Japan: A Teachable Moment

Monday Morning Message ~ 3-14-2011

For as long as I can remember, I have subscribed to the United States Geological Survey to receive reports each time a significant earthquake occurs anywhere on our globe.

Early Friday morning, as I checked my school email account, the notices rolled in, and currently I have over 100 reports sent even up until today for the aftershocks. Each of those tremors have been significant enough to generate a notification.

Why would you subscribe?

As a fifth grade teacher I have used the reports for geography to teach, among other things, latitude and longitude. Each time I receive a report, a student has been responsible for plotting the points and marking the earthquake on a world map.

This leads into math and the use of coordinates, and distance in miles and kilometers.

In science we learn about earthquakes in our physical science units, their impact on our continents, and the different types of earthquakes. We learn about the history of major earthquakes and that even in Illinois, the New Madrid Fault is a sleeping threat.

Literature in our reading program contains a story about earthquakes. I supplement this with nonfiction books about such things as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Finally, these emails reinforce what is currently happening around the world, and teaches us that we are a family of international citizens. It helps students think beyond the borders of our continental United States.

To sign up to receive earthquake notifications, visit the USGS website:


Click below to view a copy of the revised notification for the first quake.


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