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earthquakeMost of you are aware that Utah is long overdue for “the big one”. The question is not “if” an large magnitude earthquake will happen in Utah, but “when”.

Every April, the Deseret News runs a series of articles related to Earthquake Preparedness Month. In 2008, the newspaper wrote about the earthquake in an interesting way. They wrote about the earthquake as if it actually happened and you are reading about it from somewhere else.

This would be an excellent opportunity for a class discussion on how the effects our overdue earthquake could have on our communities, cities, and the state as a whole. Ask your students questions such as, “Why would it take so long for help to arrive?” and “Does the time of day make a difference as far as earthquake casualties?”

Salt Lake Earthquake 2008 Part 1

Salt Lake Earthquake 2008 Part 2

Salt Lake Earthquake 2008 Part 3 (1)

For you Salt Lake Valley educators, here’s a map that shows the amount of shaking that would be experienced in your area.

After you’re done reading the article, set up the projector and show your class this Earthquake simulator from National Geographic and create your own unique earthquake!

To access Earthquake Simulator:
-Click here to go to the National Geographic “Forces of Nature” webpage
-Next to “Choose a Force”, click on the Earthquake symbol
-Simulation is on page 7 (note there is an option for a fault quake- might be appropriate for where you live!)

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Counties and Seats- March Madness Style

This class activity is a spin-off from an earlier post about learning counties and their seats.

Flashcards with each county name and its seat on the front and back, respectively
Paper to keep score

(You can use a text book or handout if you have no flashcards available)

Group your students into groups of 4 and move their desks into a table so they all face each other.

Desk Map

One student writes each student’s name at the top of a piece of paper to keep score. Student A quizzes Student B sitting across from him/her on the counties and county seats. Student C, sitting to the left/right of Student A, keeps score of how many the student answer correctly within 60 seconds (I have someone else keep score so the driller won’t waste precious seconds marking tallies). Student B then drills Student A, with Student D keeping score on the same sheet of how many Student A answers correctly in 60 seconds.

The students sitting next to each other (Students A/C and B/D) then quiz each other, each adding points to their previous score.

The person with the most amount of points at each table is then taken to the next round where he or she will compete with the winners from other groups. The winners move to sit at the same tables and the round starts over again while the rest of the class can watch or keep quizzing themselves. Class winner gets a prize (I usually asked them what their favorite candy bar was and then brought it to class the next day).

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Counties and Seats

We’ve all gotta teach this. Our students must learn all of Utah’s 29 counties and their seats. I have 3 different ways of doing this, and all 3 have worked for my students in the past. Scroll down and see which one(s) you’d like to try!
Idea 1: Some teachers like to assign county reports and let students research and share information about an assigned county including its geography, resources, and etc. I’ve done this in the past, but added my own twist to it, which is very simple:

Make a large copy of the map of Utah’s counties, and cut out the individual counties. Give each county’s puzzle piece to the student who is assigned that particular county. For the order of reports, I like to move from North to South, left to right. Box Elder is first, San Juan is last.

The student with Box Elder comes up, give their report, and then tapes their puzzle piece to the board. This is the first piece of your Utah counties puzzle! As the students come up (and you may want to do only a few per day), they continue to add their pieces to the puzzle, and the state of Utah begins to form! This is a wonderful activity not only because it is informative (about each county), but gives a visual as well to help students remember each county location.

Idea 2: This is similar to the puzzle idea in Idea 1, only students build their own puzzle of Utah with a partner. I find a map of Utah counties and make copies for half of my students (they work in pairs). With their partner, they both label each county (nicely). After that, one student cuts each county out, and the other colors each county. Once everyone is done, they exchange their pile of puzzle pieces (the cut out counties) with another pair of students. The class has a race to see which pair of students can put Utah together the fastest! The puzzle pieces can be stored in a small plastic ziploc sack, and put away for future use later in the term.

Idea 3: Call it original, but I’ve found this idea is the fastest way for my students to memorize the names and locations of the counties and their seats.

To memorize county names and seats: Flashcards. Like I said, original, but it works! If your school provides flash cards then use them. If not, prepare students for this activity by asking them to bring a set of 3×5 cards to class (no bigger than a set of 30). Or you could make them out of paper, but it might take a while to cut them out.

Students then proceed to write the names of the counties on one side of the card, with its county seat on the other. In groups of two, they can quiz each other. Start off with 5 cards, and once they get those mastered, add 5 more, and etc. Once they get good, have them get into groups of 4 and compete against each other. One person keeps score, another shows/flips the cards, while the two sitting across from the cards try to beat each other to the answer for a point.

To memorize county locations: Using the overhead, show a transparency of the Utah Counties map on the white board, and write in all the county names in marker on the board (not overhead). Take a pointer (I use a yardstick) and start pointing to a group of counties. Students must say the county you point to out-loud. I try to keep things entertaining by speeding up, slow-motion, or trying to trick them (start to point at one county then at the last second switch to another one).

Then start erasing county names, and go back over those now-blank counties. Add a few more counties into the mix, and proceed to erase those as well when students have mastered them, remembering to point to previous counties you’ve erased before that round. Pretty soon the whole map is blank and they know all the counties!
How do you and your class learn the counties and their county seats? Share your ideas with us!

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Utah and Me

This activity shows the diverse geography of Utah.

Students are to bring a photograph of himself/herself somewhere in Utah. Results will vary! Some students will bring pictures of themselves enjoying a dip in Lake Powell, others skiing in the Wasatch Mountains, downtown Salt Lake City, Bonneville Salt Flats, biking the red rocks of Moab, etc. Be sure to point out the different features Utah has to offer us, and benefits we receive from them!

Create a collage of these photos on your classroom wall for your students to see throughout the semester. I got this idea from watching several teachers at my school do this- the collage looks great and adds a touch of creativity to the classroom!

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For teachers who are from Utah, and are old enough to remember, there used to be a town just south of Spanish Fork called Thistle. In the spring of 1983, Thistle was an unfortunate victim of Utah’s ever-changing geography. This story is a great example of how a simple change in geography can have a great effect on society and the economy.

Due to record-setting rain and snow precipitation that year cause a big landslide that blocked a small river from continuing on its way. As a result, this river’s back-up eventually created a lake that rose higher and higher, forcing residents to evacuate their homes. This disaster cost millions of dollars, not just in loss of property, but this landslide blocked train tracks and the highway! The Railroad industry lost money every day they couldn’t get through. A tunnel was built to drain the lake, and the water receded revealing Thistle’s devastation. Thistle is now a ghost town, and if you drive through it, all that’s left to see are foundations, the corner of the Thistle school-house, and rooftops that were lifted from walls and floated away.

This is just a little information on the town of Thistle, but you can find much more, including pictures, online.

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“Erosion” with Bill Nye the Science Guy

To say that Utah is a good example of the process of erosion would be an understatement. It’s a PERFECT example of erosion! Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) did an episode on erosion in which he describes its process and diverse forms and how it shapes the land. The best part about this episode, is that it features Utah! Now, he never actually says he’s in Utah, but from his surroundings, you can tell that a good part of the episode was filmed in southern Utah from the Delicate Arch, Bryce Canyon, and other landmarks.

Check this episode out for yourself and see if it’s something you’d like to show your kids. (You must use your UEN username and password to get into pioneer library, then click on e-media and type “Bill Nye Erosion” in the search box. It should pop up!)

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