Tsunami: Teaching Guide
Overview of Process and Constituent Learning Tasks
In this course, students work through three successively richer phases of engagement with text, rich media and activities about tsunami. A mission/game framework situates learning about tsunami both as an interesting adventure and as an act of social responsibility. This cross-curriculum unit challenges students to build an understanding of tsunami as a physical phenomenon, a social phenomenon, an opportunity to develop a sense of personal power and agency, and an opportunity for personal and community preparedness.
Analysis of the role of specific learning tasks and activities (within the larger course structure) can be downloaded here.
The intended audience for this course is middle school students world-wide aged approximately 11-14 years (years 7-10 in New Zealand). This audience has an English proficiency within or near the literacy level years 5-8 (ages 9-13) in the New Zealand curriculum. The intended audience is able to access the course online and may also be attending classes in a school setting. To support this, developed materials can be used to resource a class room type learning environment or as a stand alone, interactive learning module suitable for home schooling, self-directed learning, supervised extension etc. Some of the activities require students to use equipment from around their environment.
The materials will however be able to be tailored for use in other countries since a) tsunami can occur in any coastal area world-wide and b) the course materials have been developed for world-wide distribution via the Internet. The materials can also be adapted for use with younger or older age groups of students by modifying learning activities so that students use and develop cognitive skills that are appropriate for those age groups. Further suggestions for adaption can be found in the following section of this teaching guide: Suggestions for Adaptation And Other Uses
Links to NZ Curriculum Objectives
The following Level 4 Achievement Objectives of the New Zealand Curriculum are relevant to this course:
Investigating in science
A three-stage structure lets students develop their knowledge, working in groups on various activities to build understanding. Students investigate the physical forces involved in tsunami. For example, group activity experiment invites students to simulate a small-scale tsunami and share their observations with other groups both within and beyond their class.
Communicating in science
International standard tsunami warning signage and appropriate technical vocabulary are introduced and used consistently throughout the unit.
Participating and contributing [in science]
Students develop disaster preparedness planning for themselves and their communities.
[From the Science Achievement Objectives: ‘Nature of Science’]
Understand that events have causes and effects.
The causes and effects of tsunami, and possible minimising or mitigating strategies for tsunami damage, are explored. Tsunami are presented as a catastrophic event in the life of a community, and students are encouraged to develop a sense of agency as well as explicit preparedness for such a disaster in their community.
[From the Social Sciences Achievement Objectives: ‘Social Studies’]
[From the Arts Achievement Objectives: ‘Visual Arts’]
[From the English Achievement Objectives: ‘Speaking, writing and presenting’]
Students are encouraged to respond empathically and artistically to the experiences of those who have lived through tsunami. They are invited to share their constructed understanding about the physical processes associated with tsunami, and to report on their own experimental observations. These opportunities for creative and factual response can be used to assess students’ interpretation and expression of ideas.
Phase 1, 2 and 3 teacher support
Detailed session plans for each of the 3 phases can be found in the file below.
Discussion spaces within and beyond your class
While this unit is designed to be accessible to a range of student situations, including self-directed study, certain components of the course aim to provide avenues and ideas for class teachers as they adapt this unit of study for their context. One element that aims at serving both of these interests is the occasional strategic links to discussion threads outside of Wiki Educator.
At certain stages of the course you may notice a discussion link. Each of these discussion links leads to a page on http://tsunamiwiki.wikispaces.com where questions and starters are given related to the activity of the corresponding Wiki Educator page. For example, in page 1.1.3 of the WikiEducator Tsunami unit, the students can complete a short quiz; the discussion link on this page connects to a wikispace discussion thread that gives students an opportunity to talk about the quiz experience and share their views with other students taking the course currently and in the future.
While each of the links provided on the course pages take the user directly to the relevant discussion thread, there is also a directory in the main page of http://tsunamiwiki.wikispaces.com, which provides links to each discussion thread and parallel links back to the corresponding Wiki Educator pages.
The wikispaces discussion space is especially well suited for connecting with other teachers and classes who are using this unit.
List of wikispaces discussion links within WikiEducator course
Alternative discussion spaces, online and offline
As the class teacher, you are most welcome to introduce these discussion links to your students and have them take part in discussion with other classes and with students who are working through the course on their own. If you would prefer to keep the discussions within your class then you might consider recreating the same discussion threads
where your students can interact with their classmates online (instead of clicking on the links in Wiki Educator, your students would simply open the relevant thread in your class wikispace or other forum in each case).
If you are planning to run the course offline, or aim to emphasise vocal discussion in the classroom, you might also consider using the questions posed in these discussion links as a basis for vibrant discussions in the classroom.
Suggestions for Adaptation and Other Uses
Rationale for Teaching and Learning Time
As this course is primarily designed for the online learner its aim has been to minimise the number of instances of pure ‘click and read’ learning and include as much authentic interactivity and practical application of knowledge opportunities as possible. Preparing for emergencies such as tsunami requires knowledge of the hazard itself and an understanding of how the hazard ‘works’ and the implications it has for communities. This content must be conveyed in an engaging and interactive manner with the student provided enough time to pause, think and consider the information they have just read about, viewed or listened to.
Some learning tasks are introduced online but are in fact completed offline. For these learning tasks particularly, teacher guidance or facilitation time is required. Teacher guidance/facilitation will increase significantly when suggestions for delivering or adapting this course for offline delivery are employed. For ‘class mode extension activities’ (links provided in Suggestions for Adaptation And Other Uses table), teacher guidance and some degree of preparation, as noted in each guide, is essential for effective facilitation of these collaborative activities. Time allotted to extension activities in class is over and above time estimates provided for the course in Session plans and the estimated totals provided below.
A practical approach has been taken to learning tasks in all three phases of this course. Students are provided opportunities to apply their knowledge through a range of practical learning tasks which are aimed at preparing students adequately for a tsunami.
Approximate total learning time required: 22
(Teaching time does not include time spent marking assessment.)
Assessments (formative and summative): overview, rationale and marking criteria
The formally identified formative assessment activities for this course are the multichoice quizzes in Phases 1 & 2. Successful completion of these activities will indicate that learners have effectively constructed an understanding of how to identify tsunami and the impacts of tsunami, both factors which enable and motivate preparedness. These quizzes are self-marking, but marking keys are given in the suggestions for adaptation section under the relevant lessons. (Many activities within the course could be adapted for use as assessments: see this section for suggestions.)
The summative assessment activities for this course involve:
The summative assessment criteria for each learning objective are detailed in this file (click to download): Summative assessment criteria
Relationship Between Audience, Views of Learning, Pedagogy, Learning Tasks and Assessment
The links below are to authoritative sources that were referred to in the development of this course:
Kearsley, G. (28 September 2010). The Theory Into Practice Database. Retrieved from http://tip.psychology.org