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This is the third part of our unit plan for our Middle School Methods course. This lesson plan is included in our month long unit on conservation. The lesson will integrate science and social studies. Our eighth grade students will use computers to research past and present landfills in Chicago. Based on their research, students will brainstorm ideas for how to reduce landfill waste in the future, which they will display on an informational poster they create and present in a 5-minute presentation. As a homework-based extension activity, students will compare their understandings about landfills in Chicago to an article about a village in India that depends on landfills to survive.
Policies evolve as we gain more insight about the world around us.
We can learn from our past in order to make informed decisions for our future.
We have an effect on the world around us, and we can make a difference.
How do we affect our ecosystem?
What can we learn from the past that can help us plan for our future?
In what ways can cultures be compared and what can we learn from our comparisons?
13.B.3e Identify advantages and disadvantages of natural resource conservation and management programs.
Illinois Performance Descriptors:
13.B. Stage H 2. Explore natural resource conservation and management programs, calculating home/school electric or water usage, etc., to propose plans for increased efficiency, evaluating their effect on natural resources and the local economy, researching the past, current, and future local landfill plans or examining state wildlife programs for controlled breeding or population maintenance.
Common Core Standards:
RH.6-8.7. Integrate visual information (e.g. in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
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Students will know:
- Individually, students will understand that landfills in Chicago have changed from the past to the present and be able to prove this by verbally citing at least two internet sources.
- Individually, students will understand that there have been various methods of waste reduction developed in Chicago and be able to prove this by verbally citing at least one internet source.
- As a small group, students will understand the following vocabulary words and be able to accurately use at least five of them in their oral presentation: conservation, landfill, renewable energy, policy, waste reduction, and recycling.
Students will be able to:
- In small groups, students will be able to orally compare and contrast a minimum of five online resources on waste reduction and resource conservation methods to determine advantages and disadvantages.
- In small groups, students will be able to collaborate with classmates to verbally brainstorm at least one idea for how to reduce landfill waste in the future.
- In small groups, students will able to represent the group’s landfill reduction proposal through visual representation on a poster that includes at least one visual (photo, graph, or chart) and through oral explanation during a 5-minute presentation to the class.
Students will use their research on Chicago landfills to brainstorm potential solutions for reducing waste. As a team, students will design an informational poster that shares the disadvantages they see in our current landfills system along with a short description of their alternative plan. Students will be asked to integrate visual information by using one of the following forms: a chart, a graph, a map, or a photograph. After each team has completed their poster, the students will have time to reflect upon and complete a rubric for each team’s poster.
The teacher will begin the lesson by using a visual teaching strategy. A photo from a landfill will be displayed on the overhead projector. The teacher will ask the students to study the photo for one minute and to write down observations they make about the photo. The teacher will then display a second landfill photo and ask the students to study it for one minute and to write down any new observations. The teacher will then lead a discussion of the observations made by the students. The teacher will use the following questions to scaffold the conversation: What is your initial reaction to these photos? What did the photos have in common? What was different about them? When do you think these photos were taken? Where would you guess they were taken?
ELL students will be given additional visuals and website links (with graphics) that depict resource conservation methods and what landfills are/look like. ELL students will also be assigned a “buddy” within their small groups to partner with them during the research activity and to aid their understanding of the new vocabulary.
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After the hook activity and discussion, the teacher will briefly introduce new information, concepts, and vocabulary about landfills and natural resource conservation. Teacher input will include:
- Periodically referring back to questions asked about the Chicago landfill photos to stimulate prior knowledge and discussion and to help students build connections.
- Introducing the new vocabulary (conservation, landfill, renewable energy, policy, waste reduction, and recycling) and providing appropriate definitions and meanings. The teacher will then describe the research and presentation assignment.
- The teacher will note that the students must use a minimum of six sources, that they must create one proposal for the future of Chicago landfills based on the evidence from their research, and that their poster must contain an argument for why the current plan does not work along with a graphic in the form of a chart, graph, or photo.
- Modeling research expectations by demonstrating how to find and utilize one of the bookmarked web links.
- Posing additional question prompts to check for understanding of the new concepts, the assignment, and the expectations for each group.
Student Guided Practice:
In assigned groups, students will use computers to research past and present landfills in Chicago. Based on their research, each group will brainstorm ideas for how to reduce landfill waste in the future, which they will display on an informational poster they create. Each group will present their poster in a 5-minute presentation. The teacher will:
- Monitor each group to check for active participation from all group members and accurate understandings of new vocabulary/concepts during brainstorming
- Provide scaffolding to each group to guide their brainstorming and discussions and to facilitate feedback from all group members.
Students will each be given a copy of the article from the New York Times titled In a Landfill, Locals Cling to Way of Life. Students will read this article at home and write a short reaction in their journal using the following questions to inspire their writing:
- What differences do you see between how we view our landfills and how the villagers in Karuvadikuppam view theirs?
- Explain why you think the woman at the end of the article said, “It’s not a major issue.”
- How do you think the villagers of Karuvadikuppam would react to your solution for reducing Chicago’s landfills? Why?
Each group will present their informational poster during a 5-minute presentation. The teacher will ask the class and each group questions during the poster presentations to check for group and class understandings and to facilitate class feedback and discussion. After each team has completed their poster, the students will have time to utilize their journals to reflect upon and complete a rubric for each team’s poster.
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If you made it to the end, wow! That was a lot of reading! Please feel free to use this lesson plan in your own classroom or adapt the concept for your own unit. This is just one of many work samples that I hope to share throughout the semester. In the next couple of weeks, I am going to focus on introducing some of the members of my cohort who have helped me create such beautiful projects. If there is ever anything about the graduate experience that you’re curious about, leave a comment and I’ll try to address it in an upcoming blog post. Have a great week!