I show students pictures of flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina. I give them 5 minutes to do a quick write to express how they would feel if they were to experience what they see in the photos. I tell them to write about their feelings, worries, concerns, fears, etc. I found the use of pictures of the extreme damage and destruction of Hurricane Katrina to be an effective hook for students. Allowing them to express their feelings through writing set a serious tone for today's lesson. After students share their quick writes, I explain to them that Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest, most destructive hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. The Atlantic Hurricane season which the U.S.A. experiences lasts from June 1 to November 30. Hurricanes are categorized based on the strength of wind speed from F1 to F5, which F5 being the strongest. Hurricane Katrina strengthened over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to an F5 category, but was an F3 hurricane by the time it made landfall. Hurricanes gain strength over warm water and diminish in strength once they make landfall. I tell students there are various types of storms (i.e., thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.). Today, we will examine hurricanes, specifically Hurricane Andrew through a close read. I explain to them that a hurricane is a cyclonic storm which forms over water. Hurricane Andrew was a category 5 hurricane that hit the U.S. in August of 1992.
Prior to the lesson, I have students to read "Eye of the Storm" by Stephen Kramer and note any questions they have as they read. I selected this text as a piece of complex text for my 4th grader because of its Lexile level of 990L. The attached Powerpoint includes teacher-generated questions we discussed during the close read of "Eye of the Storm" by Stephen Kramer. I also allowed students an opportunity to ask their student-generated questions, as well. I find it to be an imperative instructional strategy of allowing students multiple opportunities to read a passage of text and generate their own questions. Their questions are usually quite insightful and often differ from my questions.
Keeping in line with student-led inquiry and questions, I have students write 3 interview questions they would ask a storm survivor. Then, they role play with a partner to ask each other the interview questions and respond from the perspective of a storm survivor. I have found interviewing to be a great way for students to learn new information, understand another person's point of view, and appreciate the diversity of people's feelings, ideas, and experiences.
To close the lesson, I ask students to explain to me what is the eye of a storm. They tell me the eye of the storm is the calm center area of a hurricane. Students, then, write a 5 sentence paragraph summary. I remind them that the first sentence is the topic sentence which states the main idea. Sentences 2, 3, and 4 are sentences which tell supporting details 1 through 3. The last sentence is the conclusion. This activity is important because summarizing requires that my students tell the most important information from a text. It also requires that they be able to differentiate the most important, broad, big idea as compared to supporting details. I explain to them that good summaries should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Be sure to continue the unit with the next lesson - A Close Read About Superstorm Sandy.