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Lesson Plan January 3, 2018

Documenting Disasters: Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in the News [15 minutes]


1. What is a natural disaster? What natural disasters have been in the news recently?

2. What do you usually see/hear in a news story about natural disasters? [Teacher: Write down student answers at the front of the class.]

3. View the two sets of photos (above) and read the captions. The first set (photos 1-3) is from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The second set (photos 4-6) is from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

4. Both of these photo sets show the aftermath of a hurricane that struck in 2017, but they tell different stories. Turn and talk with a classmate. In 2 minutes, be prepared to answer:

  • How are the photos from Hurricane Maria similar to the photos from Hurricane Harvey? How are they different?
  • How do the journalists use captions to tell different stories with their photos?

5. Discuss as a class:

  • Why do you think the journalists decided to tell the stories of these hurricanes so differently?
  • Do images of natural disasters help or exploit their victims? What can photographers and journalists do to ensure they tell stories about natural disasters in a useful, respectful way? What lessons can we learn from these photos?
  • What can you do to read stories about natural disasters in a useful, respectful way?

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