Earth Day

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SWBAT learn the history of Earth Day and make a plan to reduce, reuse, or recycle.

Big Idea

Students read a short passage about the history of Earth Day and discover its importance. After answering a few short questions, they work together to determine how their choices can impact change.

Unit Introduction

Celebrations aren’t always about planning and hosting a party. Oftentimes in our classroom, we celebrate by learning the “how” and “why” behind important holidays or recognize student achievements. The lessons housed within this unit showcase work completed on a variety of “celebration days.” Several include reproducibles that were made with graphics from Kevin and Amanda’s Fonts, Teaching in a Small Town, and Melonheadz Illustrating.

Setting a Purpose

I always try to leave something meaningful for students to do while I’m out. Being out on a holiday is no exception. Earth Day fell in the middle of an extended unit on the Titanic. While I didn’t want to give up an entire day in our unit, it was important to me to spend some time learning about the holiday. Knowing I would be out that day, I planned a short activity that would give students a brief overview of the holiday and a quick activity geared to getting them involved. While a portion of the lesson was devoted to whole group learning, the second part allowed students to work in partners.

Whole Group Practice

10 minutes

Before coming to the meeting area, students picked up their pencils and a packet. I asked that the substitute explain the purpose of today before reading the passage with the class. They talked about Earth Day, what they had learned in the past about the holiday, and discussed any questions they had. Then they read the passage out loud as a class.

Once finished, they worked together to answer the three short questions at the end making sure that they were written in complete sentences. Questions one and two were answered as a group as they were fairly literal and their answers did not vary. However, students were asked to talk over question three with their partners before writing their own answers. When finished, partners shared their responses with the group. 

Partner Practice

15 minutes

Partners completed the remainder of the packet together. First they made a verbal list of the items they used within a day. Then they wrote down how they could reduce that number or recycle or reuse many of the items to cut down on trash. Students were encouraged to make an exhaustive list and be creative!

Last, students wrote a short paragraph detailing how they planned to help save the Earth. They could use ideas from the previous reduce, reuse, recycle page or come up with their own independent ideas. 


5 minutes

When all groups were finished, I asked that they share part of the work completed in partners. They could choose which portion they shared – either items from their list on page three or a paragraph from their plan on page four. Afterwards, students turned their work in to the tray for me to review when I returned.