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Voices of Katrina lesson plan

OVERVIEW

One of the most significant approaches to understanding historical events is to analyze the lives of those individuals who witnessed and experienced the circumstances. Oral histories offer us the opportunity to relive historical moments through the words and voices of the people who experienced the events that not only shape their own personal histories, but also the history of a community, a state, and an entire nation. Through the assistance of the Mississippi Humanities Council and involved scholars, The Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi began recording the oral histories of Hurricane Katrina survivors not long after the storm ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast and caused destruction throughout the state. It is through these oral histories that fellow Mississippians and others can develop a greater understanding of the worst natural disaster in American history.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 3 and 4.

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12.

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article, “Voices of Katrina”

Blackboard/chalk

Overhead/transparency and pen

Paper

Pencil/pen

Computer

Internet access

OBJECTIVES

Students will analyze an oral history.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask the students the following questions and place the student responses on the board. Student responses can be recorded on the chalkboard or on an overhead transparency.

How would you define the word “survivor?” What is a survivor?

What are some of the characteristics needed to survive great obstacles or catastrophe events?

On August 29, 2005, Mississippians along the Gulf Coast as well as others throughout the entire state learned firsthand what it means to be a survivor as Hurricane Katrina came ashore. Today in class you will have an opportunity to analyze oral histories of some of the people affected by this ferocious storm.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

The teacher will allow students to work with partners in order to analyze an oral history found in this Mississippi History Now article, “Voices of Katrina.” Students can read oral histories in this article as well as listen to its audio links. The teacher may want to furnish copies of the article or specific oral histories for each student. Students can access the article at the Mississippi History Now website to listen to the audio version as they read their paper copy. Students should also access the link found in this article, which contains artwork created by Mississippi students about Hurricane Katrina.

2.

Have students copy the questions listed at the end of this article in Analyzing an Oral History onto a sheet of paper, or produce a handout for the students that contains these questions. Instruct the students to use these questions as a guide to analyze the assigned oral history.

3.

Depending upon the class size, more than one or two groups will possibly analyze the same oral history and artwork. Through class discussion, this will give an interesting basis for comparing student analysis of the oral histories.

4.

After the students have completed the analysis, the teacher will ask the groups to share their responses to these questions. As the students volunteer to share their responses from the analysis, the teacher can use responses to lead a class discussion on the experiences of the people interviewed.

CONCLUDING THE LESSON

After the class discussion, ask students to write a paragraph about how they feel about the oral histories that they have listened to and discussed today. Have they been affected in anyway by what they have discussed today in class? The teacher can ask student volunteers to share their feelings about the lesson today.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Oral History Analysis

2.

Class participation

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Allow students to collect oral histories from Katrina survivors and/or rescue personnel.

2.

Compare and contrast the effects of Hurricane Camille and Katrina.

3.

Research hurricane preparedness.

4.

Show selected excerpts from the WLOX-TV video, Katrina South Mississippi’s Story, with sensitivity to the fact students themselves may be hurricane survivors or may have relatives that were directly impacted by the storm. E-mail WLOX at wlox@wlox.com or telephone 228-896-1313 (contact information ascertained July 2006).

5.

Research the Hurricane Hunters located at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Invite one of the Hurricane Hunters to class as a guest speaker.

6.

Create a plan or ceremony to recognize the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

7.

Research the storm’s impact on various communities throughout Mississippi. Some communities may have been devastated while others may have organized relief efforts. Research the efforts of all communities.

8.

Review longitude and latitude with students using hurricane tracking maps.

9.

Research how hurricanes are formed.

ANALYZING AN ORAL HISTORY

1.

What is the name of the person that was interviewed?

2.

What is the date or time frame that the event in the oral history occurred?

3.

Where did the events in this oral history occur?

4.

List three emotions you think the person is experiencing during the interview
and/or because of their experience. What leads you to believe this?

5.

List three things the survivor said that you think are important.

6.

List two things the oral history tells you.

7.

What do you feel was one of the most difficult challenges the person faced in the situations described in the oral history?

8.

What questions does this oral history not answer that you would like to know?

9.

What information do you gain, through this oral history (primary sources), about this historical event that would not be conveyed in a history class or textbook (secondary sources)?

10.

How is an oral history important to the teaching of historical events?

11.

Choose a drawing from the children’s artwork slideshow in the “Voices of Katrina” article. Describe the picture that you chose. What do you think the child is conveying in this artwork?

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