Teacher's Guide for Breathing Underwater
This page includes Multiple Intelligence Projects,
comprehension questions, and a prediction guide for Breathing
Underwater written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, visit her website: www.tracievaughnzimmer.com.
Note: There are additional essay
questions for Breathing Underwater in the Book
Talk section of
Alex Flinn's website and discussion questions for both books in the Discussion
Comprehension Guide/ Quiz questions:
- Identify the major characters in Breathing Underwater. What role
do they each play in the plot?
- Locate at least three details in the first chapters that reveal
the setting of the book and the lifestyle of the characters.
- In your own words, write a brief summary of what happened between
Nick and Caitlin.
- List five key events in the plot of Breathing Underwater.
- What scenes illustrate Nicks denial of what he actually did to
Caitlyn? How does that add to the suspense in the book?
- Find three local resources for someone who is in Caitlyns
situation. Be sure to list phone numbers and addresses, and the
types of services they offer.
- What types of controlling behavior does Mario discuss in his
family violence class? Do you agree with his assessment?
- Compare and contrast Tom and Nick. How are their lives similar,
- How would you handle the events in this book if you were Caitlyn?
- Do you think Nick is less guilty because of his fathers abuse?
Or, is that only an excuse for bad behavior? Use examples to prove
- Will Tom and Nick be able to become close friends again?
- Will Caitlyn ever get involved in an abusive relationship again?
Why or why not.
- Which scene do you think was most vivid? Why?
Multiple Intelligence Projects
Multiple Intelligence theory is based of the work of
Howard Gardner at Harvard. The thrust of his research shows that people
have a variety of intelligences, not just the two that schools focus on
(math/language) and that many students can reach higher degrees of
success when they are allowed to use the one where they excel.
Write a prediction guide for a new reader of Breathing Underwater.
Ask questions which will later be answered by events in the book.
For example, after the January 17 chapter, an appropriate question
. Will Nick stick to his punishment or will he violate the
terms of his parole?
Write a brief timeline of the major events in the story. Be sure to
file scenes in their proper location, since the narrative is written
outside chronological order. Scenes that are written as flashback should
be identified in a different color. Circle what you believe to be the
major turning point in the story.
Gather old newspapers and cut out any articles, headlines or pictures
that deal with the themes of violence and abuse. Create a collage type
effect, and then write a short public service announcement for the top
of the poster. Use color to highlight important points.
Act out the scene where Nick accuses Caitlin of flirting with Derek.
Dont write a script just do it as you remember it.
Find lyrics that you think Nick would enjoy. In a short journal
Reread the section that begins on page 239. Then, imagine the scenes
as if they are a movie playing inside your head. Decide:
If you were casting director, which friends would you choose to play
each part? Why?
Where would you film the scenes in your community?
What parts would warrant a close up? For what effect?
Would you use black and white film, or color or a combination. Defend
If you have access to a video camera, go film the locations, and
perhaps have a casting call with your friends.
Novel jury. With no more than five students, the group must come to
some kind of consensus on the following issues from the novel.
- Could Caitlins mother have prevented the abuse?
- Who is more responsible for what happened: Nick or his father?
- Will Nick be different in his next relationship?
- Should Tom have been able to stop Nick?
- Did the sexual relationship between Caitlin and Nick contribute to
- Are there any times where hitting a boyfriend/girlfriend are
justified? If so, when?
Examine closely the cover art. List a possible number of topics that
the book could be about. What do you think the author means by the
Read just the first page. What do you know already about the main
character and his father?
All material, copyright 2002 by Tracie
Vaughn Zimmer. Please contact her or Alex Flinn for permission to
use this material in education guides or other media.