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.

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