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The Great San Francisco Earthquake
Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions


  1. For example, you might imagine that you have interviewed some of the refugees pictured on the hilltop and make their experiences (where they were when the quake struck, how much damage their home sustained, whether they know where their family is, etc.) part of your story.

  2. Students may want to compare the photos on this Web site of the destruction in San Francisco with this Time magazine photo essay on the destruction caused by Katrina.


  1. You also might ask students to consider whether the government's response to a disaster should be affected by the likelihood that the community will suffer a similar disaster in the future. For example, since San Francisco's location makes it vulnerable to earthquakes -- and New Orleans's location makes it vulnerable to floods -- should government be less willing to help such cities rebuild in their current location?

  2. For background information, students may want to consult the timeline from the PBS show "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience." Students may also want to consult some of the online resources listed on the show's Web site.


  1. On your map, you may also want to mark the location of recent earthquakes described by eyewitnesses and/or other recent natural disasters.

  2. Note that the interactive feature contains more information than you will need for your presentation, which should focus on the San Francisco earthquake. (Of course, the interactive feature also contains information that was not known to scientists at the time of the earthquake.)


  1. Possible questions for discussion include: Do these movies allow viewers to confront their fears about bad things that could happen to them? Do they reassure viewers that even if their worst fears are realized, a happy ending is still possible? Do they allow viewers to think that disasters might happen, but not to them personally?

  2. Students may want to mention San Francisco's famous sites, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Students also may want to consult travel guides for information on the city.

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The Great San Francisco Earthquake American Experience

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