January 20, 2022

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Lesson of the Day: ‘In Kentucky, Tallying the Grim Scale of Destruction’

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Featured Article: “In Kentucky, Tallying the Grim Scale of Destruction

A tornado outbreak tore through six states on Friday night: Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The greatest loss of life was in Kentucky, where Gov. Andy Beshear said on Monday that there were 74 confirmed deaths. Officials are still attempting to find victims and account for the damage; however, on Monday morning, about 26,000 customers in Kentucky were still without power.

In this lesson, you will learn about the tornadoes’ devastating impact. Then you will focus on one Kentucky community where people are pitching in to help one another.

Part 1: Watch a video.

Watch this one-minute video about the toll of the tornadoes. Then respond to these questions:

Part 2: Study a map.

Spend five minutes scrolling through this article that shows interactive maps and videos of the damage. Then, choose one map or diagram to focus on. What is one thing you notice? What is one thing you wonder?

Part 3: Journal.

Have you ever experienced a natural disaster before? How does it feel to read the news about the tornadoes, and see photographs and videos of the damage? What do you imagine the people in these communities need most right now?

Read the article, and then answer the following questions:

1. What happened last Friday night in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee? What was one glimmer of hope after the tornadoes?

2. What happened at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory in Kentucky? Why were Darryl Johnson, and other family members of workers, particularly concerned about the situation at the factory?

3. What was the impact of the tornadoes? How have individuals and families been affected?

4. What did Paul Reagan, a retired steelworker, mean when he said, “There is no reason for us to lose family members because corporate America wants a dollar”? What does his statement reveal about how some community members in Illinois and Kentucky view the businesses that were in operation during the tornadoes?

5. How has the Mayfield Consumer Products factory responded to critiques about why it remained open during the storms? What do you think of its response?

6. How has the Latino community in Mayfield been uniquely affected by the tornadoes?

Reflect on Community During Times of Need

Watch the three-minute video above. What do you find out about this community and the devastation that you didn’t learn from the other things you read or watched? What moments stand out for you?

Have you ever experienced anything like this, where people in a community you’re a part of came together to help others? What was it like? What memories stand out? What did you learn from the experience?

If you would like to help the victims of this disaster, you can learn about some of the organizations that are on the ground helping, and, perhaps, donate money or skills. Are there other ways that you, your family or your school community could pitch in? Create a plan and then talk to your teacher, classmates or family members about making it happen.

Additional Teaching and Learning Opportunities

  • Keep up with this story as it develops: Rescuers are continuing to tally the loss of life after the tornadoes, and there is a long road to recovery for the communities that have been most devastated. The New York Times is regularly updating this story via a live briefing, where you can find breaking news, maps, photos, advice about how to help and more.

  • Consider your emergency preparedness: How prepared do you feel to navigate a tornado or another natural disaster? Read this short article about what plans were in place during the tornadoes. Then, make a list of steps you can take to be prepared for a natural disaster. For instance, what might you put in a “go bag”? Does your school or community have a disaster plan? If not, tips from this article may help.

  • Learn more about the situation at the Amazon factory: Read this article that details some of the concerns that workers and community members have had about the factory. What questions does the article raise for you?

  • Explore why the role of climate change in tornado “clusters” is unclear: In recent years, tornadoes have been occurring farther east from the Great Plains’ tornado alley, and they seem to be occurring in greater “clusters” as well. Read this article to find out why Friday’s tornado system was unusual, and why scientists are not yet able to determine whether there is a link between climate change.


Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.

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