What is Fracking?

12 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT compare the benefits of fracking with the environmental hazards in an effort to answer the question, "Should we frack? "

Big Idea

Have you heard of fracking? What is it and why is it in the news? Check out this science literacy lesson to learn how fracking impacts the environment.


15 minutes

I begin the lesson asking, "Has anyone heard of fracking? What is it?" My intention is to determine background information. My students have learned about natural gas in my lesson Exploring Natural Gas and in several classes we discussed fracking. Some students have read about fracking and discussed it with families. I like to show the National Geographic video What is Fracking to help promote an understanding of the process of fracking. 

After the movie, I ask students to write a reflection to assess student understanding of fracking. In addition, I want to understand what the students learned from the movie. 

I ask three questions:

  1. What surprised you about fracking?
  2. What was the most interesting information?

Table groups discuss their answers. Using individual white boards, students shares the ideas from the different table groups. Students have a chance to ask me questions about the movie.

Practice 1 Asking Questions and Defining Problems to identify and/or clarify evidence and/or the premise(s) of an argument. 


5 minutes

My next strategy is to offer the students contemporary media references about an environmental issue. I ask the students to first read the article Quit dragging Feet on Fracking, Chicago Sun Times to look for vocabulary words. We write the words on my word wall and I ask the students if they know any of the words. I allow the students the opportunity to define the known words. If no one know the word, I ask them to analyze roots and context clues. In this article, many students wrote the work "administrative". No one knew what it meant so I said, "Has any one heard of the word administer? " Most kids did not. I pulled up dictionary.com on the Smart Board. I used the definition. I asked students to use the word administer in a sentence with the word test. Then pulled up the article on the Smart Board. 

The word wall is used as a reference for the students as they write a summary at the end of the lesson. 

The second time the students annotate the article. I ask students to annotate the article by making three annotations: a "#+" if the information is an advantage of fracking, a "#-" if it is a disadvantage of fracking and "!!!!!"  if they felt the information was interesting. I use symbols as a strategy of annotating to promote an understanding of finding important information from a source. In addition, it is fun. Check out the Fracking Annotations to see how my students completed the task. 

Students complete a T-chart with two colums. The first column is Let's Do It the second column is Forget It! Using information from the movie and the article, students complete the T-chart. 


SP8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information Gather, read, and synthesize information from multiple appropriate sources and assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias of each publication and methods used, and describe how they are supported or not supported by evidence.

SP1 Asking Questions and Defining Problems to identify and/or clarify evidence and/or the premise(s) of an argument.

RST.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


15 minutes

In the last part of the lesson, I show them a clip from a family with water problems that live near a fracking facility. The movie is very emotional and visually stunning. My only hesitation in showing this is there is a very strong emotional component that sways students. I explain my hesitation in showing the movie to them by reviewing the positive economic value of fracking, because it is my job to offer both sides of an issue and let them decide. 

I take questions and we discuss the movie and the impacts of fracking. I also pull up the History channel movie shown in the Explore Section to show the  video of the levels of rock and the water table. 


10 minutes

Students now write a position summary using the T-chart with the positive and negative information. They must use evidence from their T-chart to write a five-seven sentence position summary. They are also required to state an opposing position to refute it. I teach them to use the transitions "Although" or "However" to help them write the opposing position. Looking at my students samples, Fracking Student Samples you can read student summaries.

SP7 Engaging in Argument from Evidence Compare and critique two arguments on the same topic and analyze whether they emphasize similar or different evidence and/or interpretations of facts.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.