Lesson Plan

Huge Mistakes that Led to Catastrophe

Students examine how other great mistakes in history affected mankind and caused change in the world.
Jamie S.
Instructional coach
Duquesne Elementary School
Duquesne, PA
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math
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Students will be able to...

create presentations to communicate their research with their classmates.
understand the importance of acknowledging sources for information as well as digital images.
create a correctly formatted bibliography.
analyze the details of various human-made disasters through comparing and contrasting the events.

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 5 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Watch the short You tube video on the 12 Facts about the Titanic. 


Discuss with class who is blamed for the disaster? Include background information about those involved, such as what motivated these people to act, etc?  Describe in detail what happened, providing as many facts as possible. 

2 Guided Practice

Divide the students into groups of three. Give each group one copy of the human-made disaster Note taking Sheet and instruct them to complete the sheet for the Titanic. Together go through the answers. Project the form on the whiteboard and complete it using the students’ answers.
Explain to the class that now they will be researching a human-made disaster on their own and then sharing their findings with the class. Ask the class about the differences between a human-made disaster and a natural disaster. Be sure to cover the following points in the human-made disaster definition:

Human-made is caused by humans.
It may involve a deliberate action, such as murdering a President or planning a terrorist attack.
It may be caused from error in judgment, such as building a wall to separate a city.
It may be a result of neglect, such as an engineering mistake.

Hand out the List of Human-made Disasters. Then instruct students to choose which human-made disaster they would like to research. Explain to students they will also compare and contrast their disasters, and therefore, each student will research a different disaster.

3 Independent Practice

In groups, allow students to search online for more information  about their disaster.  Students will organize information gained using Inspiration Maps.  Remind them to evaluate Web sites before taking notes. Ask students to check for the following on a Web page:

Who wrote the Web page?
What makes that person/organization an authority?
What was the purpose of writing the page? Look at the domain for a hint.
Where did the author get his information?
Why should you use this site for this particular project?

Also, remind students how to cite Web pages by covering where to find the following items:

Web page title
Web site title

Monitor the students as they research, noting time on task and checking for any inaccuracies on their maps. Check that students are citing their sources and help those who are having trouble with this task. Help those students who are having trouble finding information.
Encourage students to continue to research outside of the class time.

4 Wrap Up

Free, Paid
Free, Paid

Students will work in groups, using PowToon to make a presentation of their research findings.  While students work, check on their accuracy of information. Question students about which pictures they have selected and why these pictures represent their disaster. Offer feedback on their layout and choices as they work. Also, remind students that their presentations need to include a slide for the bibliography. Presentations will be presented to the class and information shared.