Teaching Sandy in the Classroom

Reflecting over Hurricane Sandy allows students to learn about journalism, meteorology, and more.

When schools head back on Monday, many East Coast students will have gone through experiences that range from the traumatic to inconvenient. Regardless, the experience will have been a vivid one for students throughout the region, making it an incredibly potent teaching tool for any number of subjects.

The New York Times Blog, The Learning Network put together a really smart list of subjects and techniques for getting the most out of Sandy's resonance in the classroom. Here are some ideas from the New York Times and our own noodles:

Have students write personal essays about their experiences

The science of hurricanes

There are some great videos about hurricanes from EarthLab about hurricanes, heat and barometric pressure. The Times also presented this great resource from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Hurricane Sandy and the 2012 Election

How will Sandy affect the national election? Should election day be extended for citizens living in areas hobbled by Sandy? You could also use this as a jumping off point to discuss national, state, and local government in general.

Social Media Literacy

The Times discusses the millions of Instagram photos that were posted during the Sandy, some of which were fraudulent. Another take would be to talk about the tweeter @comfortablysmug who tweeted several false reports during Hurricane Sandy. Because reporters were using twitter as a source of breaking news, much of it generated by individuals' firsthand experience, about the hurricane the false tweets were picked up by major news outlets before being proven false. This would make an opinion essay topic or a lesson in the ethical uses of social media.

Teach students around the country about Sandy

Students around the country and the world will be curious to learn about Sandy. Using ePals, you can match your students up with e-penpals across the country to share their experiences or Sandy-related lessons.

Here are a few more ideas we came up with this afternoon:

Public journalism during disasters

Why is journalism so important during disasters like a hurricane? With many residents out of power and internet during the hurricane, families turned to hand-powered radios, NPR, and WNYC for news about what was going on in the outside world. Since the story, many have looked to the New York Times to keep informed about recovery efforts and changes in the last few days. As a resident of Greenpoint, Brooklyn during the storm, my best source of information came from a local news outlet, greenpointers.com. What can we do protect local, public news sources in future? Why are they so important in local catastrophes like a hurricane?

Meteorology, satellites and storm tracking

NASA and NOAA are producing some really interesting visuals of Sandy, including some really cool satellite images of the view inside Sandy. Use these images to discuss meteorology and how satellites work and why they're so important for forecasting weather in general. Today's Science Friday program on NPR has a wealth of information about our satellites and how Sandy links to climate change. There's also a really beautiful wind map visualization here.

Wildlife during hurricanes

What happens to fish, birds, and other animals during big hurricanes? **

Check out more ideas at The Learning Network and let us know how you're teaching Sandy in the classroom!

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