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Graduated Difficulty
Lesson Plan
Social Studies
6
This is a single-class lesson to be used after introducing the concept of
environmental issues.
50 Minutes (1 class period)
Kristin Evans

Instructional Unit Content


Standard(s)/Element(s)
Content Area Standard
SS6G2 The student will discuss environmental issues in Latin America.
a. Explain the major environmental concerns of Latin America regarding the issues of
air pollution in Mexico City, Mexico, the destruction of the rain forest in Brazil, and
oil-related pollution in Venezuela.
TAG Standard
Higher Order and Critical Thinking Skills
8. The student separates ones own point of view from that of others.
10. The student distinguishes between assumptions, inferences, and conclusions.
11. The student draws conclusions based upon relevant information while
discarding irrelevant information.
Advanced Communication Skills
1. The student uses written, spoken, and technological media to convey new learning or
challenge existing ideas.
2. The student produces written and/or oral work that is complex, purposeful, and
organized, includes relevant supporting examples and manipulation of language.
Advanced Research Skills
5. The student gathers, organizes, analyzes, and synthesizes data from multiple sources
to support or disprove a hypothesis.
Summary/Overview
The focus of this lesson is to give students the opportunity to evaluate multiple sources,
varying in complexity and type, to determine the causes of air pollution in Mexico City and
to evaluate possible solutions to the problem.

Enduring Understanding(s)
The combination of geography and overpopulation has led to increased air pollution in
Mexico City, and currently poses a major health concern to its citizens.
Essential Question(s)
Is pollution inevitable in large cities?

Evidence of Learning
At the end of this lesson, the student will KNOW
a. Independence leaders were able to rally support against the harsh policies of Spanish
colonial rule by championing equal rights for all groups.
b.
At the end of this lesson, the student will UNDERSTAND
a. The inequality and racism that was built into Spanish colonial society lead to
widespread support amongst the peasant population for independence movements in
the 19th and 20th centuries.
b.
At the end of this lesson, the student will DO
a. Analyze primary and secondary source documents and interpret data to determine the
causes and possible solutions to the air pollution problem in Mexico City.
Suggested Vocabulary
Emissions
Fossil fuels

Procedure(s)
Phase 1: Hook
1.

Show first slide of the PowerPoint presentationstudents will respond to a quote from Moses
Maimonides that compares the air of cities to the air of deserts. The author wrote during the
12th century, and so students will be interpreting not only the comparisons he makes between the
air, but also the historical context in which he is writing. The last question poses: How has
pollution in the cities changed from the 12th century to today?

Phase 2: Acquiring Content


2.
3.

Pose the Essential Question. Is pollution inevitable in large cities?

Begin discussion of environmental issues by recalling prior information students have


learned about environmental problems (air pollution in UK, acid rain in Germany,
pollution of the Great Lakes in Canada, etc)
4. Use the Powerpoint presentation to introduce students to the air pollution problem in
Mexico City.
Phase 3: DECIDE and Practice and DECIDE
5.

Explain to students that they will be investigating the causes and possible solutions to the air
pollution problem in Mexico City. Explain to students that there are a variety of different sources
and opinions on why the problem persists, and that students in Social Studies must consider and
weigh many different sources in order to understand a given issue. Therefore, students will be
given a variety of sources of various difficulty to interpret and use to form an opinion on the
question do you believe that the problem of air pollution in Mexico City can be

solved? To aid students in choosing which difficulty level they should begin with,
students will start with the DECIDE handout.
6. Distribute the DECIDE handout and the document sets. Provide time for students to
examine the four sets and decide which is the most appropriate challenge to complete.
7. Students will complete the problem set of their choice and check their work when
completed, through peer-to-peer discussion (they will find another student in the class
who has completed the same document and review answers) or with teacher-student
discussion. Remediation: Teacher should remain active during the part of the lesson to
ensure that students are interpreting the documents appropriately. Particularly for
students who skip to harder documents, teacher must ensure they understand the basic
facts from previous sources. Students who quickly and accurately complete their selected
document should try the next level. The document at Level D gives students some
insight into possible solution the Mexican government has instituted. Students work
through the corresponding questions, and then summarize their learning by creating a
flyer for the program. They can work with other Level D students, but each student must
turn in their own completed flyer. Differentiation: If students have personal technology
and would rather create a Prezi, Powtoon, or some other presentation that accurately
summarizes the Day without a Car program instituted by the Mexican government,
they will be given the opportunity.
3

When all students have had an opportunity to complete and check at least two
documents, lead the students in a discussion to identify the criteria they used to make
their choice, determine if the first choice was the best choice, and determine the
knowledge/skills needed to move to the next level on the DECIDE handout.
9. Each student will evaluate the original question from the beginning of classdo you
believe that the problem of air pollution in Mexico City can be solved? Students will
also establish a goal on what additional information they would want or require to further
answer the question.
8.

Summarizing Activity

Sum It Up!: Students will conclude the lesson by completing the Sum It Up
handout, which asks them to summarize the causes of Mexico Citys air pollution, the
health consequences to the public, and possible solutions to fix it. Extension: If
students are finished early or show additional interest in the subject, they can
further their learning by writing or creating a proposal to the mayor of Mexico City
on how to lessen/reduce air pollution within the city. They can use any type of
media they like (PowerPoint, Prezi, etc) or write on a separate sheet of paper.
Students can work in groups if they choose.

Resource(s)
Anchor Text(s):
Moses Maimonides quote

Technology:
Power point: Air Pollution in Mexico City
Handouts:
Handout 1:
Handout 2:
Handout 3:
Handout 4:
Handout 5:
Handout 6:

DECIDE
Document A and related questions
Document B and related questions
Document C and related questions
Document D and related questions
Sum It Up!