Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Students will be able deconstruct and analyze case studies.
- Students will be able to discuss applications of energy conservation in daily living.
- Students will be able to evaluate the costs and benefits of renewable and nonrenewable resources.
- Students will be able to formulate and construct clear arguments based on information given.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Students should have prior knowledge of some environmental issues currently affecting society. For instance, students should know the term "global climate change," even if they do not fully understand the meaning of it. It would be helpful if they knew some examples of renewable resources such as wind power, geothermal, solar, etc.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
What are some ways to dispose of waste that would not harm the environment?
There is no viable solution as of yet except to use recycled materials and switch to more renewable sources of energy. No current policies require any of these options, with the exception of some areas that require people to recycle.
What does living in an environmentally conscious way mean to you?
Students answers will vary. Assure students that no answer is incorrect, and encourage students to speak their mind. If they do not care about the environment, they are allowed to say that. Do not be biased or make any students feel bad for having their own opinions.
Explain some of the reasons why renewable resources are not being utilized more effectively.
- Some resources require a high start-up price.
- Companies do not have current infrastructure to support it. (The cost may be high to change a whole company.)
- No legislation requires companies to be environmentally friendly.
- Some people believe global climate change does not exist and fail to acknowledge that pollution is a problem.
Why would a company be hesitant to convert their infrastructure to renewable sources?
Again, the start-up price can be extremely high. If a company is making a high profit with their current means, then they may not see the benefit of changing and spending all the money, especially since it is not required by any laws.
Do you believe environmental racism is evident in modern society?
Student answers will vary. Assist students with understanding the terms and thinking critically about their surroundings, including what they may already know about the topic.
Why is environmental racism prevalent in low income areas?
People may not have time to protest or go to city hall meetings, people may be unaware of companies' intent to build there, people tend to have less education, the community may not have money to spend on keeping the companies out, etc. There is a lot of research on this topic; teachers should investigate more in depth before presenting this topic.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
Today's lesson will focus on energy resources and anthropogenic effects on the environment. The term "anthropogenic" describes something that is caused by human activity. Today we will focus on how our "throw-away" consumer lifestyle has detrimentally affected the environment, and we will look at possible solutions to preventing more harm to the environment and society.
This is the type of lecture you will experience in college. It is based mainly on media sources and case studies. Case studies are very popular in college, and you will need to understand how to utilize them for research papers and upper-level courses. They are examples of situations that have occurred, and scientists and professors use them to validate their own personal research or to make a point using evidence.
Today we will be using case studies and video clips to write and construct well-thought-out opinion analysis papers. Think about when you have many family members over for dinner or a BBQ. How many of your parents use formal dining dishes and glasses? (Most students will say that their parents don't, and instead they use paper plates and cups.) Why do they use them over glassware? (Students will say it's easier than washing all the dishes.) Exactly! In the 1950s, companies introduced the idea of this "throw away" lifestyle. Think about every fast food restaurant or other disposable objects and how our society has become incredibly dependent on these items. Plastic products are used every day and have increased the ease of living. However, plastic is made from petroleum, which is a type of fossil fuel.
"Fossil fuels" are natural fuels formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms, such as coal, natural gas, and oil. They are used for the production of many items, from plastic to electricity. They release harmful pollution and are not always energy efficient. The biggest problem with fossil fuels is that they are non-renewable. These resources are natural resources which cannot be reproduced, grown or generated. Once they are depleted (gone), there is no more available for future needs. Their use can also lead to unintended consequences. These are the unexpected effects that can cause serious harm to an environment or health of an individual. Again, let's focus on plastics. Most are not biodegradable, which means when you litter plastic, it does not break down. It may not appear to be serious when you throw a plastic bottle on the ground, however, there are many unintended consequences associated with doing such a thing.
This PowerPoint is designed to be used with this lecture: Energy_Resources_PPT.pptx
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Let's look at the following case study, "Garbage Island." Students will watch two videos about the Great Pacific Garbage Dump, a pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean that is larger than the state of Texas.
Garbage Island Video 1
Garbage Island Video 2
Explain that students need to pay attention and take notes on things that shock them or that they find to be interesting. After viewing the videos, students will take out paper and answer the following questions with 3-4 sentences. This will be collected!
- After viewing these videos, how did you feel?
- Why do you think little is being done to prevent or stop this issue?
- What do you think could be done to stop this issue from getting worse?
- Do you think more awareness of this issue would bring about bigger changes?
- What does living in an environmentally conscious way mean to you?
- Will these films inspire you to take preventative measures against littering?
Students complete the questions individually and quietly. After you collect their responses, ask the following question:
Which seems like the best practice of disposing waste that will have the least harmful effect on the environment? Explain why you selected the answer that you did.
- Put landfills far away from people and major cities.
- Send garbage over seas to other countries.
- Burn the garbage, because this would save space.
- Use recyclable materials and renewable energy.
Explain that answers 1-3 do not help the environment, but actually cause harm. It may improve the environmental quality in our area, but sending the trash away or burning it only creates a bigger problem somewhere else. Some students may not be familiar with the term renewable energy. Hand out the Frayer Model worksheet (Frayer_Model.docx) and have students fill it in as you continue with the discussion of renewable resources. Teachers have the option to have students break into groups and research one of the four renewable resources, then have them present their findings or review them as a class. See the attached PowerPoint for information on renewable energy resources.
This activity leads into the discussion of "NIMBY," or "Not In My Backyard," a common response from citizens when an undesirable structure is to be placed in their town. For example, people may protest a landfill being placed in their town because no one wants the eyesore, pollution, truck traffic, or smells associated with a landfill. NIMBY could be used positively, such as to bring attention to a health risk, or negatively, for personal, selfish reasons.
Video 1: Uranium Mining in the West - This video is an example of NIMBY used positively. The video shows how uranium mining in the west is causing contamination to the water supply of the local people, which is having detrimental health effects. This goes into the debate on mineral vs. surface rights.
Background Information: Mineral rights are separate from surface rights. A homeowner owns the surface rights, meaning anything above ground, but companies can purchase the mineral rights to access the materials beneath. Therefore, a homeowner cannot stop a company from drilling for uranium, even though may cause negative health and environmental effects.
NIMBY is used to try and bring attention to this issue in an attempt on getting it solved. However, sometimes NIMBY is used for more personal and selfish reasons.
Video 2: Wind Turbines in Cape Cod - This video is an example of NIMBY used negatively for selfish reasons. It explains how in the upper class area of Cape Cod, they do not want wind turbines because it will make the view "unattractive," even though people can barely see the wind turbines from shore, as they would be placed far out to sea. Wind turbines have no negative effects in this area, but locals do not like the aesthetics. They have the potential to power the area and not produce harmful emissions, yet people are protesting it. One interesting example in this video is Robert Kennedy, who is an environmental lawyer in favor of wind power, but protests the turbines in THIS area because his home is located there. This is an example of a selfish use of NIMBY. Have students share their opinion on these two videos.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
The lesson concludes with environmental racism, which is the disproportionate impact of environmental contamination on low income and/or minority communities. It refers to the decisions to put hazardous waste facilities and other unwanted land uses in such communities. Also, it includes racial discrimination in formulating and carrying out environmental policies. There are many good articles on the subject available online. Students can research the subject independently with teacher guidance.
After completing their independent research, have students write a detailed response to the following question:
Do you believe environmental racism is evident in modern society?
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
After students complete the response to the question, have students share their responses and explain their reasoning. On the attached PowerPoint, the last slide provides some examples of environmental racism that are still prevalent today. Teachers may also find examples that may be affecting their own area.
Students will be asked to complete mini writing activities based on topics covered in the lesson that will be collected and graded. The assignments will be based on different media sources and discussions from class. Students will be graded on the depth of their responses.
Begin lecture by posing the following question:
What would you do if they wanted to place a landfill next to your favorite park in your hometown?
Students will give a variety of answers. Depending on the student, some may say they would not care because they do not go to the park, or some may be upset by the thought. If students seem ambivalent about this scenario, make it more relevant to something that is more personal and meaningful to them. For instance, ask students: "What about your home?" The thought of placing an undesirable entity right next to their homes may spark more emotion in students.
Ask students if they know where corporations tend to build these "undesirable" infrastructures, such as chemical plants and landfills. Explain that many of these companies purposely place these infrastructures in low income areas. Ask, "Why do you think this would be the case?"
Student answers may vary. Most students are aware of the injustices that plague society, and this is the time where you really want to get them thinking deeply about these social issues that are occurring in these areas.
Ask them why and have them coherently formulate thoughtful answers. This will get them thinking and help them with the following lesson. The more engaged and interested they are in the topic, the better the discussion will be.
Feedback to Students
The questions asked in the formative assessment will gauge what prior knowledge the students already have on sensitive social issues that are prevalent in low income areas. Depending on your school and area, the level of awareness will vary. It also will vary on the student. However, these topics sometimes can spark interest in students who tend to be disengaged because these topics are relevant to them. Many students are uninformed about environmental issues. They think about such issues as relating only to plants and animals, because they are unaware that environmental issues also affect human society. This lesson will focus on renewable and non-renewable sources, environmental injustice, the social term "NIMBY," which stands for Not In My Backyard, and relates science and social issues. This class is meant to incorporate college readiness into the lesson since it is very open, discussion-based lecture with the use of different media sources.