January 12 - 50's Pulp Sci-Fi

Today was the first day of our unit on natural disasters.  Our Central Idea is Understanding the Earths natural processes can help humans respond to natural disasters.  I have been excited for this unit as it will be very heavy on Earth science and Eco-literacy.  Hopefully we can build on our understanding of the Earth and start to notice some of the patterns and systems that exist in the great web of life on Earth.

We started our learning with a simple look at the central idea.  I decided that this would be mostly a talk based diagnostic assessment.  The class was broken up into smaller groups and then I asked a series of questions based on the Central Idea.  What are the Earths Processes?  What are some of the ways that Humans prepare for Natural Disasters?  Can we stop Natural Disasters?  Why are Natural Disasters important to the Earth?  During this whole process I was circulating the room and listening to the talk and taking notes.  I was also writing down any interesting questions I heard come.  I made sure that I did not get involved at all in the discussion, but rather it was a chance for them to share their knowledge on the subject; whether it be factually correct or not.

The next step was to ask questions and build our Wonderwall.  Each child was given a sticky note, and they had to write questions on it and post them on the board.  We then read the questions out-loud and tried to classify them.  I will return to these questions through-out the unit and hopefully try and answer all of them.  Here are two of my favorites:

  • Do Tsunamis move with the rotation of the Earth?

  • Are there Natural Disasters on other planets?


Once we had our Wonderwall complete, we broke into different groups.  I asked them to make a list of ten natural disasters.  Much to my surprise, most of them came up with lists that were much longer than ten!  Once they had pared their lists down to a workable ten, I then asked them, in groups using consensus decision making strategies, to rank the disasters from 1 to 10 in terms of their danger to Humans.  This was an interesting activity.  I love ranking activities, as they really get kids to think hard about their reasons, and it forces them to explain them to the group.  Once that was done, we put all the lists and had a class discussion comparing them.



We then moved onto some Art integration.  I showed them a bunch of amazing movie posters from 1950's pop sci-fi films, and we analyzed them for commonalities.  We found three main points:

  • A scary sounding title

  • A over-the-top catchphrase

  • Sensationalist Visuals


Once we had our three aspects of our criteria, we used it to get to work and make a poster advertising a movie about one of the natural disasters we brainstormed earlier.  We then put these up on the wall to start our UOI board.  Eventually, I plan to have all of our learning branching off from these posters.

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