Sunday, March 13, 2011

Watching an Earthquake and a Tsunami

It is only by coincidence that we started our study of Japan and its geography the day before the greatest earthquake in that country’s history hit. On Friday, my classroom was electric with student interest in the earthquake’s effects and the devastation of the tsunami. On the bulletin board I have my War Lords of Japan maps up ready to begin team competition. One of the team’s names will be Sendai. However, I wonder this year if we will leave it empty.
We are about 17 hours behind in time from Japan.  So on Friday morning my students were listening to tsunami warnings for our coast.  We took time to watch a few YouTube videos of Japanese offices/homes being rocked by the 8.9 earthquake, and to see the effects of rushing waves out of control. Students were captivated. This was a live teaching moment.
I was able to visit Japan as a guest teacher in 1999, and having been teaching about its feudal history for the last 14 years. I have a deep love of Japan. It saddens me to see what has happened there. As with all tragedies the rest of the world goes on while those involved struggle to pick up the pieces. And so we will go on in our classroom to learn about Japanese history. We will learn about emperors, shoguns, and samurai in a simulation called War Lords of Japan. Students love it, and when they come back to visit me they always remember what happened with their team. This is my favorite unit of study.
Below are some pictures of our end of China unit. Students are indicating who they thought said a quote they had to ponder over with team partners. It was a fun lesson.

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