Sunday, June 30, 2013

In the Heart of the Sea Lesson Plans

As I mentioned in my post about Dark Tide, I usually use each springtime One Book selection in my course for future geography teachers. Once again, the author -- the delightful Nathaniel Philbrick -- has done a lot of the relevant work for us, by writing a popular history so richly infused with geography.

From How to Watch a Horror Movie
Most of the students in my course are planning to teach at early childhood or elementary levels (since high-school teachers in Massachusetts are currently not allowed to study geography), so none of them would be likely to use Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea in their actual classrooms. The subtitle -- The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex -- scarcely hints at the gruesomeness of this tale, which I often had to read through thinly-parted fingers.

Seriously, this is a complex tale, expertly told, with many insights into the environmental and economic geography of whaling. Fortunately, the tale is so compelling that several versions are available at various reading levels, including a young-adult version by Philbrick himself.

As with Dark Tide, my students created lesson plans, in this case according to themes, connecting the book to the national geography frameworks. The course web page includes these plans, links to alternative texts, and many other resources. We include photographs taken during a class field trip to Nantucket, funded by the BSU Office for Undegraduate Research.

View In the Heart of the Sea in a larger map

The students and I also developed a map of the significant places in the story. It is shown here at a global scale; zoom in to see relevant Nantucket sites in more detail.

Dark Tide Lesson Plans

In the spring of 2011, the One Book One Community selection was Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. A highlight of the semester was the campus visit by Stephen Puleo, a public intellectual who brings together diligent research and perceptive analysis with a gift for story-telling.

As I have done most spring semesters since the One Book partnership began, I used Dark Tide as a text for an upper-level course I teach for future geography teachers. Because they will need to adapt all kinds of things for use in their classrooms, I have them apply the geography curricular frameworks to whichever text we are reading.

In the case of Dark Tide, the author really did half the work for us. Puleo tells the true story of this disaster and its aftermath in the context of its times, tying it to global geopolitics and the geography of local immigrant communities. Working in teams, students created lesson plans for several different chapters, and I posted them on the class web page for other educators to use or modify.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Nickel and Dimed

Our first One Book One Community Selection in the spring of 2006 was Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. The highlight of the programming was an author visit.

click to enlarge