students will recall events from Dr. Seuss’ story, The Lorax, and
make connections to environmental issues affecting their lives.
students will be expected to reflect on the facts of the story and respond
verbally stating the inferences they made in order to devise alternative
endings or possible solutions.
the science talk, the students will verbalize their knowledge and feelings
relating to the aesthetics of the environment and the effects of mass
consumption and pollution.
will make judgments and begin to observe positive actions that will preserve
the condition of the earth.
students will gather their information from their “Litter Logs” and
discuss their findings among their peers.
students will collaborate with one another and determine similarities in
groups will summarize their ideas and create a poster board in which they
make a collage and articulate or illustrate their ideas.
students will make distinctions between items that are classified as
garbage, plastic, paper, and aluminum by sorting and placing the items in
the correct container.
students will reflect upon the activity in a class discussion and identify
the main ways garbage can be minimized.
students will recognize their role in protecting and conserving the
environment by responding to questions prompted by the students and teacher.
to the National Science Standards:
Content Standard C: As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop an understanding of…
Content Standard A: As a result of
their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop the abilities
necessary to do a scientific inquiry and an understanding about scientific
Correlation to the PA Proposed Academic Standards for Science and Technology:
public schools shall teach, challenge, and support every student to realize his
or her maximum potential and to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to recognize
the earth’s different water resources
- Pennsylvania's public schools shall teach, challenge and support every student
to realize his or her maximum potential and to acquire the knowledge and skills
needed to recognize and use the elements of scientific inquiry to solve
I began to collect information about recycling, I already had a good idea about
the structure of my unit. I knew
the general manner in which the unit was to be taught, therefore, I created
lessons that would correlate to the inquiry approach.
I looked for sources, I chose ones that either gave me the background knowledge
I would need to teach or ones that listed ideas for lesson plans.
The first source I found was on the internet.
Within the website, there were tons of lesson plans related to recycling.
I was able to find four sources that correlated with the approach I would
be taking. Many of the lessons
focused on the students creating new products out of recycled items.
While I found those to be a nice way to incorporate “hands on”
activities, it was not the direction I intended for the unit.
Other lessons required the students to collect trash and sort the items
into categories. I thought that
these lessons addressed the topic of recycling in the most appropriate way for
fourth graders. What I concluded
after I viewed each lesson was that my unit touched on all the ideas discussed.
Seeing this reassured me that my unit would be valuable and effective in
the science classroom.
Web address: www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/enved/Rec_Lessons
my second source, I used the third edition of the, Project Wild K-12
Curriculum and Activity Guide. I
felt very fortunate to have received the book when I did because there were
several activities pertaining to recycling.
I found one, in particular, called “Litter We Know” on pages 434 and
435. The lesson itself was very
good, but I decided to use the lesson for the background information that it
provided. Reading the information
helped me to recognize some secondary effects that result from not recycling.
The need to discuss the implications garbage has on wild life became more
prevalent. The way I decided to
include that information was to pass it on to the students during the summary
and hope that it will be yet another proponent for recycling.
note: children’s misconceptions could not be found.
people believe that they should not be charged to recycling services because it
is “the right thing to do” or because the waste companies are making a
significant amount of money from selling recyclables.
Although people are making the right choice when they recycle, their
recyclables still need to be collected by special vehicles, processed at
facilities that cost millions of dollars to build and transported markets that
are as far away as Asia. All this
requires equipment and labor, which translates into cost.
2. If a package says “recyclable” or if it has “chasing arrows” that it is recyclable in your community.
all materials that are “recyclable” are able to be recycled…
Thus, it is extremely important to find out what materials can be
recycled in your community’s recycling program and purchase products that can
means that the material has the potential to be recycled, but is only recycled
after it is collected, processed, marketed and manufactured into a new product.
“Recycled-content” means the product is made out of recyclables that
were remanufactured into new products.
*all information about the misconceptions came from, www.hcdoes.org/sw/3rfaq.htm
to be learned: This
lesson will help students to identify their role in the environment as well as
what they can do to impact the condition of the earth.
The students will discover the impact that their actions have on the
environment through witnessing the actions of the characters in the book, The
students will recall events from Dr. Seuss’ story, The Lorax, and make
connections to environmental issues affecting their lives.
The students will be expected to reflect on the facts of the story and
respond verbally stating the inferences they made in order to devise alternative
endings or possible solutions.
teacher will need the book, The Lorax, and a note card with the
you think that you have ever acted like a Once-Ler? If so how?
you agree with the Lorax and his efforts to keep the land clean? Why or why not?
there any way that the Once-Lers could have made the Thneeds without being
ENGAGE 2 - SCIENCE TALK
Concepts to be
This lesson will determine the amount of knowledge students have
concerning the issue of recycling.
It is important for a teacher to assess students’ prior knowledge
pertaining to a subject before a mini-unit is conducted.
During the Science Talk, the students will verbalize their knowledge and
feelings relating to the aesthetics of the environment and the effects of mass
consumption and pollution. Students
will make judgments and begin to observe positive actions that will preserve the
condition of the earth.
The teacher will need a poster board with the questions clearly written
for the Science Talk.
Body of the
would the earth look like if people littered everywhere?
you ever do anything to “litter” the earth?
changes can we make to help reduce the amount of trash in the world?
we sort our trash in a way that would help us re-use products?
happens to the trash when we recycle?
recycling helpful or is it not worth our time?
I intentionally asked the kids questions that they might not have considered as they took notes in their Litter Logs. The discussion questions were more thought provoking. The students were encouraged to vocalize their ideas and explore their feelings regarding environmental awareness.
I first began the lesson, I made references back to the book we had read on the
previous day. I opened the talk by
asking them to recall the characters in The Lorax.
I encouraged them to select a character they best identified with and
explain why. This gave me an idea
as to where they stood on issues pertaining to the environment.
The kids were very honest. Many
students admitted that they often act like Once-Lers, not thinking about how
their present actions might affect the future.
Some of their comments were, “A lot of times I don’t mean to litter,
but I do.” Other students said
that, “they forget or litter by accident.”
From there, I asked how they feel once they realize that they had
littered. Many said comments such
as, "I feel bad.” Others
mentioned that they “go back and pick it up.”
Their honesty and openness along with their willingness to hold
themselves accountable made me realize that my unit would build upon their
convictions and hopefully, enhance their awareness.
get them thinking about the positive differences that individuals can make to
evoke change, I questioned them as to whether or not they were in agreement with
the Lorax and his concern for the land. All
the children said that the Lorax was smart and a good predictor of the future.
They also said that the Once-Lers should have listened to the Lorax’s
warnings and thought about more than immediate gratification.
When asked to describe the personality traits of the Once-Lers, they
chose to use adjectives like, “greedy, self-centered, and careless.”
next step in the lesson was to lead them into the science talk questions.
I had the students form opinions and judge whether or not the Lorax was
justified in his adamant opposition to the Thneed business.
The kids quickly responded in the affirmative stating that the business
created pollution, harmed animals, and destroyed all the Truffala trees.
In order to relate the book to their lives, I asked the question, “What
would the earth look like if all people acted like Once-Lers?”
The class used words like dirty, unclean, and harmful.”
on those comments, I made a transition in the discussion from pollution to
litter and garbage. I asked, “Did
your parents ever tell you, when your room is a mess, that you were ‘living in
your own filth?’” The kids
laughed after I made that statement, which made me recognize that the level in
which I was speaking was both age appropriate and relevant to their lives.
At that point on, we talked about littering in terms of how it happens,
what course of action we can take to prevent it, and the affect it has on the
All of the students were in agreement that something must be done. We talked about their Litter Logs and how it pertained to the cleanliness of the earth. I asked them to reflect upon their findings as well as possible solutions to the problem. Just as I had expected, several students mentioned the term, recycling. Next, I urged them to define the word, recycle, in their own words. Their definitions impressed me when I noticed that they said that recycling involves re-using products along with reducing the amount of trash accumulation. The typical responses given, lended more to the idea of transforming old products into new materials than reducing or re-using materials. This came as no surprise considering that most of the population thinks of recycling in much the same manner.
end of the lesson came when I asked the kids what happens to trash when we
recycle. Again, the majority of the
class was aware that trash does not disappear.
They said that recyclable products get separated and sent to treatment
centers to be used again. They also
said that trash could be either buried or dumped into a new location.
One student, in particular, mentioned that her aunt lives near a “trash
dump.” To provoke further
thought, I asked her and the rest of the class how her aunt feels living near
the rest of the world’s trash. She
said that it is greatly upsetting to her aunt and the close proximity makes her
To conclude, I posed the question, “So, is recycling a helpful concept or not worth the time that it requires?” All the students’ responses were positive and in favor of increasing recycling on a large scale. They even said that recycling could make the earth a nicer and more pleasant place to live in. Overall, the kids felt strongly about preserving and protecting the earth’s ecosystem because it will prove to be beneficial for years to come.
What did you note
about their ideas?
Claim 1: The students
already had an awareness regarding recycling and what it entails.
again and again” “to not waste” “reuse, used products”
considerate by” (meaning conserving food and resources)
down products” “not littering or being wasteful”
Each student seemed to form his or
her own definition of what it means to recycle.
I noticed that when the first person mentioned reusing a product, many
others included extending the life of a product as another component of
It is important that students form a broad, yet accurate perception
concerning recycling. Students need
to learn that recycling involves much more than sorting products and making new
Some students expressed difficulty in their ability to distinguish
items that are recyclable and those that can be reused.
When I asked students what products are considered recyclable and
which can only be reused, the kids responded with the following,
“soda cans can be reused”
“milk bottles are recyclable” “present
bags are a recyclable product”
This showed me that they were having
a hard time separating recyclable products from those that can be reused.
What I was able to learn from their responses was that they may not give
much thought to reusing or reducing products even though they included those
ideas in their definition.
This confusion did not surprise me at all.
In fact, many adults find it difficult to discern between products that
are labeled recyclable and those that are not.
When I looked up common misconceptions about recycling, I found that many
people think that “recycled-content” and recyclable are interchangeable
terms. This was precisely the
problem the fourth graders were having. For
example, the milk bottle may have been made from recycled products or it could
have been labeled a recycled product. In
general, recycled content products were made from recycled goods while
recyclable items only have the potential to be recycled.
Several students stated the idea that trash gets dumped, buried, or
burned “depending on what type of product it is.”
The students in my class seemed to think that the manner in which trash
is dealt with depends on the kind of material each product is made from.
Once that is determined, the trash collectors decide whether they will
dump the trash, bury it in a landfill, or burn it in an incinerator.
I did not expect our conversation to get this in-depth regarding how
trash is handled. Therefore, what I
told the students is that trash can be deposited in each of those fashions, but
that it does not depend on the materials from which the original product is
made. Rather, the trash collectors
use whichever method is most convenient to discard the trash.
Typically, trash products are not sorted in any particular fashion unless
the people responsible for the trash sort and separate the products that can be
Claim 4: Many
students stated in the science talk that they were concerned with more than the
immediate effects cause by littering.
hurts the animals in the trees, like the Lorax.”
air will get polluted and smoky.”
the fish in the water would die.”
pollutes the ground and the earth.”
Most of the students responded with very descriptive phrases
stating the effects that can result if people do not take recycling more
seriously. Several students
mentioned how littering affects animal life because all the toxins from the
garbage get released into the air or absorbed into the ground.
Two students used the Lorax character as an example and said that he was
removed from his habitat in the trees because there were none left.
Other students were concerned with water resources saying, “all the
fish in the water would die” because garbage pollutes the ground and the
earth.” A third portion of the
class chose to mention what occurs in the air from trash and how all other
living creatures are affected when air becomes, “polluted and smoky.”
Justification: I was very pleased to see that the students were aware of the complexity related to recycling. Their statements proved to me that they see the greater purpose and the relevance in acting today so that we can protect tomorrow. After all, if students see any issue as isolated and trivial, they will become indifferent and less likely to advocate change in current practices.
EXPLORE / EXPLAIN
Concepts to be learned:
The students will learn how to collect and analyze data so that they can
draw conclusions from their observations.
The students need to know how to work collaboratively and share data so
that they can articulate their understandings and convey them to others via
The students will gather their information from their “Litter Logs”
and discuss their findings among their peers.
The students will collaborate with one another and determine similarities
in their observations. Next, the
groups will summarize their ideas and create a poster board in which they make a
collage and articulate or illustrate their ideas.
The teacher will need to bring approximately 10 pieces of poster board to
class. The students will need their
“Litter Log” sheets, their trash bag collection, and their art supplies.
Beginning the lesson:
Body of the lesson:
could you have done to minimize the trash?
week progressed, did you have any feelings or emotions that surfaced when
you saw the amounts of trash you were responsible for?
think that the way the world deals with trash should be changed?
Ending the Lesson:
For the third lesson in my mini-unit, I asked the students to bring in their Litter Logs. I then, told them to group themselves with a partner in which they would like to work with. My purpose for the activity was to have the students work collaboratively and analyze their data to find similarities.
Each Litter Log
was treated as a journal. All
groups were expected to share their Logs with their partners and discuss what
they observed during their to two-week trash collection.
After they made connections with their partners, I asked them to think
about several questions posted on the board.
I did this to keep them thinking about concepts pertaining to recycling
as well as staying on-task. To ensure meaningful interaction with one another, I
instructed the students to converse for approximately five minutes before any
illustrations were created.
I was happy to see
how attentive the students were when I gave directions.
I’m not sure if it was because I had devoted so much of my time giving
them suggestions for their posters and allowing them to ask questions, or if
they were just excited to begin their work and use their creativity.
Regardless or why they worked so well, they did and the lesson was quite
Once they began illustrating their posters, I saw their diverse views on recycling. Some children chose to recount the process a recyclable product undergoes, others drew scenarios, and some coined environmental messages. The class worked very hard to create posters addressing a variety of issues. All the groups seemed to pick different topics related to recycling, but all the posters were in favor of environmental awareness and preserving the earth’s resources.
presented their posters, their feelings about the mini-unit were evident.
All the students advocated for a cleaner earth and the responsibility
people have to make change. After
each group presented their posters and discussed their relevance to the unit, I
tried to help them summarize how their thinking and awareness will contribute to
society and create a better world.
I was very proud with how the lesson unfolded. I also think that the kids were happy to have a chance to make sense of the material, draw conclusions, and vocalize their ideas. Since the lesson was useful and the kids’ learning was apparent, I don’t think that I would change much. One area that I could have worked on more was modeling example posters and providing them with numerous techniques or ways to express themselves. Although I did mention several ideas for the posters, many chose to do traditional illustrations. If I were to teach the lesson again, I would prepare several example posters for the kids to see. Hopefully, doing so would encourage multiple learning styles and ways of interpreting global issues.
ELABORATE / EVALUATE
Concepts to be learned:
The students will learn how to distinguish between items that can be
recycled and those that cannot. The
students will sort the items based on their characteristics and the materials
from which they are made.
need to recognize how to sort trash items and which items can be recycled so
that they will be more apt to recycle in the future.
The students will make distinctions between items that are classified as
garbage, plastic, paper, and aluminum by sorting and placing the items in the
correct container. The students
will reflect upon the activity in a class discussion and identify the main ways
garbage can be minimized. The
students will recognize their role in protecting and conserving the environment
by responding to questions posed by their peers and the teacher.
The teacher will need one trash can, three recycling bins, gloves, trash
bags, 20 copies of each of the three hand outs, and a note card with the
discussion questions written clearly. The
students will need their trash collection and coats to go outside.
Beginning the lesson:
Body of the lesson:
- What are some other ways to not be wasteful?
- (talk about reducing, reusing, then recycling)
- Do you think recycling and minimizing trash helps the earth’s air, land, and animals (ecosystems)?
- Are they all connected? Can you name a time or example of how the trash you threw away could have affected the life of an animal?
Ending the lesson:
The fourth day of the recycling unit was really fun. The kids had been looking forward to it all week because they had worked hard to gather a trash collection in which they would use on the final day. Throughout the week, students were approaching me asking if their trash items were acceptable, whether we’d be going outside, and exactly what the day would entail.
Friday came and the
kids maintained their enthusiasm. When
I mentioned that the class would be going outside for the lesson, they grew even
more excited. Another thing that
proved to me that they cared about the unit was the fact that no
one forgot to bring in their trash collection.
Their Litter Logs were much the same.
The whole class was very conscientious and remembered the assignments I
Before the lesson
transpired, I had made sure that everything was laid out and ready to go.
Because the class was anticipating the activity, I knew that I would have
to exhibit exceptional classroom management skills.
Or the final day would not be productive.
Therefore, once everything was ready, I asked the children to quietly get
their coats, return to class, and volunteer to help carry the supplies outside.
Yet again, the kids impressed me with their behavior.
No one got out of line and everyone was very cooperative.
When we got outside, the kids wanted to act a little crazy. I expected that to happen and overlooked some things until I was ready to begin the lesson. All that I needed to do to regain their attention was to ask them to respect me as their teacher and behave as they would in school. Since they were so excited to be learning via a hands-on activity, they responded to my request.
The activity was
quickly underway and the kids proved to me that they were capable of learning in
a different setting and working well together.
All the students complied with my requests and helped set up all the
Next, the actual trash
sorting began. Many of the kids
were very eager to sort the trash and I noticed that the materials were not
always placed in the correct recycling bin.
This was all right with me. I
wanted to see what they knew about
sorting trash and what is capable of being recycled.
Overall, my goals for the unit were met. I was able to create awareness concerning an issue that is not always thought to be prevalent in the levels of fourth graders. However, I was reminded that young children are the most influential members of society and the most sensitive to the needs and well being of others. The kids in Mrs. X's class confirmed my thoughts about kids. They are truly the visionaries of the world and the people who are most likely to make a difference and work towards change. I could not have asked for anything more. Their involvement and concern for the world was quite impressive and gave me hope for the future.