Subscribe to SLJ
Bowllan's Blog
Inside Bowllan's Blog

Writers Against Racism: Haiti as a Teaching Tool

My daughter and her friend are spending today, a Saturday, raising money for Haiti. 

And if one positive thing can be gleaned from this devastating tragedy is that young people from all over the world want to help. It’s a great way to start the new year, having the world’s children championing a cause for those who are less fortunate, and for those who are suffering.
It’s an education on the importance of giving.

This past week has been busy for educators who are trying to incorporate the Haiti disaster into their lesson plans. Particular questions I’ve had in preparing my lessons: With regards to pictures, what is too much to show? What type of impact will my lesson have on the students? Are they too young to learn about this type of death and destruction? Just so you know, I teach elementary on high school students. So here’s how I broke down my week.

–As a former reporter, I have been fascinated by the reporters’ angles and the stories surrounding their efforts. So I had my high school students analyze the coverage: When should reporters report the news and when should they help? 

–Here’s what they discussed. "There is a fine line in journalism between going the extra mile and going too far, but does that line move in a time of disaster." (comes via KOMU) While there were a variety of answers as to reporter protocol, the consensus was, as long as the reporter is not benefiting from the coverage, then it’s fine to help if needed.

–I’ve also been immersed in how pictures are telling the stories of the Haitians, as well. So again, I had my broadcast journalism students, analyze photos from The NYT website. This lesson plan came via a great resource provided by The NYT – 5 Ways to Teach About Haiti Right Now.

–For my younger students in grade 5, I introduced them to Haiti by sharing a documentary produced by Brent and Craig Renaud who visited Haiti just 3-weeks Before The Quake. This instructed them as to what the geography was like, and how even before the quake, Haiti’s infrastructure and economy were struggling. We also analyzed the landscape, and defined the following terms that were used in the video: deforestation, natural disaster, dire, charcoal, erosion, infrastructure, and Tap Tap. Then we generated story ideas on NEXT STEPS FOR HAITI, which in the next few weeks, the students will report on for the class. Do share your own ideas or class activities in the comment section, as I am curious to see what others are doing.


  1. christina bowllan says:

    great job myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!