The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic by Robert D. Ballard

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Elementary School Category!

Student Activities for The Unsinkable Wreck of the RMS Titanic Include:

In "The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic," a short, expository text, the author excitedly relays how robots explored the wreck of the sunken R.M.S. Titanic.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!

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A Quick Synopsis of "The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic" (Contains Plot Spoilers)

In 1912, the Titanic was the largest, most luxurious ship the world had ever seen. Tragedy struck: the Titanic hit an iceberg and rapidly sank, killing over 1,500 people. From inside a cramped submarine named Alvin, the author, Dr. Robert Ballard, describes the excitement of exploring the sunken Titanic. The submarine crew were the first to see the Titanic’s deck in over seventy years.

The submarine sails along the deck of the ship, finding the location where Frederick Fleet had been working when he shouted, “Iceberg right ahead”. The pilot set Alvin gently on the liner’s bridge where the telemotor control, a steering mechanism, is still intact. It was here that First Officer William Murdoch had shouted, “Hard a-starboard!” in an attempt to avoid hitting the iceberg. The author thinks about Captain E.J. Smith being told the terrible news and realizing that the unsinkable Titanic was doomed.

The submarine lifts off the bridge and heads toward the stern. Here, the brass plate with the words “1st Class Entrance” can be seen. This is also where passengers loaded onto the lifeboats; the narrator thinks about how the lifeboats were launched with twenty-five people, even though they were designed to carry more than forty.

The stern is nearly two thousand feet away. Where the ship had broken in two, hundreds of objects are spilled out onto the ocean floor. Plates, champagne bottles with their corks, a porcelain doll’s head, and many shoes and boots. Dr. Robert Ballard describes the shoes and boots as being the most haunting of all; many were still in pairs where the body had fallen, but within a few weeks of sinking the corpses had been consumed by underwater creatures.

After two hours of exploring the remains of the Titanic, Alvin makes its two and a half mile ascent. Dr. Robert Ballard already feels impatient, and cannot wait to return to learn more of Titanic’s secrets.

Essential Questions for "The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic"

  1. How does technology help adventurers reach new places?
  2. How does the author feel about the tragedy?
  3. How has transportation changed since 1912?

The Unsinkable Wreck of the RMS Titanic Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Titanic Vocabulary Lesson Plan

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Students will demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words by using a Frayer Model. After choosing a word, students provide the definition, example, synonyms, and antonyms of the word. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text. See below for an example of a completed visual vocabulary board.


  • Definition
    n. extreme and continued pain; intense physical or mental suffering

  • Example from Text
    “Then Murdoch watched in excruciating agony as the huge ship slowly began to turn -
    but it was too late and the iceberg fatally grazed the liner’s side.”

  • Examples
    anguish, misery, torment, torture

  • Non-Examples
    contentment, happiness, joy, comfort

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a Frayer Model for one of the vocabulary words from The Unsinkable Wreck of the RMS Titanic.

  1. Choose a vocabulary word and type it into the center title box.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and enter it into the description box under Definition.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the Definition cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  4. Think of at least three characteristics that help expand the meaning beyond the definition.
  5. Provide written and visual examples of the word.
  6. Provide written and visual non-examples of the word.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Titanic Figurative Language

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"The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic" has several examples of figurative language including personification, simile, and hyperbole. In this activity, students can display their understanding of figurative language by identifying the examples and creating a literal or figurative portrayal of the language from this informational text.

Personification Giving human-like characteristics to non-human objects or abstract ideas “Effortlessly we rose up the side of the famous bow, now weeping great tears of rust, past the huge anchor and up over the rail.”
Simile A comparison using 'like' or 'as' “Like a ghost from the ancient past, the bow of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic, the greatest shipwreck of all time, materialized out my viewport.”
Metaphor An implied comparison between two things “I crouched on my knees, my eyes glued to the tiny viewport.”

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows three examples of figurative language in "The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic" .

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify use of figurative language in the text.
  3. Put the type of figurative language (such as simile or metaphor) in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Titanic Point of View

In this activity, students will examine the author’s point of view and make inferences based on details from the text.

  • Example 1: “‘Come right!’ I was so excited I was almost shouting, even though the two others with me inside Alvin were so close I could touch them.”
  • Example 2: “I felt as though I had walked into a dream.”
  • Example 3: “I was already impatient to return to the Titanic.”
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Titanic Character Map

In this activity, students should depict the characters of the story, paying close attention to the physical and character traits of the characters. Students should provide detailed information regarding how the person feels (or might have felt) in the main event. In addition, students can identify the challenges the person faced during the main event.

Characters included in the character map are:

  • Dr. Robert D. Ballard
  • Frederick Fleet
  • First Officer WIlliam Murdoch
  • Captain E.J Smith
  • Minnie Coutts
  • Willie and Neville Coutts
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Titanic | Visual Elements of a Text

In this activity, students will identify how additional visual and graphic information in the text is helpful in understanding the content.

The question is, “How are the graphic resources helpful to understanding the events?”

The answers provided are:

  • The graphic resources provide a concise description of the events.
  • The graphic resources provide a timeline of events.
  • The graphic resources provide additional information about the topic.
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•   (English) The Unsinkable Wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic   •   (Español) El Naufragio Inestable del RMS Titanic   •   (Français) L'Épave Unsinkable du RMS Titanic   •   (Deutsch) Das Unsinkbare Wrack der RMS Titanic   •   (Italiana) Il Relitto Inaffondabile del Titanic   •   (Nederlands) De Unsinkable Wrak van de RMS Titanic   •   (Português) O Naufrágio Incontrolável do RMS Titanic   •   (עברית) הטרופה Unsinkable של הטיטניק RMS   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) حطام قابل للإغراق من تيتانيك   •   (हिन्दी) आरएमएस टाइटैनिक के अनसाइक्केबल मलबे   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Непотопляемый Корабль RMS Titanic   •   (Dansk) Den Unsinkable Vraget af RMS Titanic   •   (Svenska) Den Unsinkable Wreck av RMS Titanic   •   (Suomi) Uppoamaton Hylky RMS Titanic   •   (Norsk) Den Unsinkable Vraket av Titanic   •   (Türkçe) RMS Titanik'in Unsinkable Enkazı   •   (Polski) Nieprzenikniony Wrak RMS Titanica   •   (Româna) Wreckul Nemaivăzut al Titanicului RMS   •   (Ceština) Nenápadná Vražda RMS Titanicu   •   (Slovenský) Nenápadný Vrak RMS Titanic   •   (Magyar) Az Elsüllyeszthetetlen Roncs a Titanic   •   (Hrvatski) Nesvrstavajuća Olupina RMS Titanica   •   (български) Непомиримото Развалино на RMS Титаник   •   (Lietuvos) Unsinkable Nuolaužos RMS Titanikas   •   (Slovenščina) Nepotopljiva Razbitin za RMS Titanic   •   (Latvijas) Unsinkable Vraks Titāniks   •   (eesti) Uppumatu Vrakk Titanic