Welcome and Overview

This is only a web preview. To print the Idea Book, click here.

Dear Teachers,

Welcome to this idea book! As I have visited schools, I have been repeatedly impressed by the creativity and dedication of the teachers I have met. These experiences plus my own two years teaching high school English and my mother’s forty years in the classroom have taught me that teachers always have too much to do and welcome any help they can get to make texts more accessible and more meaningful to their students.

With this in mind, I have tried to put together materials that will be useful to you, the teacher. Knowing that each class requires something different and that The Great Wide Sea is used in classes from fourth through twelfth grade, I have not tried to aim at any particular grade or reading level. Instead, I have tried to create a collection of materials and ideas from which you can pick and choose. Or, you may simply let these ideas be inspiration to create your own materials. And, if you create something you would be willing to share, please email me and perhaps we can discuss the possibility of putting your materials on the website, too!

Part I includes tools useful in all classrooms. The first is a set of chapter-by-chapter study or review questions intended to help students not only understand what happens in the story but also focus on some of the underlying “whys.” Next comes a set of vocabulary lists. The general list appears first in page order and then in alphabetical order. The list of sailing terms corresponds to the terms in the website glossary—I think.

Part II focuses on Language Arts issues. It includes first a set of questions investigating the elements of fiction and the writer’s tools as they appear in The Great Wide Sea. Another set of questions is broader and geared toward either discussion or essay topics. Next comes a group of questions that focus on the poems and books mentioned in the novel. Finally, I have included a set of writing prompts that are more creative than expository.

After Language Arts comes—everything else. Accordingly, Part III is entitled “Across the Curriculum.” Some schools have used The Great Wide Sea in their One Book/One School projects and have shared ideas about how to use the novel across the curriculum. Having taught only English, I have added to these ideas to the best of my limited abilities and hope that you will share your more specific ideas.

Part IV consists of a list of ideas for school-wide projects. As I write this letter, I have only a few items to include. I hope that as you use The Great Wide Sea in your schools, you will help me add more and more ideas for others to share.

In Part V, I have acknowledged those teachers or schools whose ideas I have used and who agreed to allow me to acknowledge them. Where practical, I included a reference to the teacher or school in the text. When you see a reference, turn to Part V to learn more about that teacher or school. Finally, Part VI includes some specific materials that these same teachers have shared so that you can benefit from their ideas. We are all grateful for both their talent and their generosity.

Please enjoy your voyage through these ideas. Writing The Great Wide Sea was a rich and fulfilling experience—but seeing what happens with it in the hands of teachers like you is even more fulfilling. Keep up the good work! Our future depends on you.

M.H. Herlong