The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The Man Who Walked Between The TowersPhilipe Petit was always challenged to walk the tightrope in as many difficult places as possible. As the twin towers were going up in New York in 2001 he determined that he would have to walk before it was finished and occupied. He organized friends, snuck in the ropes and rigging he would need with friends, suspended the rope and then he walked out into the wind. He walked, danced, ran, knelt, and even lay down on the rope. When arrested he was sentenced to perform for students in Central Park. The book ends poignantly with the shadows of the towers after the attack on September 11, 2001.

Mordicai Gerstein, MacMillan, ©2003, 978-0-7613-1791-3

There are several related websites that can add to the study of this book.

Man on Wire (a cineme verite version of the walk):

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (a storyteller reads the book):

The Nick Wallenda walk across Niagara:

Tightrope Walking

Stretch around 8 very long ropes across the gym floor and ask student to walk them, keeping their balance. How many seconds can they stay on the rope? Ask them to time each other with their arms at their sides, and with their arms out. Then give them a balancing pole to hold while they walk…they should see that it is a great deal easier to stay balanced. (You need lots of ropes because you want mass participation…not a lot of students watching other students.)

For the science of tightrope walking there is a nice video that explains the balance, the centre of gravity, the inner ear, and so on.

For 11 creative writing ideas, click The Man Who Walked Between the Towers to download.


Queen of Falls

QueenFallsAnnie Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, the first to survive, the first woman for over 95 years, and the only woman to do it alone. This is her story – the story of a woman over 60 years of age who did an amazing thing.

Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin, ©2010, 978-0547-31581-2

Start in the Middle of the Action

This book is a brilliant example of starting a story in the middle of the action, then going back to fill in the backstory, and bringing your reader back up to the beginning point of the story.

In this book, a crowd has gathered to watch a barrel go over the falls but why is the barrel so important? The book then flashes back to Annie Taylor’s life, leads her up to the falls, and then follows on with the rest of the story. After analyzing how the “start in the middle of the action” strategy works, have students re-write a story they have written by starting at the action point and flashing back to the beginning.

Science Egg Drop Project

Annie Taylor knows, “You can put an egg inside a can and let it drop to the floor. The can may not be damaged, but it’s a different story for the egg.” This is a classic science project. How do you protect an egg from breaking in a 20 foot drop? One of the neatest demonstrations is The Science Egg Drop Project by Bradley who demonstrates 5l contraptions he built to protect an egg in a 19 foot drop. This can also make a good science challenge for your students.

For 9 writing ideas, click Queen of the Falls to download.