In this unit, students will read several pieces of short fiction that are set in a time and place where a natural disaster is occurring. Throughout the unit they will discuss the guiding question: “What can literature about natural disasters teach us about their impact on the people who experience them?” Students will first read the picture book Eight Days: A Story of Haiti, and discuss text-dependent questions to infer about the impact of this disaster on the characters in the story. They will then collaborate to write a shared literary analysis essay that focuses on the narrator’s point of view to infer about how this influences how events are described in the text. Students will then analyze imagery and figurative language in the text to determine how these elements contribute to the meaning of the story. Next, students will read a short story titled “Save Bella!” about the experience of a boy and his pet dog during Hurricane Katrina. With this text, too, they will continue to build their understanding of the impact of natural disasters on the lives of the people who survive them.
Students will then more independently analyze the text and write a short essay on how a narrator’s point of view influences the description of events before, during, and after the hurricane. For the mid-unit assessment, students will read a new piece of short fiction, “In the Middle of the Storm,” about Hurricane Sandy, and demonstrate their ability to read, analyze, and write about a narrator’s point of view and its influence on the description of events. Afterward, students will read about the perspectives of the authors who wrote the texts they have read and infer about how the background of an author affects his or her perspective on a natural disaster. They will also synthesize their thinking about the guiding question through written reflection and discussion. Finally, for the end of unit assessment, students will read about the perspective of another author and, as an optional arts integration, consider their own perspective on the impact of natural disasters on survivors through a piece of artwork.