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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Teaching Resources for the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan is on the minds of all of us, including our students. The event and aftermath is tragic and the continuing nuclear emergency is a reminder of how fragile society can be. As educators, we can help our students make sense of these events and give them the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their world.

In their book, Comprehension and Collaboration, Daniels and Harvey provide a comprehensive vision of what inquiry can look like in the classroom. They describe the following components that can easily be used to bring the Japanese earthquake into your classroom.

Immerse: Invite Curiosity and Wonder
Introduce the topic by asking your students what they already know about the disaster. Follow this by brainstorming a list of "wonderings" that students have. You may want to set the context for the discussion by reading a small excerpt from a news article or by showing a video.

Investigate: Develop Questions, Search for Information, and Discover Answers
Individuals or small groups select and refine a broad question that they find interesting. You should help students with their question so that it provides an opportunity for them to delve into a topic and consider multiple sources of information. Students can use the web, library resources, and other media to search for information.

Coalesce: Synthesize Information and Build Knowledge
Students should identify a small number of "knowledge claims" that they have learned from their research. These claims should be supported by evidence from multiple media sources.

Go Public: Demonstrate Understanding and Share Learning
Students can share their learning in a variety of ways. For example, they can create newspaper articles, videos, audio podcasts, posters, or infographics. The resources below provide a variety of perspectives on the Japanese earthquake. Some of the resources may not be suitable for all children.

Talking with Kids about Catastrophes

Plate Tectonics

Infographics

Earthquakes & Tsunamis

Earthquake and Tsunami Safety

Nuclear Reactors

Helping

This post also appears as an NSTABlog.

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh
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