Teaching Resources for the Japanese Earthquake and TsunamiMarch 14, 2011 | Eric Brunsell
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
- SFGate: Talking to Kids about the Japanese Earthquake
- WFAA: Talking to Children about the Earthquake in Japan
- USGS: Earthquakes for Kids
- How Stuff Works: Tsunamis
- Universe Today: Pacific Ring of Fire
- CBS News Online: Pacific Ring of Fire (video)
- Yahoo Kids! Plate Tectonics Page
Earthquakes & Tsunamis
- Scholastic: Reading the Richter Scale
- CBS News: How Earthquakes are Measured
- U.S. Department of State: U.S. Geologists Explain Science Behind Japanese Earthquakes
- New York Times Interactive: How Shifting Plates Caused the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
- BBC: Japan's Earthqauke
- Yahoo! News: Japan Earthquake & Tsunami video collection
- Scientific American: The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
- Scientific American: How Does an Earthquake Trigger Tsunamis Thousands of Miles Away?
- BBC: Japan Earthquake - Footage of Moment Tsunami hit
- Australian Broadcast Corporation: Japan Earthquake Before and After (images)
- National Geographic: Tsunami Facts in Wake of Japan Earthquake
- National Geographic: Tsunami Waves Hit U.S.
- CBS: Pacific Northwest at risk for quake like Japan's
- NOAA: Tsunami Page
Earthquake and Tsunami Safety
- Public Radio International: Japan's Earthquake Resistant Buildings
- Scientific American: Seconds Before the Big One - Progress in Earthquake Alarms
- MSNBC: How Quake Prediction Works (or not)
- Japan's Earthquake Early Warning system
- NOAA: How Does a Tsunami Warning System Work?
- How Stuff Works: How Nuclear Power Works
- How a Nuclear Reactor Works (animation)
- New York Times: Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months
- The Guardian's Nuclear Power page
- U.S. Department of Energy: Impact of Radiation on Humans
- CNN Dr. Gupta: Radiation Fears in Sendai
This post also appears as an NSTABlog.