“An American Moment”
Federalism and the States’ Response to Disaster
Preparedness and Response
Video/audio clip of issues relating to federalism and Hurricane Katrina from
Handouts of the “Side by Side” comparison of government actions between
Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita from
Issues listed on strips of paper
Two index cards for each student, one titled “Federal Government” and one
titled “State Government”
The student will demonstrate an understanding of federalism as set-forth by the
constitution by focusing on real-world issues and current events, specifically the
impact of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita on a federal and state level. This
lesson complies with the state mandate of recognizing key dates and holidays
relevant to social studies classes; it can be modified to meet the needs solely of
the 7th grade TEKS, a 7th/8th grade TEKS vertical alignment, or an 8th grade TEKS
Overview of Activity:
In this response group activity, students will be assigned to heterogeneous groups
and given slips of paper with issues typed on them. After listening to or viewing
the clips on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the preparations and effects of
Hurricane Rita, the students will evaluate the issues and determine if it should be,
or have been, handled by the state of Louisiana, the state of Texas, the federal
government, or both state and federal governments. Students also will suggest
improvements to the problems encountered before, during and after the hurricane
while focusing on the issue of federalism.
Preview: Students will begin the activity by reviewing the term “federalism” and
answering the following questions: Which government is responsible for the
catastrophe following Hurricane Katrina, the federal or state government? Which
government is responsible for rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina
and Hurricane Rita, the federal or state government? What plans did the state of
Texas, the state of Louisiana and the government make for Hurricane Rita charted
to make landfall along the Texas/Louisiana coastline weeks after Katrina?
1. Students will be grouped in heterogeneous groups and given the title I.I.P.—
Independent Investigative Panel.
2. Within each group, students will review the term “federalism” and share
examples from historical or current events.
3. Each group will be given a set of issues cut up into separate strips along with
two index cards labeled “Federal Government” and “State Government”.
4. Students will watch a video/audio clip cspan.org, specifically a segment that
has a direct reference to responsibilities of the U.S. Government and the
state of Louisiana.
5. Students will review the actions taken by state and federal governments in
response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita using the handout from
6. Students then will sort the strips under “Federal Government” or “State
Government” depending on which issue they think should be or should have
been handled by the state or by the federal government.
7. Students must come to a consensus within their group.
8. Students also will be asked to come up with changes or improvements to the
issues surrounding the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the state
and federal governments.
9. Each group will assign a presenter who will share their team’s decisions to
the rest of the class.
Closure: Some debriefing questions will be addressed in class as part of the
closure to this activity.
Processing: Create a hurricane preparedness plan for a city along the Texas
coast. Include evacuation plans, travel routes complete with actual inter- and
intrastate highway designations, crisis management, and rebuilding plans.