Disasters activities

Page 3 – What happened and why

Use the topics in the Disasters category of NZHistory.net.nz  for the following activity ideas.

It is important for your students to get some sense of what happened and why it happened. While Level Four of the social studies curriculum requires students to gain knowledge, skills and experience to understand that events have causes and effects it is important for students at all levels to get some sense of what happened and why.

It is also important for students to get some sense of the sequence of events associated with this event as part of the explanation.

A. This activity could be developed as a transactional writing activity as part of a language unit with a social sciences context. Consider the following approach:

Levels 1-3
Read through the material from NZHistory.net as a class and note together on the board answers to the following broad questions:

  • What happened?  
  • Why did it happen?
  • In what order did things happen?

Students could then communicate this information in the format you have selected by:

  • identifying one or two happenings associated with this disaster
  • giving some ideas about why it happened
  • listing some of the events associated with this disaster in time order.

Level 4
At this level it is probably still appropriate to read through the material from NZHistory.net as a class and note together on the board answers to the following broad questions:

  • What happened? 
  • Why did it happen?
  • In what order did things happen? Introduce the word/concept of sequence.

The expectation here is that students should be able to recount cause and effect in more detail. Students could then communicate this information in the format you have selected by:

  • identifying most of the happenings associated with this disaster
  • giving some ideas about why it happened with factual justification
  • Providing a sequence of events - with most of the events in time order.

Level 5
At this level there is a higher expectation of independent reading in order to communicate cause and effect. This will no doubt vary from class to class but if this is a problem revert to one of the suggested approaches form an earlier level.

Students will be able to produce a report in which they:

  • Clearly identify what happened - identifying the main happenings and subsidiary events or flow on from the main event itself.
  • Why it happened - giving ideas with factual justification and supposition.
  • Sequence of events - all event time sequenced.

B. The Sequencing of events
Being able to put events in their correct sequence is an important historical skill that helps students with the narrative of any historical event. It is important to understanding cause and effect.

Another way of helping younger students especially to understand sequence is to get them to approach this skill from a visual perspective.

  • Go to the media gallery associated with one of the disaster features in NZHistory.net
  • Print out some of the images or information from the gallery. Make sure you remove any captions or clues from the image
  • Present them to your class – or to groups – and jumble them up
  • Your students have to put them in what they think is the correct sequence and be able to justify their order.

The discussion in groups here is where some of the real learning can take place and will help students to develop arguments that they can justify.

Alternatively consider a timeline approach. This might work with older students with a greater awareness of time.

  • Select one of the disasters covered in NZHistory.net
  • Use the information available from NZHistory.net to produce an illustrated timeline of the selected disaster:
    • The timeline must start from the time the disaster began­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ until it was ‘all over’. You might need to define what is meant by ‘all over’. For instance this might mean after official inquiries or funerals etc.
    • Include everything that happened and make sure you get it in the right time sequence (order).
    • Some levels might find this easier to brainstorm as a class, checking the order as they go.

 

 

How to cite this page

'What happened and why', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/social-studies/disasters/what-happened, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 12-Jul-2017