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?
This short lesson plan is designed to be facilitated in 15 minutes. As an extension activity, students can write an essay about the question, "What can photographers and journalists do to ensure they tell stories about natural disasters in a useful, respectful way?" using one or both of the attached resources as a case study.