Muddling through the blogosphere

August 27, 2011
by blogwalker

Eye of the Storm: Resources for Teaching about Hurricanes

As I listen to the news on Hurricane Irene, I’m guessing many teachers will be looking for resources to teach about Irene specifically and hurricanes/cyclones in general. So here is my starting list:


  • Hurricane Irene: 12 Ways to Track the Storm Online – Amazing (“terrifying beautiful”) views of Irene from space.
  • Irene Roars Up the Coast – Excellent infographic from the Washington Post.
  • USA Today’s Resources: Hurricanes – Resources include a section on “Graphics to Help You Understand Hurricanes.”
  • National Hurricane Center – Good starting point for tracking current hurricane activity.
  • From Thinkfinity – If you’re looking for lessons on teaching about hurricanes, here comes – a great collection of lessons, with descriptors and grade levels included. There are several more resources that will come up on a Thinkfinity search on “hurricanes” that are not listed on the above site:
    • From Thinkfinity’s Science Netlinks partnership, I like the e-Sheet lesson (for grades 3-5) on Tracking Hurricanes. The lesson includes a link to the National Hurricane Center’s DAS Tropical Cyclone Tracker – from which you can even link to the option of viewing the map in Google Earth.
    • Also from Science Netlinks, via the Thinkfinity search engine, I like the Science of Hurricanes lesson, which provides archived NASA video footage on Hurricane Andrew.
    • From National Geographic, via the Thinkfinity search engine, I really like the What Happened to Whom lesson (for grades 6-8). The lesson has a link to another National Geographic lesson: Stormy Stories.  I think too often for our students, it’s hard to relate to the horrific scale of natural disasters because the numbers are simply too huge, too exponential to relate to.  Here’s where the story of one child providing a personal account of a disaster can really help students relate to the human cost – and truly develop empathy for those who have lived through a natural disaster.
    • From Read/Write/Think (one of my favorite Thinkfinity partners), a lesson to help students to explore the nature and structure of expository texts that focus on cause and effect: Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Text about Natural Disasters (for grades 3-5).
  • Exploring Weather – “A comprehensive website that explores all of the different kinds of weather from hurricanes to winter storms.”  The Hurricanes page, for example, includes general information, charts, animations, and graphics, including the one below (for grades 3-8):

Image from

… This storm is poised to affect millions of us, all up and down the East Coast.  So here’s the invitation part…

Write or draw something as the storm passes through.  Maybe by flashlight or candlelight while the power is out…maybe in between trips downstairs to bail out the basement. And then, let’s gather all that writing and art together to see what people created  as Hurricane Irene passed through.” (for ALL grades!)

If you have any resources to add, please post a comment!

My thoughts are with my East Coast friends as we move through the weekend.  I’m crossing my fingers that Irene will head away from populated areas, fizzle out, and thousands of people can safely wish Irene Good Night.

March 21, 2010
by blogwalker

Teaching Social Studies – When do we let students in on the “great secret”?

On of the upsides of being a commuter is that I can start my day by listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation. I’m still thinking about Thursday’s topic, Do Your Textbooks Tilt? Neal Conan hosted the show, with New York University history professor Jonathan Zimmerman leading the textbook discussion, and sharing some gems along the way, such as:

  • history is a series of question marks
  • what historians really do is present arguments
  • so when are we going to expose students to the what historians really do? When are we going to let them in on the “great secret.”?..we don’t actually know what happened when talking about events we did not witness.

With Professor Zimmerman’s words on my mind, I paid more attention this week to social studies resources that came into my reader or email this week – and found some excellent ones:

Politics and Civic Literacy for the Digital Generation – Wow! Great resources for teachers, gathered from a number of sites, such as the this challenge-based learning video from the Apple Exchange on what voting is all about to the video below from the YouTube Safety team, Detecting Lies and Staying True:

And if you want to use your phone for keeping current on anything from White House press briefings to C-span’s Podcast of the Week, checkout the Taking It Mobile link.

Smithsonian Education – I’ve been a long-time fan of “our Nation’s attic,” and include their royalty-free, copyright-free photo gallery in my teacher workshops. I re-visited their site this morning after coming across the link in my Edutopia Magazine.  I really like how the Smithsonian has divided the site into easy-to-navigate and inviting mini sites for teachers, students, and families.  The IdeaLabs area for students includes some great annotated slideshows, such as rationing during World War II.

Object of History – but wait…there’s even more from the Smithsonian – Through my subscription to  Thinkfinity, this new resource from the museum came into my email yesterday:

A highly interactive Web site, Object of History, takes middle and high school students behind the scenes with curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to explore six objects from the museum’s collections. Students watch videos, listen to historians and curators and then create their own online exhibition. Resources include videos, interviews, primary sources, virtual artifacts and lesson plans.”

Complete with a teacher guide, a forum, and student and teacher walk-through tutorials, what a great resource for helping students get “ready, set, curate!

Heading off to download 60-Second Civics Podcasting🙂

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