Analyzing Literature about Natural Disasters: Human Impact | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G5:M4:U2

Analyzing Literature about Natural Disasters: Human Impact

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In Unit 2, students read short literary texts about the human impact of natural disasters. These texts include Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat, a song about the 2011 tsunami in Japan, and a poem about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on people in New Orleans. In the first half of the unit, students read the texts aloud for fluency and analyze the texts' visuals for how they contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty of the text. They also identify synonyms, antonyms, and homographs to dig deeper into the meaning of words. For the mid-unit assessment, students read and watch a video of a poem about the earthquake in Haiti and determine the meaning of words and phrases, as well as analyze the visuals for how they contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty.

In the second half of the unit, students reread the texts from the first half to analyze how the narrator's and speaker's point of view influences the way events are described in the texts. For the end of unit assessment, students reread the poem introduced in the mid-unit assessment and analyze how the speaker's point of view influences the way the events are described

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • 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.

The Four T's

  • Topic: Analyzing Literature about Natural Disasters: Human Impact
  • Task: For the mid-unit assessment, students analyze how the visuals in a video contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty of a poem. For the end of unit assessment, students analyze how the speaker's point of view in a poem influences how events are described.
  • Targets: (standards explicitly taught and assessed): RL.5.1, RL.5.2, RL.5.4, RL.5.6, RL.5.7, RF.5.4, L.5.3b, L.5.4a, and L.5.5c
  • Texts: Eight Days: A Story of Haiti, "In the Water Where the City Ends," "O' Beautiful Storm"

Assessment

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.

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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

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people by treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students continue to work to become ethical people by showing respect, empathy, and compassion for each other as they read about the human impact of natural disasters in literary texts.

Unit-at-a-Glance

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend text is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across both components of this curriculum: module lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy block. Refer to the 5M4 Module Overview for additional information.

In this unit, students continue to read research texts independently for homework, and engage in frequent research reading shares during the module lesson for accountability

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: To prepare for the Unit 2 assessments, consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 1-3, which introduce and establish routines for referring to the text to answer text-based questions and analyzing how visuals contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty of a text; and Lessons 7-8, which introduce and provide practice for analyzing how a narrator's point of view influences the way events are described. Lesson 8 also includes a Language Dive comparing and contrasting varieties of English. If necessary, consider placing less focus and condensing instruction in Lesson 4, which provides helpful background, practice, and repetition but doesn't introduce as many new concepts.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in a Language Dive in Lesson 8. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in deconstructing, reconstructing, and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from Stanza 1 of "O' Beautiful Storm" and Eight Days: A Story of Haiti. Refer to the Tools page for additional information on Language Dives.
  • Conversation Cues: Encourage productive and equitable conversation with Goals 1-4 Conversation Cues (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to the Tools page for additional information on Conversation Cues.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students explore the topic of natural disasters and the human impact they can have. Note that the poem in Lesson 4 contains religious references and acknowledge this reference in the context that some people, in times of hardship, find strength in their religious beliefs to get through it. Be sensitive to students' experiences and perspectives on these topics and foster inclusive action by creating space for students to express their feelings about issues embedded in the text, while being aware that these discussions may unearth trauma or social stigma. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion.
  • Homographs, synonyms, and antonyms: Students are introduced to homographs and review synonyms and antonyms beginning in Lesson 1, using word relationships to better understand each word. Consider reinforcing the use of word relationships by leading ELLs in the Homograph, Synonym, and Antonym Practice introduced in "levels of support" in Lesson 1 and the Mini Language Dives in Lessons 2 and 4. Additionally, consider encouraging students to notice homographs and use synonyms and antonyms to demonstrate the meaning of new words in other areas of the school day. This will provide students with a better understanding of word relationships and reduce the cognitive overload of this work in the module lessons.
  • Analyzing visuals for meaning, tone, and beauty: In the first half of the unit, students analyze how visuals contribute to the meaning, tone, and beauty of a text. Before inviting students to do so, consider explicitly working with them to develop and expand vocabulary for tone, using familiar examples to do so. Encourage ELLs to notice tone throughout the school day as well, whether it be the tone of voice someone is using to express something or the tone of a text in another content area. Invite students to add examples of tone to the Tone T-Chart introduced in Lesson 2, "For heavier support," throughout the unit as well.
  • Point of view: In the second half of the unit, students analyze how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences the way events are described in texts. In preparation for this work, remind ELLs of the work they did with point of view in Module 2 and ensure that they understand the difference between first and third person point of view. Provide concrete examples by inviting them to orally describe events that happened to them and comparing those to third person accounts of the same events. Whenever possible, model and think aloud the process for analyzing how point of view influences the way events are described to ensure students' success on the assessment.
  • Comparing and contrasting varieties of English: In the second half of the unit, students compare and contrast varieties of English via a Language Dive conversation in Lesson 8. The goal of this conversation is to celebrate the varieties of English students encounter in this unit and to deepen their understanding about the intentional language choices authors make based on purpose and audience. Whenever possible, encourage students to compare the variety of English they hear and use in the classroom to any varieties of English they hear and/or use outside of the classroom.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual assets that ELLs bring to the classroom

Texts to Buy

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


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

Materials

  • Ensure that families are aware of the sensitive content of the texts and videos and prepare students who may be affected by this context in advance.
  • Prepare the technology necessary to watch online videos in Lessons 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9, whole group and individually or in smaller groups (e.g., one device per triad).

Technology and Multimedia

  • Ready.gov - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about preparing for a natural disaster.
  • Red Cross: Prepare for Emergencies - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about preparing for a natural disaster.
  • "The Importance of Being Prepared for a Natural Disaster" - Additional reading and research: Students read an additional text about preparing for a natural disaste

Additional Language and Literacy 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.

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions

Community: 

  • Invite members of the community, family members, or teachers to come into the classroom to share their personal stories about natural disasters.

Experts: 

  • Invite scientists with expertise on natural disasters, particularly those relevant to the local area, to come into the classroom to talk to the students about them.

Fieldwork:

  • Visit a natural disasters exhibition at a local museum.
  • Visit an area affected by a natural disaster.

Service:

  • Share PSAs with other classes in the school.
  • Share PSAs with local radio/TV stations.
  • Create emergency preparedness kits for classrooms in school.
  • Create emergency preparedness kits for local community organizations or families in need.
  • Organize fundraising projects to raise money for an area affected by a natural disaster.
  • Collect necessary supplies to send to an area affected by a natural disaster.

Extension:

  • Students research local history about natural disasters.
  • Students create posters for the local community about how to prepare for a natural disaster.

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