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Traditional Navigation

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: War of 1812

Grade Level: 6-8

Common Core Standards
RS.4. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific or technical context relevant to grade level texts and topics.

Content Areas: Reading, Science, Math, Social Studies

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-50 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will understand the ways people determine where they are and how to get where they want to go. Students will identify the reference points used for navigation. Students will use whole number calculations for problem solving.


  1. Introduce the concept of navigation as something we all do every day to get from one place to another. Discuss the places students have been that day and how they knew how to get there. Point out that sailors at sea have unique problems that most of us do not.
  2. Read aloud or have students read the article “Traditional Navigation” independently.
  3. Following the reading have students answer the comprehension questions on the worksheet.
  4. Review the responses students gave on their worksheets. Clarify any errors or differences of opinion.

Assessments: Collect worksheets to determine accuracy of reading comprehension and calculations.

Materials/Resources: Traditional Navigation Article and Worksheet

Special Considerations: Weaker readers may need support from the whole group, be paired with a partner, or pre-read the article with support. Teachers should determine whether or not the use of calculators is appropriate.

Extensions: Students may want to learn more about Celestial Navigation. This is a very complicated, but fascinating science and art. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is an excellent children’s biography (and winner of the 1956 Newbury award) by Jean Lee Latham about the famous American navigator Nathaniel Bowditch.
GPS is very common today. Students might be interested in how it actually works.
Students might be interested to find out what is measured in “knots” besides ship speed. What other measuring units are unique to a particular activity?