The Quake

FEATURED LESSON PLAN: How Should We Respond to the Crisis in Haiti?



The Quake documents reporter Martin Smith’s visit to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in January 2010. This lesson focuses on analyzing the role of relief organizations in delivering aid, examining the economic and political interdependence among countries, and exploring the social responsibilities of individuals and nations in assisting foreign countries when disasters strike.


Subject Area:

Social Studies, Current Events, Global Studies, Civics, Language Arts, International Affairs, Debate and Geography


Grade Level:

Grades 9-12
NOTE: The film contains graphic images. Please preview before classroom use.



    The student will:
  • Develop critical viewing and note-taking skills by watching a video chapter and completing the associated viewing guide
  • Become familiar with how the Haitian government and relief organizations responded to the humanitarian crisis caused by the earthquake
  • Participate in a group discussion that explores their opinions about how resources should be shared and distributed during an international crisis
  • Examine how events in one country can affect people around the world


Estimated Time Needed:

One 50-minute class periods


Materials Needed:




Main Activity: How Should We Respond to the Crisis in Haiti?

STEP 1: Use the following prompts as a starting point for class discussion:

  • Do all people have a right to have their basic needs met (food, clothing, shelter, etc.), even if they do not have the resources within their own country to meet these needs?
  • Do rich countries and individuals have a responsibility to share their excess with others who are less fortunate?
  • When the needs of a single person are not met, do others suffer as a result?
  • Are all people on earth interdependent? Is this a good thing? Why or why not?

STEP 2: Ask students to recall what their thoughts and their feelings were when they first heard about the earthquake striking Haiti in January 2010. Select volunteers to share recollections, facts, statistics and events they remember seeing through news coverage or other sources.

STEP 3: Show students the video clip or read select quotes and phrases from the transcript that explain some of the challenges faced by relief organizations and governments after the quake. Distribute the “ Viewing Guide” handout and review the questions to focus student attention. Students should take notes and be able to discuss their opinions.

STEP 4: Talk about the questions on the Viewing Guide and revisit the questions presented in Step 1 of the lesson. Did watching the video or hearing the transcript change their opinions about our interdependence and sharing resources? Discuss.

STEP 5: Help students further consider the interdependence of nations by reviewing the Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer handout. Complete the first pair of boxes as a class. Direct students to complete the remainder of the worksheet as a homework assignment.



This teacher's guide was developed by Cari Ladd. It was written by Lisa Prososki. Advisers were Molly Lynde of Mills E. Godwin High School in Richmond, Va., and Megan Palevich of Montgomery School in Chester Springs, Pa.



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