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Graphic novels offer an engaging way to introduce complex topics to students while also providing an opportunity for meaningful discussion. I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 by Lauren Tarshis is a powerful graphic novel about the struggles of one family during Hurricane Katrina. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the best ways to teach this novel in the classroom.
Know Your Material: Before teaching any book, it’s important to know the material and understand its themes. I Survived Hurricane Katrina follows middle school year old boy named Barry as he and his family navigate their way through New Orleans during one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history. The story not only deals with some of the challenges faced by those who experienced Hurricane Katrina first-hand but also presents broader themes of courage, perseverance, and strength in times of adversity. It is important that educators have a solid understanding of these big ideas before introducing them to students so they can lead meaningful conversations around them in class.
Creating a Classroom Discussion
Before diving into the book itself, it’s important to create some background knowledge for your students. Start by asking questions such as “What is a hurricane?” and “What is the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?” This will help build their understanding of what they are about to read and will help prepare them to ask meaningful questions later on. Afterward, you can move on to discussing Hurricane Katrina specifically—where it occurred, when it occurred, how many people were affected by it, etc. Once your students have some context established in their minds, they can begin reading the book with more insight.
Prepare Discussion Questions Once you feel confident with your understanding of the material, it’s time to prepare discussion questions for your students. Discussion questions should be thoughtfully crafted so as to promote thoughtful dialogue amongst your students and encourage them to think critically about the concepts presented in I Survived Hurricane Katrina. Some sample questions include: What was Barry’s biggest challenge during Hurricane Katrina? How did Barry’s experience differ from that of other people affected by the hurricane? What lessons can readers learn from Barry’s journey?
Create Engaging Activities: The most effective way to ensure that your students are truly engaged with a text is through meaningful activities designed around its key concepts. For example, after reading I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005, students could create an interactive timeline or chart detailing significant events from Barry’s journey. This would give them an opportunity to apply what they have learned while reinforcing key facts and themes from the novel. Another activity could involve creating a poster featuring quotes from Barry or other characters throughout his story; this would allow students to reflect on how each character dealt with their challenges throughout the novel and draw connections between their experiences and their own lives.
This graphic novel offers several opportunities for teachers to explore various topics with their students. For example, teachers can lead discussions on topics such as resilience, community building, environmental awareness/conservation, and more depending on what themes they want to emphasize in their classrooms. Additionally, teachers could have students complete individual or group projects that analyze media coverage related to Katrina or create art pieces inspired by Barry’s story.
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The beauty of this particular graphic novel lies in its ability to combine visuals with text in order to tell its story. As you guide your class through the book, try using visuals such as maps or photos from the time period to enhance their understanding of what they are reading. For example, you could show pictures of ruined buildings or displaced residents in order to give your students a better idea of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. You could also use graphics or diagrams to explain how hurricanes form and how they interact with different landforms along coastlines—all while referencing key moments from, I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 as examples!
Finally, once your class has finished reading the book together (or individually), end with a discussion about resilience. Ask questions like “Why was it so important for main character Barry not to give up after his family got separated during Hurricane Katrina?” or “What does it mean for someone or something to be resilient?” These types of conversations will help encourage critical thinking about bigger concepts such as courage and perseverance—concepts that may come into play during other difficult situations throughout life.
By following these guidelines, educators can easily use Lauren Tarshis’ graphic novel I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 as a tool for teaching in their classrooms. Not only does this novel offer a captivating story about courage and hope in tough times but it also provides educators with an effective platform for discussing relevant topics such as natural disasters and resilience with their students. Knowing your material well and preparing thoughtful discussion questions are essential steps towards effectively teaching this powerful graphic novel in class!
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