March 22nd World Water Day

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TSWBAT write an opinion piece to support their point of view on participation with, "The Water Project," following a lesson about World Water Day.

Big Idea

Water, Water, is NOT Everywhere...

Warm Up

15 minutes

Although World Water Day fell on a Saturday this year, it's an important day to share with the kids.  I begin by talking about the importance of clean water and show The Water Challenge video.  I also display the Freshwater Scarcity image.  They students will write an essay stating their opinion on a water-related project.  The knowledge gathered from the warm up video and image will provide them with information that helps support their paper.  

The video is an introduction to the state of water in our world TheWaterProject video as well as a way to motivate schools to participate in the challenge. After it's over, we discuss the horror of never having enough water to drink or bathe in, as so many experience in our world.  The conversation then moves to the challenge, and if it would be hard to drink nothing but water for two weeks.  My students immediately tell me I can't do it because I'm too dependent on Diet Coke.  This is not a pleasant thing to hear, but truthfully, they see me drinking Diet Coke daily, and overwhelmed me with My Diet Coke gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week, so I understand their doubt. 

As I put this lesson together, I thought about the reality of dropping all sources of liquid from my diet except water for the next two weeks, and putting the money I'd have spent in a jar. Explaining The Water Project and Jar.  It wasn't hard to come to the conclusion that it would be absolutely possible, and I was up for the challenge.

But, back to the kids....for them to hear that their teacher felt so strongly about the cause she was, indeed, giving up Diet Coke for two weeks, was a good motivator.  They told me I couldn't do it, I would give up before Wed, etc. but they were excited.  I couldn't wait to participate, but also felt determined to show my students that I wasn't dependent on soda. *On Day 3 without Diet Coke I was so sick I didn't know what I was going to do.  This was totally unexpected, and led to a discussion on dependency and caffeine.  I advise stopping soda gradually.....

It must be mentioned that although the hope of TheWaterProject is that people will sign up for the entire program, and receive their materials and incentives, I wasn't prepared to lead this ambitious task for my entire school.  Instead, I resolved to be accountable to myself, invite my students to participate by saving their "non-water drink money," and sending whatever was collected to TheWaterProject at the end of two weeks. 


25 minutes

It's time to show the kids a comparison between the amounts of Saltwater and Freshwater on Earth.  This is vividly achieved through an easy demonstration using a two liter bottle, a cup, and some blue food coloring.

Fill a two liter soda bottle with water and a couple of drops of blue food coloring.  Show the students the filled container and tell them that they're looking at the amount of water on the Earth. Next, measure out 50 ml of water and put in a clear plastic cup.  They will be surprised to see that THIS amount is all of the freshwater on Earth.  That's not the end of the story, however.  From that 50 ml cup, 70% has to be removed leaving less than 1% of water in the cup.  The 70% represents freshwater trapped in glaciers or too deep in the ground to be used.  The remainder in the cup is Earth's total water supply for agriculture, drinking and washing, and freshwater ecosystems. Here is a video of my student explaining the demonstration, and Pointing out the demonstration model with the image.

After this sinks in, I show them the Total Global Saltwater and Freshwater Estimates Visual.

In the video, it stated that five gallon buckets weighing about forty lbs a piece have to be carried over miles in order for the people to have clean water.  I weighed books beforehand, then had students come forward Hold those books until it became tiresome.  As students worked on the closure activity, I invited each row to come forward and the students to hold the books if they hadn't been one of the earlier test subjects.  Another volunteer to hold 40 lbs.  Most picked up the books and said, "This is light!" until they'd been holding them for about 1 minute and 1/2. Eye-opening.

They take a few moments to jot down thoughts about what they've just seen.  I encourage discussion with others sitting nearby.  As they write opinion essays in the next section, the combination of images from the video, watching the demonstration, then talking it over with classmates, will inspire the creation of knowledge based, yet heartfelt essays.

Closure and Extension

15 minutes

Take the classroom pledge or think of an alternative to contributing to this day.  I don't suggest making posters, or anything else for that matter, because I'm hoping that everyone will sign the pledge and participate.  At the same time, you take a pledge because you believe in something- NOT because someone tells you to do it. 

On the Smart Board is an assignment for them to write two paragraphs.  Everyone writes this first Why The Water Project is Important.

Reasons why there needs to be such a project (as The Water Project.)

Then they select one of the last two to write about, depending on their choice of their contribution with the water project.

Will you participate?  Why are you making this choice?


What can you do to help, if you don't want to participate?

The students have the information on Freshwater Stress Scarcity and Total Global Saltwater from the previous sections of the lesson, and will cite this textual evidence to support their points of view.  After they write these two paragraphs they give them to me.  Although opinion pieces, "Why I'm Participating" they are expected to answer the questions thoughtfully about Why The Water Project is Important and completely taking care to explain their position with supporting statements, which is how they're evaluated.  Here are The Essays of the Participants.  I 'll tally the results and see how many kids are on board with me as far as giving up drinks other than water. By the end of the first day, someone had already given up their juice box and my $1.11 from the morning's "non" diet Coke was joined by $1.00.

They are also given a Water Usage Chart to keep track of their daily water usage for one week. Here is a Water Usage Chart example.  Another example of the Water Usage Chart. On the back of that paper I asked them to keep track of the amount of drinks other than water they were giving up.

The Water Project Days

30 minutes

In this section I have pictures to show how our challenge progressed throughout the two weeks.

Animoto of our Water Project Days!