Titanic Disaster Discoveries

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The maiden voyage of the unsinkable ship that was ultimately wrecked by an iceberg was the focal point for a recent project involving the fifth-grade students in Jennifer Kleiber and Lori Mandell’s class at Blue Point Elementary in the Bayport-Blue Point School District. During a nonfiction unit of study, the students read countless texts on the Titanic disaster to learn more about this literary genre before writing individual feature articles on the subject. For their penned pieces, each student chose a topic related to the Titanic, such as Captain Smith, iceberg warnings, lessons learned after the sinking and the different boarding class levels on the ship, and researched that area using various sources of information. Taking notes on the facts discovered, the students created articles detailing their chosen area of study.

Throughout the unit, the fifth-graders learned proper note-taking techniques and how to organize their notes, as well as different journalistic components, including the importance of a catchy lead sentence and strong supportive paragraphs. The finalized projects were bound into a class book on the Titanic, which was sent home every night with a different student in the class.

While the entire class enjoyed learning about this historic event, one student was able to make a special and memorable connection with the famous ship. After speaking about his genuine interest in the subject, fifth-grader Patrick Druckenmiller was encouraged by Mrs. Kleiber and Mrs. Mandell to write a letter to Dr. Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic wreckage in 1985, expressing his curiosity in the boat. To the class’ surprise, Patrick’s correspondence to Dr. Ballard was reciprocated with a personalized letter and autographed picture from the famous oceanographer. As a special thank-you, the class sent Dr. Ballard a copy of their class book on the Titanic.