Reading Paired Texts: Boston Molasses Flood and Chemical Spills

I'm just trucking along here in the North East, with about 5 more weeks of school.  I am so jealous that some of my friends have less than 10 days left.  June seems so far away... and June 25th is like looking for Antarctica.  This week we will be finishing up a little work from a narrative nonfiction article that we read from SCOPE magazine.  I have to tell you how much I have loved using SCOPE this year.  The articles are in depth and informative.   If you have an upper elementary classroom grade 5-8, invest in a year of SCOPE.   It is packed full of great stuff!  .. Look at the cover from our March issue.
Doesn't it completely draw your attention!
This past week we focused on a paired text series.  One of the stories was called The Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.  It is the story of a huge tankard of molasses that cracked and sent a 50 foot tidal wave of molasses into Boston's North End, killing 21 people.  
If that sounds intriguing and if you study immigration, you can watch this really cool video about the Molasses Flood.

It was a great social studies tie in for us too because we are finishing up the Industrial Revolution, and beginning World War I.  My Smarties were amazed that they used to make bombs by distilling the molasses.  Who would have thought!

We are pairing it with another environmental story called Don't Touch the Water about a chemical spill in West Virginia.  This was interesting because the people could not drink or use or TOUCH the water in their community for weeks!  The area has still not gotten a complete diagnostic about the chemicals that spilled into the river.
After completing some close read questions, about each topic, we compared the two texts.  That is another thing I LOVE about SCOPE.  There are so many different activities with each story, and suggestions for differentiation too!
These two stories kept my students completely engaged in reading last week.  LOVE it!  Especially with more than 25 days of school to go!  

How are you keeping your students focused?


  1. I think you should just pack your suitcase and come to Florida. I think I only have 11 1/2 days left with kids. One of those days is a field trip to a water park!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. You know I would totally LOVE it!
      :) Michele


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