Tag Archives: National Geographic

100 Years Later: Ways to Teach About the Titanic

100 Years Later: Ways to Teach About the Titanic With The Times – NYTimes.com.

100 Years Later Ways to Teach About the Titanic With The Times - NYTimes.com

So, the Titanic has sailed back onto our horizons, for at least a little while.  The link above will take you to the New York Times education page.  On it, you will find links to primary sources from the Titanic’s sinking, including articles from the paper’s archives.  There are a variety of suggestions, such as: making scrapbooks or mock Facebook pages (try MyFakeWall.com) which are neat ideas–easily incorporated into an existing history program or as a stand alone activity.  And, this brings up an important decision for history teachers wanting to do something with the Titanic.

What are you doing with the Titanic: Is it an opportunity to take advantage of history being covered in the news, or does it work well with what you are covering in your class already, or is it something that you simply feel compelled to cover, or is it a means to actually cover current events?  Another relevant question: Are you going to simply do a fact-finding project, a history project driven by a particular question, or a project that evaluates other disciplines either in an isolated way or in a multi-disciplined approach, such as science, engineering, or sea-exploration?

I always consider the anniversaries of particular events as interesting opportunities in teaching history, but they are also potentially awkward prospects that could unsettle the flow of the class if they do not fit in logically. Sometimes there is no real way to introduce these moments without a natural gap, such as in-class activities just before a major test or due date while students are working on tasks at home, or immediately after such a date when students are a bit exhausted.

Of course, if you are already discussing the era, then so much the better.  This is a great opportunity to evaluate Edwardian issues of class, the lingering perception of invincibility for imperialists and innovators of industry, the era’s perceptions of gender, an evaluation of the early 20th century’s media and connection with perceptions of disaster, or a more general consideration of communication developments in the age.

One of the resource links from the NY Times article: RMS Titanic Victims of the Titanic Disaster

If you are going to utilize the Titanic tragedy in class, do it with a purpose.  Be cognizant of the event’s social and cultural cache.  It may be the perfect moment to capture and wow students with a degree of interest that is sometimes hard to achieve in history classes.  Try assigning each student a person through the stories, wooing them into the drama of the past.  Provide them with multi-media sources to explore the moments they are reading about.

If your student, Tommy, reads about a young lady who gushed over dancing in the ballroom and seeing the view from her balcony, and then let him explore the underwater scene of the ballroom, today, there is a real opportunity to draw him into an experience he may have never had before.

If your student, Natalie, follows the excitement and worries of a family who put everything into this trip to immigrate to America and their struggles to keep the family together during the tragedy, complete with subsequent census records for the family after the survivors made it to the States, she may develop an interest in the nitty-gritty she never knew she was capable of sharing.

If your student, Devon, takes a look at one of the socialites who is in the newspapers leading up to the voyage and then considers his or her experience during the voyage and its disaster, they will get a personal “in” and learn a little bit about class status in the era.

This is a potential trigger moment, that can really open the world of the past in a way that other events often do not, especially for older students who are more likely to know something about the Titanic.

Titanic 100 Years -- National Geographic Channel

Additional resources:

The NY Times piece from above: 100 Years Later: Ways to Teach About the Titanic With The Times – NYTimes.com.

The BBC has interviews with survivors–great primary sources, but don’t forget the effect of history and time impacting the memory of those interviewed.

Teachinghistory.org provides a useful movie review of the James Cameron’s Titanic which is short enough to be used easily in conjunction with the movie (also complement the Hollywood experience with primary sources!!).

HistoryTech.wordpress.com offers some tech resources for Titanic lesson plans.

Larry Ferlazzo also has a collection of “The Best Sites for Learning About the Titanic.”

The History Channel’s website also has a series of articles, clips and interactive materials on its Titanic Topic’s page.

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My National Geographic Magazine project

In this post, I am sharing my National Geographic assignment.  This is especially useful in generating multi-disciplined assignments and projects.  I use it for home school, but it could easily be adapted to history, anthropology, English, social studies, language arts, or related subjects–the reading level is higher, obviously, so if you are doing it with younger kids, enlist the help of parents or reading coaches.  It also makes a pretty good extra credit assignment, if you do that.

The purpose is to get the student to read one of the articles and then engage in the content at a higher level.  Whether the student reads further, creates fiction based on the article, or is artistically inspired, he or she is reworking the content of the article into his or her own project.

This is a great way to expose students to science, history, sociology, travel, and culture beyond their classrooms!  Once they’ve tapped into the pictures and maps, the story becomes hard to resist.  Each article is a kind of field trip (almost) and it should capture students’ imaginations and fuel their curiosity–for life.

(Additional tip for history use:  Assign older Nat. Geo. magazines from a period you are studying–the old Life magazines work well, too–so, students could, for example, read about the Space Race as it was unfolding.  Now, you’ve advanced it to a primary source project!)

National Geographic Assignment

Directions:  Read the current issue of National Geographic Magazine and do one of the following activities using an article of your choice from that issue:

  • Write a short story
  • Make a board game
  • Write a play
  • Do a related experiment
  • Further reading
  • Write a short report
  • Make a travel brochure
  • Do an art project
  • Invent a product or service
  • Write a blog post
  • Write a letter to the author or someone in the article
  • Make an informative map or chart explaining an aspect of the article
  • Create a storyboard for a short movie or documentary inspired by the article
  • Draw one of the photographs from the article
  • Write a speech
  • Make a cartoon strip
  • Write a song or poem
  • Make a PowerPoint explaining the article or an aspect of the article
  • Create a glossary or encyclopedia entries for the article
  • Design a craft project inspired by the article
  • Create a non-profit/fundraising service idea to address an issue raised in the article
  • Prepare a meal inspired by the article

These projects also make good “show” projects when highlighting the class’s  work or an individual student’s accomplishments.  Stories, artwork, and other projects may be used for contests or projects beyond the school or home school.

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