Objective: Students will write journal entry imagining their experience in a disaster- landslide, earthquake, or volcano.
Materials: First hand accounts of people who survived disaster such as those that can be found at
The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco: Eyewitness Accounts
(www.sfmuseum.org/1906/ew.html). They include accounts from the writer Jack London to opera singer Enrico Caruso, as well as, a member of the fire department, a Naval officer describing rescue operation in the harbor, and a couple of doctors describing emergency services. These accounts should be read and discussed with students along with viewing some of the numerous photos that exist of the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake.
There is also the famous account of the explosion of the volcano at Vesuvius by Pliny the Younger to his friend, the Roman historian Tacitus. Discovery channel video has a recreation of the explosion and Pliny’s letter in which he tells of the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder (www.dsc.discovery.com/convergence/pompeii/pliny/video.html). Either or both of these would help to bring the human toll of these disasters home to students. Of course teachers will have to read and monitor if they feel that any of the accounts are too graphic or inappropriate for their students.
1. Students will view photos and drawings of disasters such as the San Francisco Earthquake or the explosion of Vesuvius and its effects on Pompeii.
2. Students will try to make a connection to a time when they were caught in a strong storm or other potentially dangerous situation.
3. The teacher will help students brain storm a list of describing words they could use in telling about their experience.
4. Students will be asked to use what they felt along with what they saw in the photos to help them write a letter or journal entry to a friend or family member describing their experience and how they felt.
5. Students will be given a rubric in which they have to use vivid language and at least one comparison.
6. Students will share their writings with one another. The class will use copies of the rubric to grade classmates writing.