Human Impact

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Objective

SWBAT examine the global human impact on the environment through the analysis of two (2) case studies of environmental effects

Big Idea

Students use a case to explore and examine some of the negative impacts that humans have had (and continue to have) on the environment

Lesson Introduction

This lesson uses two cases studies, CFCs and acid rain, to show the sometimes negative effects of human influence on the environment. We joke around in class a lot about how, whenever there's a question about, as New York state puts it, human impact, the answer is universally - "humans are destroying the environment." While this is often a (sad) fact, students also learn in this lesson in what specific ways and what actions are resulting in these harmful environmental effects. Similarly to most of my lessons on the BetterLesson platform, each case study has a few Regents-based (our end of year state assessment) problems for students to try out. As a final note, there are no specific materials that students should need for this lesson outside of the provided materials on this webpage. 

[Note: For embedded comments, checks for understanding (CFUs), and key additional information on transitions and key parts of the lesson not necessarily included in the below narrative, please go to the comments in the following document: 6.13 - Pollution (Entire Lesson w/comments). Additionally, if you would like all of the resources together in a PDF document, that can be accessed as a complete resource here: 6.13 - Pollution (Entire Lesson)[PDF]. Finally, students may need their Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] for parts of the lesson (a document used widely in the New York State Earth Science Regents course) as well.]

Do Now

10 minutes

Students come in silently and complete the (attached) Do Now. In this case, the Do Now is a review of material and some "hot standards" from Unit 1 (Rocks & Minerals), Unit 2 (Earth's Surface), and some needed review on material from the former unit on Meteorology. After time expires (anywhere from 2-4 minutes depending on the type of Do Now and number of questions), we collectively go over the responses (usually involving a series of cold calls and/or volunteers), before I call on a student and ask them to read the objective out loud to start the lesson.

As a general note, the Do Now serves a few purposes:

  1. It serves as a general review of the previous day's material;
  2. It is a re-activation of student knowledge to get them back into "student mode" and get them thinking about science after transitioning from another content area or alternate class;
  3. as a strategy for reviewing material students have struggled with (for example, using this as a focused review for material that they have struggled with on unit assessments or recent quizzes); and,
  4. It is an efficient and established routine for entering the classroom that is repeated each day with fidelity (I never let students enter the classroom talking. While it may seem potentially severe to have students enter silently each day, this is both a school wide expectation and a key component of my classroom. In many respects, I find that students readily enjoy the focus that starting with a quiet classrooms brings each day).

Case Study I - CFCs

10 minutes

The first case study, CFCs, deals with the problem of ozone depletion, and the successful ways in which society has recognized and implemented a solution to an environmental issue. As this lesson starts, I have students get together with their seat mate (the desks in my classroom are such that two students sit at one desk) and complete the first case study exercise on the first two pages of the Case Study - CFCs resource. This lesson has particular relevance in relation to our previous unit on Insolation and the various types of electromagnetic energy emitted by the Sun. Students are asked to read the information together and answer the embedded questions, which allows them the appropriate background knowledge to start on the first mini-practice (more information in the section below!).

Mini-Practice

10 minutes

The Practice I section in this lesson is, like the vast majority of questions found in all of my classwork and homework, is 100% Regents-based, and is one of two practice-based sections that students will uncover through the course of this lesson. All of the questions come from prior Regents examinations. Likewise, as I try to generally do with all of my lessons, the questions are mostly organized to get increasingly more difficult and increase in complexity, which is why the harder questions tend to come toward the end. For whatever reason, the Regents loves to ask questions about source regions and air masses, so I truly think the practice is worthwhile, considering this is something they'll see over and over and over again in the future. 

In terms of student work habits, I tend to sometimes make this decision in the moment, and as a response of what I know about the students and how they're processing the material on, but I'll either ask them to work independently, in partners, or (sometimes) give them the option. Usually, before starting practice, we tend to go over some steps for self-help ("What should you do if you're stuck?"), and I might reference a previously used multiple-choice or free response strategy in order to build their skills while simultaneously learning content (as an example - one popular one we always use - "If you aren't sure what the right answer is, see if you can eliminate some wrong answer choices"). I tend to circulate for compliance and then hone in on specific students while they're doing this. 

After about 10 minutes, we go over their responses. Students who finish early are encouraged to work on the exit ticket (resource below) and double-check their responses. We use a combination of strategies (active voting, cold calling, popsicle sticks, volunteers) to go over the responses, where students correct their work and ask any clarifying questions. 

Case Study II - Acid Rain

10 minutes

The second case study in this lesson is on Acid Rain. Much like the first, this case study is presented in the same manner. There is a block of text that explains what acid rain is, and how humans have negatively contributed to its formation in the atmosphere. Their task is identical to the first case study - they work in groups to read through the information together, being sure to annotate or note any problem areas or questions they have. Similarly, there is only one embedded question for them to tackle, but after their reading, they have four (4) total questions to answer which require them to summarize the key information from the text. If students finish early, they're urged to start working on the next practice section of the lesson.

Mini-Practice

10 minutes

The Practice II section in this lesson is the second part of the Regents-based work that students see in this lesson. All of the questions come from prior Regents examinations. Likewise, as I try to generally do with all of my lessons, the questions are mostly organized to get increasingly more difficult and increase in complexity, which is why the harder questions tend to come toward the end. For whatever reason, the Regents loves to ask questions about source regions and air masses, so I truly think the practice is worthwhile, considering this is something they'll see over and over and over again in the future. 

In terms of student work habits, I tend to sometimes make this decision in the moment, and as a response of what I know about the students and how they're processing the material on, but I'll either ask them to work independently, in partners, or (sometimes) give them the option. Usually, before starting practice, we tend to go over some steps for self-help ("What should you do if you're stuck?"), and I might reference a previously used multiple-choice or free response strategy in order to build their skills while simultaneously learning content (as an example - one popular one we always use - "If you aren't sure what the right answer is, see if you can eliminate some wrong answer choices"). I tend to circulate for compliance and then hone in on specific students while they're doing this. 

After about 10 minutes, we go over their responses. Students who finish early are encouraged to work on the exit ticket (resource below) and double-check their responses. We use a combination of strategies (active voting, cold calling, popsicle sticks, volunteers) to go over the responses, where students correct their work and ask any clarifying questions. 

Exit Ticket & Closing

10 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I have students complete the daily Exit Ticket. For the sake of time, I have students grade them communally, with a key emphasis on particular questions and items that hit on the key ideas of the lesson (Note: This usually manifests as students self-grading, or having students do a "trade and grade" with their table partners). After students grade their exit tickets, they usually pass them in (so that I can analyze them) and track their exit ticket scores on a unit Exit Ticket Tracker. 

After students take a few seconds to track their scores, we usually wrap up in a similar way. I give students time to pack up their belongings, and I end the class at the objective, which is posted on the whiteboard, and ask students two questions:

  • Do you feel that you mastered the objective for the day?
  • Can you reiterate one thing you learned about (in this case, information on the CFCs or acid rain, etc.)?

Once I take 2-3 individual responses (sometimes I'll ask for a binary "thumbs up/thumbs down" or something similar), I have students leave once the bell rings.