Post-Visit Activity: I Want to be Captain!
- Grade Level:
- Third Grade-Fifth Grade
- Commerce and Industry, Economics, Entrepreneurs, Geography, Government, Hispanic or Latino American History and Culture, History, Maritime History, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Transportation, War of 1812
- 60-90 minutes
- Group Size:
- Up to 36
- National/State Standards:
- Massachusetts Grade 3: Concepts and Skills
History and Geography 2, 3
Learning Standards 3.9, 3.13
Grade 5: Concepts and Skills
Economics 12, 13, 14
Learning Standards 5.11, 5.33
OverviewIn “I Want to be Captain!” students create a persuasive writing piece to convince a ship owner that they will be a great captain. Using what they have learned, students will do pre-writing activities to create tools and reflections that will prepare them for successful writing. They will take on a “role” and write persuasively to an intended audience. Such writing practices high-level thinking, organizing, and writing skills. The lesson, for grades 3-5 will take 60-90 minutes to complete.
Students will be able to:
- Explain how maritime trade in Salem enabled some mariners to have social mobility,
- Describe how mariner's responsibilities changed as work changed.
- Explain the importance of maritime commerce in the development of the nation.
1. Read the following writing prompt to students and/or write it for the class to see and refer back to: I want to be Captain!
Convince a ship-owner that you would be a great captain for his ship:
It is the year 1820 and you have completed many years of work as a ship's boy and sailor on board Friendship and other ships. William Fabens is the owner of the schooner Virginia and is looking for a new captain. Write William Fabens a persuasive letter to convince him that you are ready to take on the responsibilities that come with being a captain.
2. As a class, have students brainstorm what they remember about the duties and responsibilities of a ship's boy, sailor and captain. Be sure to record student responses in a visible location or have students list them on paper that has been divided into three columns: Ship's boy duties and responsibilities, Sailor duties and responsibilities, and Captain duties and responsibilities. (This will help students convince the ship's owner of their experience and that they know what is expected of a captain.) See On-line Resource: Duties of the Crew aboard Vessels like Friendship
3. Next, have students brainstorm a list of the things they did aboard Fame and the parts of the schooner that they learned about. Be sure to record student responses in a visible location or have students list them on paper that has been divided into two columns: Parts of the schooner, Things I did aboard Fame. (Since students are applying to be captain of a schooner they need to show the owner that they are familiar with schooners.)
4. Finally, have students brainstorm a list of Salem's trade destinations and some of the trade goods carried by Salem ships like Friendship. Be sure to record student responses in a visible location or have students list them on paper that has been divided into two columns: Destinations and Trade goods. (This will be important for a captain to know.)
5. Have students organize their letter by doing the following:
- Look back at their 3 lists. Put check marks next to information to include in their persuasive letter. Remind students that they want to convince the owner that they have a lot of experience and know what is expected of a captain.
- Ask students to think of some adjectives to describe themselves that will impress the owner and list them. They should use the words in the letter to be more persuasive about their abilities.
- Decide where to put the pieces of information in the letter. Students may want to number each piece of information so they know how to order each detail.
- Write an introduction sentence that tells William Fabens who they are and what they want to do. All of the details in the letter should support this introduction.
6. Students are now ready to write a rough draft. Remember to have them use language that is persuasive.
7. Have students show the rough draft to a classmate, parent or teacher to get feedback. If they were the owner of the schooner, would they hire you as captain?
8. Revise the draft.
9. Write the final copy.
10. Share! The Park Rangers and staff of Salem Maritime NHS and Schooner Fame love to see and read student work! Please send any examples to the following address:
Salem Maritime National Historic Site
160 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
1. Informal teacher observation of the activity in progress.
2. Informal checking for understanding during classroom discussion.
3. Students will submit a rough draft of their letter for review.
4. Students will write and submit a final version of the letter.
The purpose of Salem Maritime National Historic Site is to promote the maritime history of New England and the United States, and preserve part of the historic waterfront in Salem, Massachusetts. Together, this collection of wharves and buildings tell the story of the development of colonial port towns, the importance of international trade to the early economy of the United States, and the connection between maritime trade and growing industrialization.