A tsunami of historical proportions has hit the island of Japan. The photos leave one at a loss for words since few words can fully describe the horrors both seen and unseen. The death tolls continue to rise.
Come Tuesday morning when I return to my classroom, I will be faced with a barrage of questions about this human tragedy. The science of the event will also enter the discussion. With the support of power points such as this one from a science class entitled TSUNAMI, students can see what causes them and the unbelievable death and destruction it brings. Another good power point is from USC Department of Education. The photos of shorelines just before the tsunami hits and right after would underscore the unbridled force of this release of nature's fury.
How can teachers sensitively address natural disasters with students within the classroom? Let the New York Times help you. This tragic event is a teachable moment. Through the NY Times archives, teachers could draw comparisons between this event and similar ones over the last 10 years (Haiti, Chile, Southeast Asia, etc.). One major theme which could be addressed is SURVIVAL. What do you do if you are in such a setting? How do you hang on until someone finds you? This is a theme that people in California take seriously since a major quake is always just around the corner. Surviving a tsunami advice is based on data from disasters in Chile, Hawaii, and Japan. Have students review the site with some guiding questions from the teacher to make sure that students identify key points. Using cooperative learning groups would be the most effective way to address the activity. This way ELLs could be placed with students who have more English and therefore can help the ELL access the information.
One more site which could be used in classes with ELLs (or mixed classes )is the following:
Time For Kids (grades K-1, 2, 3-4, 5-6) has tsunami coverage written in its current issue. There is also a Spanish translation of most articles. If you want everyone involved in the lesson, you will want to differentiate as much as possible and this online magazine can facilitate this.
If you have tried different approaches to address this natural disaster, please share.
ELL TEACHER PROS