Lesson Plan on the Edmund Fitzgerald

Teacher: Amy Kozloski Subject: Social Studies
Grade Level: 4  Date: June 6, 2001

Sunshine Strand: People, Places, and Environments

Sunshine Standard: The student understands the interactions of people and the physical environment

I. Content: I want my students to understand the reasons for the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald’s loss.

II. Prerequisites: The student should be able to describe key vocabulary pertaining to the basic anatomy of a ship (engine room, crew’s quarters, cargo holds, hatch openings, and pilothouse) when given the word.

III. Instructional Objective: When requested, the student will describe how the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in the Great Lake Superior. Included in the description must be a reference to what the Edmund Fitzgerald was, the body of water it was traveling, where the ship was headed, the weather conditions, and the apparent cause of the sinking.

IV. Instructional Procedures:

Lesson-Initiating Activities: The students will be placed in groups of 3-4. Each group will be given a copy of the headline only from newspapers about the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald around the time of the Fitzgerald’s loss. The students will be allotted 5-7 minutes to make a prediction based on the headline of what they think occurred. The teacher will circulate and observe while they are working. When finished, the teacher will ask each group to read their headline aloud and state their prediction.

Core Activities: The teacher will present the students with the remainder of the article attached to each headline. Each group will be given 10-15 minutes to read the body of the article and compare their predictions. Next, the teacher will hold a discussion with the class to point out important facts such as the following:

· What was the Edmund Fitzgerald? (Lake Freighter.)
· On what body of water was it traveling? (Lake Superior.)
· Where was it traveling from? (Superior, Wisconsin.)
· Where was it headed? (Whitefish Point.)
· How many people were on the Fitzgerald? (29 crew.)
· What was the captain’s name? (Earnest McSorely.)
· What direction was the Fitzgerald heading in? (Northeasterly-hugging the sheltered Minnesota North shore.)
· When did this occur? (November 1975.)
· What happened to the Fitzgerald? (Sank in Lake Superior.)
· What was the weather like? (Stormy and rough with waves reaching 25 feet.)
· What reason(s) were stated for the Fitzgerald’s loss? (Ineffective hatch closures allowing water in and causing a list; loss of buoyancy.)
· What do you think might have happened?

During the discussion, the teacher will ask students to identify, by placing red dots on a map, where Lake Superior is located, where the Fitzgerald began it’s journey, and where Whitefish Point is according to the newspapers. To visualize the trip, yellow dots will also be placed to show the route the Fitzgerald took in effort to reach Whitefish Point.

Following the discussion, the students will imagine they are living in the year 1975. They are given the ability to see in to the future and therefore are aware of the tragic loss of the Fitzgerald before it actually happens. If effort to save the ship, they are to write Captain Earnest McSorely a letter describing the situation that will occur, including the weather conditions, route that will be taken, and details regarding the reasons the ship sank (ineffective hatch closures, water causing a list). Lastly, the students will propose an alternate route for Captain McSorely to take and support their reasons in order to gain McSorely’s trust. The teacher will circulate and assist while students are working.

Closure Activities: The lesson will conclude with students voluntarily reading the letters they have written to Captain McSorely. Next, the teacher will review the key information learned in the lesson.

ESOL Considerations: The teacher will provide additional pictures and articles for LEP students to help clarify event. Along with the teacher’s help, LEP students will work with a partner when writing their letter for added assistance.

V. Materials and Equipment:

Newspaper articles about the Edmund Fitzgerald (obtained from the archives of many online papers)
Pictures of the ship
Map of the United States/Canada
Red label dots
Yellow label dots

VI. Assessment/Evaluation: The teacher will give the class a written test in which the student is given directions to describe how the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. Directions will tell the student to describe what the Edmund Fitzgerald was, the body of water it was traveling, the location it was headed, the weather conditions, and the apparent reasons for the ship’s loss.

VII. Follow-up Activities: For homework, the students will be given this short essay topic, "If you were a salvage master and successfully raised all or part of the broken Edmund Fitzgerald, what would you do with it?"

The lesson will continue tomorrow in class by comparing the depth of the water (535 feet) the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in, to the length of a car, the school, and the soccer field. The students will answer the question if the Fitzgerald were in one piece and stood up on end where it sank, would any of it stick out of the water? How much?

VIII. Self-Assessment: The teacher will review the content of the lesson by the accuracy of the letters written assigned in the core activity, as well as the accuracy and quality of the lesson assessment and the short essay and math lesson assigned in the follow-up activities. The teacher will compare the work of the students with the intended outcome and decide what changes must be made to improve this lesson.

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