ALEX Lesson Plan

Natural Disasters

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Lauren Wallace
System: Tuscumbia City
School: R E Thompson Intermediate School
The event this resource created for:Alabama Technology in Motion
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35937


Natural Disasters


Each student becomes an expert on a natural disaster, investigating and discovering how they can prepare for it.  Students initially create traditional motivational posters using paper, pencils, markers, and crayons.  Then, students create an electronic version to motivate others to prepare for natural disasters.  Next, students create storyboards/scripts and digital stories on a natural disaster of their choosing to inform others of ways to prepare for natural disasters. 

This lesson was created as part of a collaboration between Alabama Technology in Motion and ALEX.  

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 3
Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
9 ) Identify ways to prepare for natural disasters.

Examples: constructing houses on stilts in flood-prone areas, buying earthquake and flood insurance, providing hurricane or tornado shelters, establishing emergency evacuation routes

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.3.9- Participate in a classroom discussion about different types of natural disasters and ways to prepare for them.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 3
13) Communicate key ideas and details collaboratively in a way that informs, persuades, and/or entertains, using digital tools.

Example: Create a digital presentation to persuade school administrators to allow additional time for lunch.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 3
16) Conduct basic keyword searches to produce valid, appropriate results, and evaluate results for accuracy, relevance, and appropriateness.

Examples: Use search techniques, check for credibility and validity.

Local/National Standards:

ISTE Standards for Students:

Knowledge Constructor

3a) Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.

3b) Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.

3c) Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.  

3d) Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.


Creative Communicator

6b) Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.  

Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • I can identify and describe natural disasters.
  • I can describe ways to be responsible during natural disasters.
  • I can research and put my websites on Symbaloo for others to utilize and see.  
  • I can motivate others to be responsible during natural disasters by creating motivational posters.
  • I can inform others of ways to prepare for natural disasters by creating a script/storyboard and a digital story on a natural disaster of my choosing.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

  • I can communicate and collaborate with others. 
  • I can explain how I can be responsible in everyday life.
  • I can utilize graphic organizers, and I can upload the graphic organizers to SeeSaw by taking pictures and using voice narration. 
  • I can create pencil and paper motivational posters and electronic motivational posters.  
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Technology Resources Needed:

  • Research Tools such as desktop computer, Chromebook, laptop, or iPad


Students should be able to have some basic internet keyword searching skills.  Students should also have the ability to identify key concepts and details from the text.  Teachers should have some use or familiarity in SeeSaw (allows students to create a digital portfolio using pictures with narration or videos), Adobe Spark (allows users to create online and mobile designs through the use of images, videos, and web pages), Google Sites (allows users to create and publish personalized websites), Jing (allow users to screencast on a computer by taking a picture or video of the user’s computer screen and uploading it), Screencast-O-Matic (allows users to screencast on a computer by taking a video of the user’s computer screen), WeVideo (allows users to capture, create, view, edit, and share movies), Google Docs (allows users to create and edit text documents in their web browsers), Symbaloo (allows users to create a personal start page that contains their favorite sites all in one interface), and FlipGrid (allows teachers to create questions that students respond to through recorded videos).


Before Strategy/Engage: 

Pose the Essential Question to students, How can I be responsible? (Students are answering the question relating to their responsibilities in all ways of life.)  Have the students turn and talk with partners to share their thinking.  After a few minutes, have a few volunteers share what they discussed with their partner to the class.  Give partners another chance to turn and talk a second time.  This time have students use a graphic organizer to organize their thinking while talking and sharing with their partner.  The graphic organizer will be a "Main Idea Tree."  The students will list How can I be responsible? as the main idea.  Then, the students can list ways they can be responsible in the details section (trunk section of the tree).  Tell students to brainstorm examples of things that relate to the Essential Question, How can I be responsible?  Ask students to think of things that happen every day in their lives.  After completing their graphic organizers, students will use the SeeSaw app to take a picture of their graphic organizer and share it on the class journal.  SeeSaw has a feature that allows students to use voice narration to explain the examples they placed on the graphic organizer.  Students are encouraged to work on this portion of the assignment in collaborative teams.


During Strategy/Explore/Explain:

Activity 1- Research

As a class, discuss the question, “How can I motivate others to prepare for a natural disaster?”  After discussing this question, students will conduct research on the question.  Students will use a research tool to conduct research in collaborative groups.  Students will use Symbaloo to bookmark the websites/pages they find during research.  Here are some links that students may utilize to find information on natural disasters and on preparedness:

Next, students will use their research to create motivational posters focusing on natural disasters.  Explain to students that it is similar to an ad in a newspaper.  For example, you might see an ad convincing someone to buy a product.  Tell the students they are making a poster to motivate people to prepare for natural disasters.  After completing their paper posters, students will then turn their paper posters into electronic posters.  Students will use Adobe Spark to create their poster.  If necessary, give students an example of a motivational poster for reference.   

Students will also share their electronic posters on the Google Sites after completion.  The class will share one Google Site, so the teacher will upload the electronic poster after the students have completed it.  


Activity 2- Digital Story

After students have gathered their information and research, they will create a digital story about a natural disaster.  They will select one natural disaster to focus on.  They can utilize the research they have already gathered from the first activity, or they can find a book online or in the library to create a digital story. Pose the question, “How can I inform others to prepare for a natural disaster?”  Students will use information from their research to answer this question.  First, students must create a storyboard/script that has information about their selected natural disaster.  They may work independently or with a partner.  After students have completed their storyboard/script, they will start on their digital story. Here is an example of a storyboard/script that can be shared with the students as an example of what is expected. Students have a choice of using Screencast-O-Matic, Jing, or WeVideo to record their digital story. Here is an example of a digital story that can be shared with the class so the students will know what is expected of them.  Depending on the abilities of the students, different degrees of support and scaffolding may be needed.  Teachers in learner-centered classrooms should provide students with as much choice as possible while they are creating their products.  After students have finished their digital story, the teacher will add the student-created videos to a class Google Site.  The class Google Site link can be shared with parents and the school.  


After Strategy/Explain, Elaborate:

Revisit the question, “How can I be responsible?” Have students post a reflection on a teacher-created FlipGrid page on additional ways they can be prepared for natural disasters they may not have discussed in activity 2.  Encourage students to return to FlipGrid to watch their classmates’ responses in order to promote long-term retention of the information. 


Assessment Strategies

Graphic organizer- used for formative assessment

Motivational posters- used as summative assessment

Storyboard/Script Example- used to scaffold student creation of a digital story script and storyboard

Digital Story Example- used to scaffold student creation of a digital story using information they discovered during the research of the lesson

Storyboard/Script & Digital Story- used as summative assessment to assess if the students informed others of ways to prepare for natural disasters 


Students can research the steps someone would take to buy earthquake or flood insurance.  They could make a plan, including the steps. 


Students can draw and design a tornado shelter.  They can list items they would need inside the tornado shelter and tell why those items would be important.  


Discuss emergency school plans with students before the lesson.


Students can find items in magazines that they would need in a tornado shelter.  Then, they can cut those items out of the magazine and glue them onto a poster. 

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.