Katrina Lesson Plan

Subject: Geography

Objective: Students will understand how human intervention has affected the geography of southeast Louisiana

Procedures: 1. Ask students to look at the Google map of New Orleans here. Zoom out on the map so that they can see the southeast Louisiana coastline. What observations can they make about the geography of the region?

2. Have the students predict what geographic forces may have shaped this region.

3. Have the students watch Interactive: The Sinking Wetlands, by Dan Swenson, found here.

Part 1: 6000 Years Ago

a. What did Southeast Louisiana look like 6000 years ago?

Part 2: 4,600 Years Ago

a. How were Barrier Island and Lake Pontchartrain formed?

Part 3: 4,300 Years Ago

a. What effect did the Mississippi River have on the land near the future site of New Orleans?

Part 4: 4,000 Years Ago

a. How did the Mississippi River form the St. Bernard Delta?

Part 5: 3,000 Years Ago

a. How did the Mississippi River form the Chandeleur Islands?

Part 6: 2,000 Years Ago

a. How did the shifting of the river affect the Chandeleur Islands?

b. Why is the river called “a dynamic land builder?”

Part 7: 1718-1900

a. Why was New Orleans an attractive location for those who founded it in 1718?

b. Why were the levees built?

c. Why were canals and channels built around the city?

d. What effect did the levees and the channels have on the land?

4. Part 8: 1930

a. This segment lists six factors that will cause trouble in the future for the geography of the region. The six factors are: (1) Levees and Jetties, (2) Canals and Channels, (3) Land Subsidence, (4) Saltwater Intrusion, (5) Invasive Species, and (6) Sea-Level Rise.

b. If possible, divide the class into six groups and assign each of the groups one of the factors. Ask each group to report out to the class how the factor they studied affected the geography of the region.

5. Part 9: 1932-2020

a. Why is southeast Louisiana losing so much land every day?

b. What are geologists predicting will happen by 2020?

c. How are the levees responsible for the land loss while protecting the region from storms?

6. Click through the land loss stages to show students what has happened already and what could happen in the future.


1. Distribute a 3″ x 5″ index card to each student. Ask each student to explain in a couple of sentences how human intervention has affected the geography of southeast Louisiana

Correlations to National Standards (McRel)


Standard 7: Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on the Earth’s surface

Standard 14: Understands how human actions modify the physical environment.

Standard 17: Understand how geography is used to interpret the past.


1. Swenson, Daniel “The Rise and Disappearance of Southeast Louisiana”

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