The second phase of my curriculum unit takes place in the third marking period wherein informational text is still our primary literary focus and yet, in writing, students are required to learn the necessary steps to researching and paraphrasing information they have gathered on a particular topic. From our reading of Rescues!, students choose a natural disaster, which piques their interest most and then engage in further research of this topic. During this time, students are given presentations in our school library on how to search the Internet for credible, reliable sources and how to cite sources in a bibliography. I also give mini-lessons on how to avoid plagiarism when taking notes. This phase culminates in a poster or PowerPoint presentation given by pairs of students along with a model component in the form of a diorama. In this way students learn not only how to research but also about the important skills of working with another person cooperatively and efficiently.
Lesson 1: Picking a Research Topic
As a whole class, students generate a list of Natural Disasters they encountered in their reading and will choose one they would like to learn more about. The list may include:
2. floods and drought
6. avalanches, landslides, and mudslides
7. winter storms and blizzards
9. volcanic eruptions
10. thunderstorms and lightning
Once students have chosen their topic, pairs or pods of three are grouped together based on common interest. Students then receive a list of guiding questions, created by Julie A. Weaver in her 2013 publication "Natural Disasters", to assist them in their research.
If students are studying floods:
1. Compare the difference between a flashflood and a flood.
2. Where do floods occur?
3. What should you do to stay safe during a flood?
4. How can we try to keep our homes and belongings safe during a flood?
5. What is a drought? Why do droughts occur?
6. What areas closest to where you live are affected by droughts and floods?
7. How are droughts harmful?
8. Research some major droughts that have occurred and tell about them.
9. Research some major floods that have occurred and tell about them.
10. How can floods be dangerous or harmful to us, our natural resources, and way of living?
If students are studying Hurricanes:
1. What is the eye of an hurricane? Describe what it is like.
2. How fast and in what direction do hurricanes move?
3. How do we track a hurricane? What do hurricane hunters do?
4. How do we classify hurricanes? What is the name of the scale? What are the intensity levels?
5. How do hurricanes get their names?
6. How do hurricanes form? Where do they begin? When is hurricane season?
7. What is the difference between a hurricane and tropical storm?
8. Compare the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon.
9. What is a storm surge?
10. How long does a hurricane usually last?
11. How can we protect ourselves from hurricanes?
12. Research some of the biggest hurricanes that we have received. Tell about them.
If students are studying landslides, avalanches and mudslides:
1. Define the meaning of a landslide, an avalanche, and a mudslide.
2. How are they alike and different?
3. Where do they take place?
4. What causes them to take place or happen?
5. How can we predict when or where they will happen?
6. What can we do to protect ourselves? What precautions should we take?
7. Can we measure their strength or how far they slide? Describe the scale used for avalanches.
8-10. Research some major landslides, avalanches, and mudslides that have happened in modern times. Tell about them.
If students are studying winter storms:
1. Define and tell the differences between: sleet, snow, frost, freezing rain, and hail.
2. What is the difference between a winter storm warning, a winter storm watch, and a winter weather advisory?
3. What is a blizzard? Describe its effects.
4. What is an ice storm? Describe its effects.
5. How does a winter storm form?
6. What types of things can happen during a severe winter storm? How can you protect yourself during a winter storm?
7. How does lake-effect snow form?
8. What is thunder-snow?
9. What part of the country is most threatened by these types of storms?
10. Research some major winter storms and tell about them. How much snow or ice did places get?
If students are studying Tsunamis:
1. What is a tsunami?
2. What language does the word "tsunami" come from? What does it mean in English?
3. How are tsunamis formed?
4. What place is at the greatest risk for having a tsunami? Where do most occur?
5. How do they travel? What do they create?
6. How fast do they travel? Do they travel faster over shallow or deep water?
7. How high can a tsunami get?
8. What is the Deep-Ocean Assessment and
Reporting of Tsunami, or DART?
9. What should you do to protect yourself during a tsunami?
10. Research some major tsunamis that have occurred. Tell about them.
If students are studying wildfires:
1. What are wildfires?
2. Where do most of them occur?
3. What causes them to occur?
4. What are Santa Ana winds?
5. What is a fire tornado?
6. How do firefighters put out wildfires?
7. How can you prevent them from happening?
8. How often does it happen in the United States or around the world?
9. Research some of the major wildfires that occurred. Tell about them.
10. What should you do to protect yourself in cause of a wildfire?
If students are studying earthquakes:
1. What is an earthquake? Why do they happen?
2. Where do earthquakes happen?
3. What is plate tectonics?
4. How are earthquakes measured?
5. What is the name of the scale? What is their intensity?
6. How do scientists learn about earthquakes? How can they tell where an earthquake happened?
7. What and where are the major fault lines in the United States and around the world?
8. What should you do to protect yourself during an earthquake?
9. What are some other names for earthquakes?
10. Research some major earthquakes that have occurred. Tell about them.
If students are studying volcanoes:
1. What are volcanoes? How do they form?
2. Describe the inside of a volcano. What is the difference between lava and magma?
3. What happens when they erupt?
4. Why do volcanoes erupt?
5. How can volcanoes and the things that they erupt hurt us?
6. What are the differences between active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes?
7. Describe these different types of volcanoes: cinder cone, shield, lava, and composite.
8. How many volcanoes are known to us around the world?
9. Where are most of our active volcanoes found today?
10. How far away do the effects of the volcano reach?
11. What should you do to protect yourself in cause of a volcanic eruption?
12. Research some major volcanic eruptions. Tell about them.
If students are studying thunder storms:
1. What are thunderstorms?
2. What causes thunderstorms or what three things do they need?
3. What is lightning and how is it caused?
4. What causes thunder?
5. How far away can you see lightning and hear thunder? Can you tell how far away a storm is?
6. When and where do most thunderstorms occur?
7. How many thunderstorms do we have around the world every day?
8. What things should you do to protect yourself during a thunderstorm?
9. What types of precipitation occur during a thunderstorm?
10. What is a gust front?
11. How big are thunderstorms (in miles) and how long do they last?
12. What is the difference between a thunderstorm warning and a thunderstorm watch?
13. Research some different major thunderstorms in your area or region. Describe the effects of the storm.
If students are studying tornadoes:
1. What is a tornado?
2. How or why do tornadoes form?
3. What is the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado?
4. How fast do the winds rotate?
5. How far do tornados travel and typically over what type of land? How do tornados stop?
6. What is the Fujita tornado scale? How intense are tornados? Describe the levels.
7. What can we do to protect ourselves during a tornado?
8. What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
9. What is Tornado Alley?
10. When do tornados mostly occur?
11. Research some major tornados that have occurred. Tell about them.
Lesson 2: How to Research using Credible Sources on the Internet
Students are given a mini-lesson on the importance of searching for information on reputable websites versus the less-reliable, commercial ones. Students are then taught how to use websites like bearport.com, www.iconn.org , www.nationalgeographic.com etc, using keyword searches. It will be explained to students that information posted on commercial websites are actually paid to issue information which many times is not accurate and therefore not credible. Students are also given a Bibliography graphic organizer on which to begin citing their sources. Organizing their research sources into genre and identifying all of the components of a bibliography will be modeled. Students spend time in the computer lab practicing their searches on the afore mentioned websites and will be given scaffolded instruction and assistance in citing their sources appropriately.
Lesson 3: Paraphrasing Vs. Plagiarizing
Students learn the difference between taking direct quotes from a reading passage and rewriting someone else's words into our own words. The teacher models how present factual information gathered from a source in such a way that it is not using the original author's exact phrasing. Students are also cautioned that simply changing a few words within a sentence is not the true essence of paraphrasing either. Students are shown how to take direct quotes and cite them properly. (See Lesson Plan 1)
Lesson 4: Culminating Performance Tasks
Once students have gathered their information and written rough drafts of their notes on each guided question, they can be given the option to present the material on a poster or PowerPoint. Students who already know how to use PowerPoint will, in turn, show their partners how to create PowerPoint presentations and peer learning can occur naturally. Students who create a PowerPoint need to include 10 slides with pictures and some animation while students who choose to make a poster need to include headings, diagrams, pictures and organize their information in a cohesive manner. Students also have to work together on some sort of three-dimensional representation of their natural disaster, either in the form of a diorama or demonstration model. Students are assessed on their knowledge of the topic and their creativity in demonstrating their understanding of forces that cause the disaster to occur and its effects on the communities in its path.