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ELA Module 4

Gathering Evidence and Speaking to Others: Natural Disasters in the Western Hemisphere


The fourth module of fifth grade engages students in a high-interest topic—natural disasters—with a literacy focus on point of view in literature, research, opinion writing, and public speaking. The module integrates science content (about extreme natural events) with a Social Studies focus on the Western Hemisphere and the role of multinational organizations.

In Unit 1, students read about the science behind natural disasters, specifically earthquakes and hurricanes.

In Unit 2, students read two pieces of literature that is set during a natural disaster. They consider what they can learn from literature about natural disasters and their impact on the people who experience them. This is explored through an analysis of the narrator’s perspective and how this impacts the description of events as well as the visual elements of the text. 

In Unit 3, students work in research teams to investigate natural disasters that have affected countries in the Western Hemisphere. As a connection to Social Studies, students also will read primary source documents to learn about how the United States and multinational organizations, such as the Red Cross, respond to disasters in the Western Hemisphere. Based on this research, students then will draft and revise an opinion speech in which they take a stand on what role U.S. humanitarian organizations should take when neighboring countries are struck by natural disasters.

*Descriptions of modules are from EL Education*