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ELA G5:M4:U3

Research on 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, Learning about the Red Cross, and Writing an Opinion Speech

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


In this unit, students use their reading skills to analyze informational texts, building their background knowledge about the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. Simultaneously, they learn about writing and delivering an effective speech through an analysis of the joint speech given by President Obama and former presidents Clinton and Bush in the days after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. As a connection to Social Studies, students also read primary source documents to conduct research about how the United States, through multinational organizations such as the Red Cross, responds to disasters in the Western Hemisphere. For the mid-unit assessment, students complete a short constructed response to explain the importance of providing aid to a country struck by a hypothetical hurricane, and then prioritize and organize their research notes into a graphic organizer to plan their opinion speech about how aid should be prioritized. Students then practice crafting the opinion speech through a brief shared writing experience. They examine the Obama/Clinton/Bush speech as well as a TED Talk given by a student to co-construct a rubric that addresses the speaking and listening standards for delivering a speech to an audience.

During the End of Unit 3 Assessment, students draft a speech for the final performance task about how to prioritize aid following a hypothetical hurricane in Mexico. They then participate in a critique, feedback, and revision session with peers. Next, students receive instruction on language conventions to focus on editing their speeches for punctuation, verb tense, correlative conjunctions, and sentences to enhance clarity or meaning. Students have time to practice their speeches; they then deliver their final speeches to group members. The performance task incorporates both the final draft of the written speech (NYSP12 ELA CCLS RI.5.7, RI.5.9, W.5.1, W.5.4, W.5.5, W.5.7, W.5.8, W.5.9, L.5.1, L.5.2, L.5.3, and L.5.6) and the public speaking task (NYSP12 ELA CCLS SL.5.4 and SL.5.6).


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How should multinational aid organizations prioritize aid when they respond to neighboring communities struck by a natural disaster? 
  • How do speeches motivate and compel people to act?
  • Multinational aid organizations are part of the global community and therefore have a responsibility to provide aid to foreign countries struck by a natural disaster.
  • Public speakers motivate people to act by supporting their opinions with compelling reasons and sound evidence.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and Science content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum

  • 5.10 Increasingly, the nations of the Western Hemisphere participate in and benefit from international organizations that promote peace, cooperation, economic development, global health, and cultural understanding.
  • 5.10a Multinational organizations and non-governmental organizations in the Western Hemisphere seek to actively promote democracy, protect human rights, support economic development, and encourage cooperation between nations.
  • 5.10b The United Nations helps maintain peace between nations and uses international pressure to protect human rights and promote cultural understanding.
  • 5.10c When nations or regions in the Western Hemisphere face challenges due to natural disasters, health epidemics, or political upheavals, multinational organizations provide global support and assistance.


  • 2.1e Extreme natural events (floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe storms) may have positive or negative impacts on living things.
  • 5.2g The health, growth, and development of organisms are affected by environmental conditions such as the availability of food, air, water, space, shelter, heat, and sunlight.
  • 7.1a Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments.
  • 7.1c Humans, as individuals or communities, change environments in ways that can be either helpful or harmful for themselves and other organisms.


Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
Eight Days: A Story of Haiti
by Edwidge Danticat
One per student
ISBN: 978-0545278492, 054527849X

Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
Remarks by President Obama, Former President Bill Clinton, and Former President George W. Bush on the Recovery and Rebuilding Effort in Haiti
by President Obama
Characteristics of Multinational Organizations
by Matt Reher
“The Red Cross at a Glance”
by How Stuff Works,
“Surface Amplified Haiti Earthquake”
by Current Science
Current Science (Vol. 96, Issue 10), Jan. 2011, 13,
“Help for Haiti”
by Weekly Reader News
Weekly Reader News Edition 3 (Vol. 79, Issue 18), Feb. 2010, 3,
“Haiti Earthquake Relief One-Year Report”
by Red Cross
“On Shaky Ground”
by Britt Norlander
In Scholastic Action (Vol. 33 Issue 14), May 10, 2010, 16-19,
“A Rocky Road Ahead”
by Scholastic News
in Scholastic News Edition 5/6 (Vol. 78, Issue 14), Feb. 2010, 2, 2010


Optional Activities


  • Invite Red Cross workers to the class to tell stories of their experiences or electronically communicate with them, posing questions to add to students’ research.
  • Invite victims of the Haiti earthquake to share with students their experiences and stories.


  • Take the class to a Red Cross site to learn about how the organization works and meet the actual relief workers in their environment.
  • Take students to local areas that have experienced natural disasters to see firsthand the devastation and need for aid.

Arrange for students to give their speeches at public events, including city council, state or town hall meetings where government officials have the opportunity to make decisions on funding for international aid.


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