The Impact of Natural Disasters | EL Education Curriculum

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The Impact of Natural Disasters

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In this module, students read literary and informational texts to understand the impact of natural disasters on places and people. In Unit 1, students work in expert groups to research a natural disaster, focusing on answering the question: "How do natural disasters affect the people and places that experience them?" As they research, they think about how authors use reasons and evidence to support particular points. Students then use their research to write and record a public service announcement (PSA) explaining how to stay safe during a natural disaster. In Unit 2, students read and analyze literary texts about the aftermath of natural disasters, including poems, songs, and Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat, a story about a boy trapped under his house for eight days after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In the first half of the unit, students analyze the way illustrations in texts and visuals in videos contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty of the text. In the second half of the unit, they analyze how the narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described. In Unit 3, students take action to help others prepare for a natural disaster. They research supplies to include in an emergency preparedness kit and write opinion essays on the most important items to include. For the performance task, students present to a live audience about preparing for a natural disaster. They present their PSAs; unpack an emergency preparedness kit, giving the rationale for the items included; and distribute an informational leaflet. This performance task centers on CCSS ELA SL.5.4, SL.5.5, and SL.5.6.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • How do natural disasters affect the people and places that experience them? 
    • Natural disasters can devastate people and places.
    • A narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events in a literary text are described.
    • Visual elements in literature contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty of the text.
  • How can we prepare for a natural disaster?
    • We can prepare for a natural disaster by learning about what to do in the event of a natural disaster and preparing an emergency preparedness kit.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: The Impact of Natural Disasters
  • Task: Presentation: Preparing for a Natural Disaster
  • Targets: SL.5.4, SL.5.5, and SL.5.6
  • Text: Eight Days: A Story of Haiti

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block. But the module intentionally incorporates Science and Social Studies content that may align to additional teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

Next Generation Science Standards:

Earth and Space Science Performance Expectation:

  • 4-ESS3-2: Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
    • ESS3.B: A variety of natural hazards result from natural processes. Humans cannot eliminate natural hazards but can take steps to reduce their impacts. (4-ESS3-2)

College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards:

  • D2.Geo.9.3-5.

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

In this module, students work to contribute to a better world by putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Performance Task

Presentation: Preparing for a Natural Disaster

For this performance task, students share their learning about how to stay safe during a natural disaster by unveiling their PSAs to an audience in a live launch. As part of the presentation, students unpack the emergency preparedness kit they have created and share the rationale for the practical and personal items they have chosen to include. They also distribute an emergency preparedness leaflet. This task addresses CCSS ELASL.5.4, SL.5.5, and SL.5.6.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Eight Days: A Story of Haiti
by Edwidge Danticat
1 per student
ISBN: 9780545278492


Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

ALL Block

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3-5 ELA "module lessons." Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

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