What Is A Disaster? (Part 1/2)

18 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT research and share characteristics of disasters.

Big Idea

Looking at natural disasters, old and new, students collaborate as they research the characteristics of disasters and then share a presentation with their peers.

Bell Ringer-What Are Key Words That Would Be Used To Develop A Question?

5 minutes

What are keywords that would be used to develop a question?

A Bell Ringer is an opportunity to engage all students in the lesson. It is a strategy that activates prior knowledge and engages students in the lesson. A Bell Ringer should be an active strategy to help you understand your students understanding of the concepts.

I ask students to use their white board and dry erase marker. I prompt them by asking, "What are keywords that would be used to develop a question?" Some answers I am looking for include: who, what, when, where, why, how, can, could, and/or would.

I provide three (3) minutes for students to work with their partner to create a list of research questions about disasters. These questions should be global questions that could apply to any type of disaster. I ask students to write the Questions on the whiteboard. I take one (1) minute to share answers with the class and draw a variety of students into the discussion by using popsicle sticks to randomly call on them. 

Examples of student developed questions are:

  • How does the disaster start?
  • How could disasters affect us today?
  • Where do they occur?
  • How many disasters happen in an average year?
  • What triggers a disaster?
  • How can we prevent disasters?


Optional: You could have students use a pencil and paper, tablet, iPad, Chromebook, or Science Notebook to record their answers.

Research Natural Diasters

30 minutes

This lesson focuses on the CCSS W7.7 which states students will conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. I ask students to conduct a short research project focused on questions they develop about a disaster. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the content in their presentation on day #2 of the lesson.

NGSS SP#1 Ask Questions and Define Problems is addressed in this lesson. I ask students to develop questions, establish what they already know about disasters, and determine what questions need to be answered.

The goal of this lesson is for students to research one type of natural disaster and share characteristics and facts about that disaster. I create a List of Natural Disasters and ask each group to pick one disaster, which will determine the focus of their research. In collaboration with their partner(s), I ask students to form and use the research questions they have developed about their natural disaster. 

I take 2 minutes to discuss presentation options with the class. I allow a variety of presentation tools to be used including: Google Presentations, PowerPoint, video, live play, poster, or Prezi. These options are discussed with the class, but there are others including: BitStrips, Poplet (app), iMovie, Book Creator (app), Explain Everything (app), and Strip Design (app).

Note: Each lesson in this unit, Master Disaster, works towards mastery of the NGSS MS-ESS 3-2 which states students will analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.