Rebuild, Renew, Revitalize, Recreate New Orleans

By Natashia James, October 4, 2007

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Two weeks of forty-five minute class periods. This is a two-part lesson plan, one week of research and one week of design


This lesson was inspired by the effects and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how it has tremendously stifled the New Orleans community. In this activity, students will research and evaluate the progress of rebuilding efforts in New Orleans post-Katrina. They will research different careers—skilled and unskilled—that are in demand, conduct informational interviews with business owners in their communities, and design a project that would help the revitalization process in their neighborhoods.

National Standards

Standard 5. Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
Benchmark C. Demonstrate knowledge and skills of Internet use and other resources consistent with acceptable use policies including illegal consequences of plagiarism and the need for authenticity in student work through an understanding of copyright issues. Standard 4. Technology Research Tools Benchmark I. Evaluate technology-based options for lifelong learning. Standard 2. Technology problem solving/decisions making tools Standard 5. Social, Ethical, and Human IssuesBenchmark K. Evaluate the usage of technology and the processes involved during and upon completion of individual and group projects.
Language Arts
Standard 1. Student read, comprehend, and respond to a range of materials, using a variety of strategies for different purposes.
Standard 4. Students demonstrate competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning and communicating. Standard 5. Student locates, select, and synthesize information from a variety of texts, media, references, and technological sources to acquire and communicate knowledge. Standard 7. Students will apply reasoning and problem solving skills to reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing.
Arts-Creative Expression
Standard B. Student develops creative expression through the application of knowledge, ideas, communication skills, organizational abilities, and imagination. Benchmark 1. Produce works of art that successfully convey a central theme based on imagery, ideas, feelings, and memories. Benchmark 5. Produce imaginative works of art generated from individual and group ideas.

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.


Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening: 

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


  1. Students will: • research ideas using various methods (Internet, library, other resources) • explore a variety of careers • conduct informational interviews • evaluate, analyze, and interpret information from multiple sources • participate in small group activities and class discussions • construct a sample design model of something that would be placed in their respective neighborhoods



• Internet accessible classroom • Clay Doh • Color Pencils • Crayons • Construction Paper • Pipe Cleaners • Glue • Cardboard Platform • Rulers • Paint & Brushes


Words to think about:
artists, city economy, communication, community centers, health care, homeless, immigrants, jobs, libraries, local culture, Mardi Gras, mental health, museums, musicians, parks, politics, pollution,  race relations, recycling, schools, small businesses, teen recreation, tourism, vacant lots, violence, voting, wetlands


Week 1: Research Activities
Day 1 As a class, discuss the progress of the city's development thus far since Hurricane Katrina. Explain how it has impacted careers in New Orleans. Students will use the Internet to research the progress and make a list of jobs that were difficult to attain pre-Katrina, which are in very high demand post-Katrina.
Homework: Explain in writing why these jobs are so important to repopulate the city. Day 2 Discuss the value of education as it relates to getting a job and keeping a job. Explain why trade skills are a very important contributor to the city's rebuilding success post-Katrina. Students will research skilled and unskilled jobs and compile the criteria for each (i.e., education needed, experience, certification, etc.). Homework: Brainstorm how you can design a better plan to market jobs in the city. How can you create potential business to help develop New Orleans? Day 3 Discuss how communities are affected in both positive and negative ways when potential jobs are not attainable, due to lack of education, skills, knowledge, and resources. Divide the students into groups to discuss how their community is progressing presently. What are positive aspects of the community? How can the community be better? What areas need improvement? Homework: What can you design in your neighborhood to help with the revitalization process? How will this design help the community? Day 4 Discuss what jobs are in demand post-Katrina. Talk about how the development of the city is crucially dependent upon businesses, and the need for all careers to be present in the city. Students will discover the impact the reopening of small businesses would have on the community. Talk about how this would bring new jobs to the city. Homework: Interview a small business owner in your community. Ask them if they feel supported in their efforts from the government? Day 5 Have the students reflect personally on the government's responsibility to the citizens. They should answer the question, “If you were President of the United States, how would you have done things differently to help Katrina’s rebuilding efforts?” Have students complete the Word Puzzle "Things to Think About" for rebuilding New Orleans. Homework: Interview a parent on their feelings about this topic. Do they differ from yours? If so, how?
Week 2: Design Activities
In groups, students will:
  • Design something that would help with the revitalization process that they would like to see present in their communities or neighborhood
  • Vote on the design their group will model

Homework: Think of ways you can improve your model.

Each group should work on their model thorughout the week while the teacher rotates throughout the classroom, giving students ideas and feedback on their sample models.


All projects will be graded on: • Creativity of the materials used • How effectively the needs of the community were analyzed • Ideas brainstormed during the activity • The quality of their presentation

Teacher Reflection

This activity was very successful with the students. They enjoyed researching and educating themselves on what's going on in their communities. Through the lesson, they demonstrated that they have wanted to become actively involved in the decision making process in the perspective communities. The lesson was very engaging for the students; they really enjoyed the hands-on experience and being creative. The homework activities triggered higher-order thinking skills that allowed the students to make connections into their homes and communities. The Cooper-Hewitt staff had the opportunity to see the exhibits of the projects on a visit to the school.

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