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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Our Savage Planet in the News
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MBs of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 95 or higher.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

  • Any Word Processing Program (i.e., MS Word, Corel WordPerfect, AppleWorks, etc.)
  • MS Powerpoint or HyperStudio can be used by students to add a multimedia presentation to their final project. For more information on how to use these programs, see wNetSchool's HyperStudio or PowerPoint Tutorials.

Before students begin the activities, have them bookmark the following sites according to their groups.

  • Volcano Research Group

  • Storms Research Group

  • Deadly Skies Research Group

  • Extremes Research Group


  • Activity One: Savage Meanings

    Write the word 'savage' in the center of the board and brainstorm possible meanings. Record student responses.

    Share the dictionary definition with the class. The definition can be found at...

    Discuss possible meanings of the term 'savage planet.'

  • Activity Two: Internet Research

    1. Divide the class into four groups

    Volcano Research Group
    Storms Research Group
    Deadly Skies Research Group
    Extremes Research Group

    The students in each group will collect 15-20 facts based on their research. Each group will be responsible for presenting their findings to the class. They should focus on the scientific explanations for these naturally occurring events.

    Volcano Research Group:

    The students in this group will focus on lahars, which are lethal combinations of volcanic debris and water. Go to and search the word "lahars" for your initial search. You will find ten sources there.

    Storms Research Group

    The students in this group will focus on extra-tropical storms. (Students may begin their research using the sites listed below: )

    Deadly Skies Research Group

    The students in this group will focus on the Earth's atmosphere and the origin of lightning, hail and asteroids. (Students may begin their research using the sites listed below: )

    Extremes Research Group

    The students in this group will focus on extreme environments. These could include Death Valley and areas where avalanches occur. (Students may begin their research using the following sites: )

  • Activity Three: News Broadcast

    Each of the four research groups will be responsible for creating an imaginary report for a broadcast called "Our Savage Planet in the News". This report should be based on information they have learned through their research efforts, and should stress the scientific understandings they have gained as well as the effect these events have on the environment and the people. They should be encouraged to use creativity in the development and presentation of the report. You may choose to provide a real audience, such as younger grade level students.

  • Activity Four: Rate the Dangers

    1. Ask the students to think about the hazards inherent in each of the different events which they have researched. Have them assign a scale from 1-4 based on which of these events they would least like to live through, one being their first choice and four their last choice.

    2. Have students divide themselves into groups with similar opinions and list the reasons for their choices.

    3. Give each group the opportunity to express their opinions.

    4. Ask if any class members have changed their opinions on the basis of the discussions.

  • Activity Five: I Was There!

    Have the students watch the following video and write a letter to a friend describing the avalanche.

  • Activity Six: An Artistic Response

    Create an artistic representation of one of the kinds of events in this lesson. Students can choose to work in pairs or small groups. Some examples of projects might include a skit on avalanche preparedness; a depiction of a lahar; an imaginary account of a lightning survivor; or the creation of a piece of music that was inspired by the lessons in the Savage Planet.


    Students will be evaluated on the quality of their group presentation, their written activities and their groups' evidence supporting their arguments.


    Have students prepare a natural disaster evacuation plan for a particular natural event. Some possible Web sites to use include:

    Have students create a small booklet containing summaries of people who have survived natural disasters.


    For applicable standards see:


    Students often work most effectively in small groups to develop projects. Encourage them to share what they are learning with each other, as often explaining things to another person helps clarify ones own understanding of a concept.

    Give students time to discuss what they are learning. The lesson activities will be most beneficial when the students have some background exposure to the topics.

    Encourage students to support their views with evidence from the sources they are researching.

    The use of different symbolic representations such as art and music is extremely helpful in integrating knowledge. Encourage students to think across disciplines.

    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, and other materials from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students