Lesson Plan Background: Pollution and Global Climate Change
This lesson about pollution focuses on greenhouse gases. Students will learn about greenhouse gases and how they affect ecosystems. The students will understand the greenhouse affect and how their actions relate increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. In the lesson, students will define the properties of an ecosystem, learn to identify the ecosystems they live in and how they interact within an ecosystem. The students will be able to apply what they learned on a local and global level.
The students will be assessed for understanding throughout the lesson as well as at the conclusion of the lesson through activities and discussion. Because the concepts presented are complicated for 4th – 5th grade students, the lesson requires the teacher to continually check for understanding. More detail on the assessments is provided in the “Assessment” section.
This lesson also develops skills that should help the students meet Colorado State standards. These skills reach the sciences as well as language arts and extend across many specific standards such as reasoning and articulating ideas. The students are encouraged to express ideas and interact with each other through discussion and small group activities while reasoning through challenging concepts. This allows the teacher to engage the students and also allows the students to become more comfortable expressing ideas. The students are also expected to propose actions to reduce pollution at the end of the lesson which allows them to think independently and to feel that they can be leaders and effect change.
The first building block of the lesson is to understand ecosystems. To help the students gain a solid understanding, we will do a demonstration to help them define the properties of ecosystems. We start by showing the students a bowl and ask them if this is an ecosystem. Then we add items such as water, a fish, rocks, plants, etc. At each step we will ask if we have created an ecosystem. After we build our ecosystem we will discuss the result and summarize the activity to ensure that the students have a clear understanding of ecosystems. We will also ask the students to identify other ecosystems including the ecosystems they live in; they should be able to identify their role in their ecosystem. This should bring the lesson home for the students and should also cement the definition of an ecosystem. This lesson also requires students to think about human roles in ecosystems.
The second activity, which is the bulk of our lesson, is a discussion of pollution. The students will be given a piece of butcher paper with a few ecosystem components (mountains, small stream and river) drawn on it as well as a list of the basic requirements (an energy source, food water, shelter, etc). The students will then design their ultimate town. They will be...