I start the lesson and add "cheesy factor" to the day by playing the Captain Planet theme song. I ask the students to predict what today's lesson might be about. I do a quick Whip Around to allow students to give their thoughts.
After hearing students' responses, I explain that we will spend the day researching and learning about our own "planetary heroes".
I pass out copies of the books, Champions for Change and Heroes of the Environment and allow students about 10 minutes to thumb through the books, comparing the passages and looking for sections that interest them. After time has passed, I ask students to select a passage in one of the books that caught their attention. Once students have chosen a text they read it thoroughly twice, taking notes as they read for the second time.
Now that students are familiar with the work of an environmental "hero", they use the Biography Poster Printable created by Scholastic, to summarize their work.
After everyone has finished their poster, I have the students form Inside, Outside Circles so that they can share their work. With each round, I call attention to a particular section on the posters, and students summarize the work they did on that section for their circle partner. It's a great way to assess my students because I have the chance to hear all of them working with the content and see the quality of their work simultaneously, simply by walking around the circumference of the outside circle!
After sharing information about their planetary hero, I have students visit the Hero Creator* website to create a "super-hero" version of the person they read about. In addition to creating the hero, they use the same site to create a "villain" that represents the environmental issue that was faced by this hero.
They customize every part of their hero and villain, including facial features, costumes, backgrounds, etc to demonstrate understanding of the text they read. After creating their hero and villain, they download them and use these to create a poster that describes the environmental issue that was presented and the things this person has done to help solve it.
*For information on how to use the Hero Creator, see my screencast
Students self assess their own progress, as well as their last partner from the Inside, Outside Circle, using the Hero / Villain Poster Checklist. I also use this checklist to assess their understanding, effort, and overall quality of their final project.