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Including Teaching Tips for All Grades.

Will Titanic, the movie, be this holiday season's blockbuster? Will its producers be swimming in profits by Christmas? Or will the movie get lost in a sea of holiday releases and sink big-time to the bottom of the box office? Whatever the case, now's a great time to teach about the Titanic!

Eighty-five years ago this month, the huge ocean luxury liner Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean....and, this year, the hype will be starting as the Christmas release date nears for Titanic.

Talk about a teachable moment!

This is the perfect time to capitalize on all the buzz and to give a real purpose to your students' Internet surfing! Few topics have as many interesting related Web sites as the Titanic does. No matter what age students you teach, you'll find an ocean of sites to excite them.

Why study the Titanic? Nic Wilson, a longtime Titanic buff who has created one of the most comprehensive Titanic Web sites (see below), says "The Titanic disaster is a veritable time-capsule of information about the way people lived in 1912." Wilson points to the way people on the Titanic lived--in first class, second class, and steerage--as a reflection of society at that time.

"My interest in the Titanic was sparked in my childhood when a teacher mentioned the ship," Wilson adds. "She was very emotional about it in a school assembly. She pointed out that the number of people in that crowded auditorium was only a third of the number that perished on the Titanic."

The Titanic is the subject of a new museum exhibit too. The exhibit---produced by WONDERS of Memphis, Tennessee---opened in Memphis earlier this month. Exhibit visitors can see about 300 items from the doomed ocean liner, including a life jacket and the luggage of some of its passengers. "A special Web site (see below) and a teacher's guide have been produced for teachers to use as they prepare their students for a field trip to this historic exhibit," says Tracy Paden, exhibit publicist.

So, pack up your students and take them to Memphis! Or--if that isn't in your plans--do the next best thing. Let them explore the Titanic on the Internet. Following are a few tips for smooth sailing through the sea of Titanic sites.

Related ResourcesLiterature Connections

For Young Readers:

  • Polar: The Titanic Bear, by Daisy Corning Spedden (Little, Brown Co.), a charming story of the Titanic disaster told through the eyes of a boy's teddy bear.

For Older Readers:

  • SOS Titanic, by Eve Bunting (Harcourt Brace), will help give middle-grade and young-adult readers a real sense for the strict class distinctions on board the Titanic.

Related Sites

Before you start. Pose a handful of questions for students to answer before they begin their search. Guesses are encouraged! Then let them go. Watch a tidal wave of excitement build as they verify or correct their answers to those questions. (Just for you, the correct answers are included below in parentheses.)

  1. How many passengers were on board the Titanic when it sank? (about 2,500)
  2. In which ocean did the Titanic sink? (the Atlantic Ocean)
  3. How many pounds of meat were loaded on board the Titanic for its famous voyage? (75,000 pounds)
  4. How far beneath the sea was the wreck ot the Titanic found in 1984? (2-1/2 to 3 miles)
  5. Who was Colonel John Jacob Astor--and how is he connected to the Titanic? (He was the richest man in the United States at the time; he drowned when the Titanic sank.)

Sites to surf. Following are a few Web sites for younger students.

For Older Students

Before you start. A huge debate surrounds the raising of the wreck of the Titanic. "Taking things from the ship is like robbing a grave," some experts say. "The Titanic should be left alone out of respect for those who died," they add. Others disagree. "This is history, and people should be able to see it," they say. "We need to save what we can before it's gone forever." Invite students to use the information they find as they search the Web to formulate their opinions about the Should the Titanic be raised? debate.

Sites to surf. Following are a few Web sites for older students.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1997 Education World

 

06/06/1997