Why is Coal so Important?

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Objective

SWBAT compare the economic and environmental costs of coal production.

Big Idea

By 8th grade students can grasp how coal has both an environmental as well as an economic impact.

Anticipate

15 minutes

I start the lesson with the article Coal Explained: Coal Prices and Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Students read the article together to generate vocabulary words and to ask questions about the article. Then they read it a second time to make a list of advantages of coal and disadvantages of coal. I ask students to annotate their reading using a compare contrast strategy. Students use symbols to annotate. Advantages of coal is a + and disadvantages of coal is -. In addition I ask them to use their texting language to annotate. If they feel it is a critical advantage or disadvantage, they are allowed to hash tag the + and - symbols. To support student-led learning, I explain that I also want them to use a series of "!!!!"  if they feel the information is important. 

When the article is read, I use a T chart format to help the students organize the information. The column headings are Advantages and Disadvantages. Students place their annotations in one or the other columns. If they feel there is interesting information that is not an advantage or disadvantage, They include it on the bottom of the T-chart. 

RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain- specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.

Collaborate

20 minutes

Each group gets a US Coal map. I use the maps from the USGS Site. I like the USGS map entitled, Coal Fields of the Conterminous United States because the colors are easy to understand. In addition, there are graphs on the bottom of the chart that I use in the lesson. 

I tell them to take a “tour” of the maps and look for interesting information. I ask if they have any questions or if they have any “Wow!” statements. My intention is to allow the students the opportunity to look over the maps before completing the activity. This helps them become familiar with the information. In some classes I have to teach them to read the x and y-axes to better understand the information.

I ask the question, “Why are the coal resources different in the states?” My intention is for the students to understand that geo-science processes are at work and resources are unevenly distributed.My students have learned about fossil fuels in former grades and have completed my Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Sources lesson so they have background information. 

My strategy is to complete a statistic jigsaw to examine a coal map of the USA to gather important statistics. My intention is to support my students as they work independently. There are a series of graphs on the coal maps that outline specific coal production vocabulary and information. I assign each group one graph to analyze to report back to the class on the class T-Chart. The graphs I ask students to look at include Coal Production by State, US Coal Production by Year, Sulfur Emissions vs. Btu/pound, Btu/Pound vs. Different Ranks of Coal. 

 

 

I set up the class in groups of three. The first group examines the poster of coal in USA with the types of coal and the energy output measured in Btu per million ton. The second examines the map of coal and the calorific values of coal. The third group examines the map and the calorific value vs. the sulfur dioxide emitted per million Btu. I have taught my Measuring the British Thermal Unit lesson and students have had experience with the term. 

MS-ESS3-1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.

SP-4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data Use graphical displays of large sets of data to identify temporal relationships.

MS-ESS3-1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.

MS ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. 

Critically Think

20 minutes

My strategy is to allow students the opportunity to determine how the US coal supplies may dwindle. Throughout this lesson students ask me, "How much coal is left?" At this point I give them the opportunity to determine the answer for themselves. Students go to the computer with a partner and read the article, Coal Explained: How Much Coal is Left?. My strategy is to promote students' discovery of how hard it is to make the determination. I emphasize the statistics and ask students to add the information on their T-charts.

I ask students to read the Coal Explained: How Much Coal is Left article again. In the last paragraph it is stated, “Coal production will increase by approximately 0.3% per year from 2012–2040.”  I ask, 

  1. Why will more coal need to be produced?
  2. What is the role of technology in coal production?
  3. How will an increase in coal production have an effect on climate change?

 

MS ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. 

MS-ESS-3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.

Crosscutting Ideas: Cause and Effect

MS-ESS3-1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.

Communicate

15 minutes

My intention is to have students combine what they have learned in a Position Summary. One of my favorite reading educators is Doug Buehl. He and his team have written informative books and offer reading and writing teaching organizers. I use his Reading Strategies Reproducibles, Buehl (pg 12) to help my students organize ideas before writing a summary.

Buel's Proposition/Support Outline includes different sections in which the students record their answers. 1. Facts, 2. Statistics, 3. Examples 4. Expert Authority and Logic and Reasoning. I changed his outline to add Common Core standards. In addition to Expert Authority, I asked students to write "quotes". Instead of Logic and Reasoning, I asked students to look for interesting information in the form of statistics. I like to use Interesting Information because my strategy is to allow the students the opportunity to advance their own learning. 

The summary prompt is, "Do you think coal is the energy of the future?" Students are required to use information from the activities. They report quotes with citations. The advanced organizer is a fantastic for students to organize their ideas because they have lots of ideas to choose from. In addition, one sentence must be the opposite of what your position. Use the transitions although or however and use evidence from the article.“

As you check out my Coal Student Samples, you'll see the T charts we used in the class, a sample of the writing organizer and the completed summaries.