with more mature readers in 5th grade or up.

Professional Resources

The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers: 50 Great Templates That Help Kids Get More Out of Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and More!
by Dottie Raymer and Jennifer Jacobson

Help your students soar in reading, writing, social studies, science, math, and more with this giant collection of fun, easy-to-use graphic organizers. Includes 50 classroom-tested, reproducible templates along with simple how-tos and student samples.

Classroom Tip: I can usually find a graphic organizer in this book to fit any unit or theme I'm working on. Students plan their summary article in Lesson One using the iceberg organizer I found in this resource.

40 Reproducible Forms for The Writing Traits Classroom: Checklists, Graphic Organizers, Rubrics and Scoring Sheets, and More to Boost Students' Writing Skills in All Seven Traits
by Ruth Culham and Amanda Wheeler

A collection of essential forms for assessing students, planning instruction, communicating with parents, and teaching forms of writing.

Classroom Tip: I use the reproducible forms over and over throughout the year as I teach different modes of writing along with the traits. The rubrics and checklists are an invaluable tool for teaching students how the six traits vary greatly depending upon writing style.

Getting the Most Out of Teaching With Newspapers
by Rebecca Olien

Lessons and activities help you introduce the parts of the paper, create a class newspaper, and use the paper to teach reading, writing, math, and more. Includes reproducibles to use with any newspaper along with Internet links.

Classroom Tip: Great for this unit and any current event activities you teach.

Teaching Students to Read Nonfiction: Grades 2-4: 20 Easy Lessons With Color Transparencies, High-Interest Passages, and Practice Pages
by Wiley Blevins and Alice Boynton

Colorful transparencies present maps, graphs, diagrams, time lines and other nonfiction text features. High-interest passages give examples of description, time order, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution — the five main ways nonfiction texts are organized.

Classroom Tip: Use this resource to reinforce student's use of strategies when approaching nonfiction material in the classroom and beyond.

Teaching Students to Read Nonfiction: 15 Easy Lessons With Color Transparencies, High-Interest Passages, and Practice Pages
by Wiley Blevins and Alice Boynton

Help students tackle the textbook with 15 lessons that introduce key nonfiction elements. Colorful transparencies present maps, graphs, diagrams, time lines and other nonfiction text features.

Classroom Tip: I use this resource whenever I begin a nonfiction unit. It's also the perfect way to help your students read the expository material they face every day.