Lesson 1: Introduction to Environmental View Points
In this soft introduction to environmentalism and the different viewpoints, students will be asked to define what environmentalism is and then determine what two different viewpoints are based on comparing and contrasting two articles on environmentalism.
To start off, students should be asked to identify in a group (or individually) what they think the word environmentalism is. If you know your students have studied this topic before, have them simply list three things they know about environmentalism. After reviewing their list, inform the students you are going to use their prior knowledge and new knowledge developed today to develop a working, class-wide definition of environmentalism. To do this, the students will watch the YouTube video “What is ENVIRONMENTALISM...” While viewing, have the students take notes, allowing them to use whatever form of notes they would prefer, as this will be developed more in lesson two. After they have completed the film, have students list what they feel are the most important parts of the definition. Use these key words to create a class generated definition which is stored on an anchor chart and is copied into the students' notebooks.
In the second step, have students set up two column notes (or whatever is the common notetaking practice of your building/district). Explain to the students you want them to be able to find the main ideas of the article with the intention of answering the question: What does the author think is the definition of environmentalism? How does it compare to our definition?
In groups, students will read the Op-Ed by Ericka Anderson “I’m A Christian Conservative Environmentalist. No, That’s Not an Oxymoron.” If you feel students would need more support, feel free to do this initial reading whole class. While reading the students should be looking for the key points which include:
(a) faith-based world is overlooked source of environmentalism,
(b) use the Genesis story as the basis of environmentalism
(2) Growing Number of Christian Environmental Groups
(a) Young Evangelicals for Climate Action
(b) Creation Care Prayer Breakfast
Once this is done, review the notes with the class to see where they compare and where they are differing. After this is completed, give the students time to answer the guiding questions presented above: What does the author think is the definition of environmentalism? How does it compare to our definition?
In the third step, guide the students to repeat the process using Jazmine Murphy’s “Decolonizing Environmentalism.” Again, have the students read the articles in groups to determine the main ideas and supporting details using two column notes. Once the notes are completed, the students should examine both charts looking for similarities and differences in the writers' points of view before finally provide them time to answer the guiding questions.
Finally, students should examine both viewpoints and explain which writer they agree with citing evidence from the articles to prove their claim.
Lesson 2: Visual Notetaking: Coyote and the Pebbles
In this second lesson, students will use the notes they made yesterday to apply a newly learned process of sketch noting in order to improve upon their understanding of a text. By the end of the lesson, students will understand that they can incorporate sketch noting into the two forms of note taking they are used to for literacy: (a) Cornell Notes for informational texts and (b) the Four Square for literary texts.
To start off, direct students to their notes from yesterday on the two articles. What did they find easy and difficult about the note taking process? Explain to students that there are multiple ways to approach note taking and that they are going to watch a video that describes a new process: sketch noting. Before class, the teacher should have Doug Neill’s “What is sketchnoting?” ready to go. While watching the video, have the students identify three takeaways on a post it notes.
After watching, have the students in groups share their post it notes to see what the commonalities are. After a brief small group discussion, give the students the opportunity to share as a class what sketchnoting is. The teacher and student can both add the definition to their anchor chart and notebook where they already have stored the definition for environmentalism.
Then, students will be asked to watch a second video, Doug Neill’s “Improving Notetaking with Sketchnoting,” to see how they can use the process with the work they have already done. Students will then choose one of the two articles: Jazmine Murphy’s “Decolonizing Environmentalism” or Ericka Anderson “I’m A Christian Conservative Environmentalist. No, That’s Not an Oxymoron.” After choosing the article, they will review their notes on said choice and add some visuals to the notes in order to enhance their understanding of the piece.
In my class, students use different models for different types of texts. While we use the two column notes for informational reading, we use a four square for literary texts. Given this unit involves both types of texts, students will need to practice this with a literary text. Using Dayton Edmond’s “Coyote and the Pebbles,” students will identify: (a) characters, (b) setting, (c) plot, and (d) theme. The teacher should model the process showing the traditional word-based notetaking while also going back and adding in the visuals afterwards.
As a wrap up, students should reflect on their feelings about the sketchnoting process. It may be worth having students watch Doug Neill’s “The 50/50 Rule of Visual Note-Taking.”
Consider, at this point, having the students try to add additional details to their work both in the classroom and outside in nature. The teacher should assign them an additional text which would be enhanced by nature in the world around you. If I were to use the story, Raven the Trickster (pages 35-48), I would have the students practice their visual notetaking at the river nearby. After completing this activity, students should reflect on whether or not they felt being out in nature increased their understanding of the work or made it more difficult.
Lesson 3: Developing Origin Stories
In this lesson, students will take the work they did for the visual sketchnotes for the story, “Coyote and the Pebbles,” and identify the elements of origin stories. In order to do this, students will need to take informational notes on Native American mythology as well as the Trickster archetype.
The teacher should review the sketchnoting process with the overview of the Britannica article on “Native American Literature.” After reviewing the process, students should work in groups to identify: (1) Repetition (2) Time (3) Cultural Regions. After completing their notes, students should be able to choose one of the regional sections and take notes on just that section which they will share with the class. They can choose from: (1) Arctic, (2) Northwest Coast, (3) California, (4) Southwest, (5) Northeast, and (6) Plains.
When reviewing the notes, guide the students to recognize the repetition of the Trickster character across the regions. Students will then read Meet the Trickster (pages 4-5) from Matt Dembicki’s text Trickster. On post–it notes, allow the students to take one to two notes in a form of their choice about the Trickster archetype. Once completed, students should share their notes to create a class definition. Rather than adding the definition to the definition sheet, have the students create a visual representation of the trickster using visuals and words to describe what a trickster is. To do this, they should consider doing it in the style of sketchnotes with a mix of words and pictures. Also, the students should include evidence of who was the trickster in Coyote and the Pebbles and why they were the trickster.
On the second day, students would have the opportunity to develop their own version of the story Coyote and the Pebbles. Offer them the options of making the story more modern by changing the time and the place, by changing the characters to another animal, or by changing the events in the story that lead to a different outcome. Students should use a graphic organizer like the four-square they’ve already created reusing some elements, but changing others. If time permits, they can briefly write out a draft of the story.
On a third day, offer the students to use the opportunity to practice their writing in a natural setting based on what is available in the general surrounding of your school. I would take the students to each location. For example, my school has access to a grassy area, a woody area, and a river. I would have them complete visual notes in each of those locations creating details about the world around them. Once completed, they would be asked to incorporate some of those details into their outline or writing.
Upon completion of the outline or the draft, students should reflect on how their version of the story is an example of an origin story using their notes.
The second day lesson, rewriting the origin stories, should be done 2 to 3 more times during the course of the unit so that students have several different drafts to work with when they get to the final assessment. Consider the locations available to you, and not available to you when choosing different stories to have students rewrite.
Lesson 4: Understanding the Stars: Coyote and the Pebble
As a precursor, this lesson also uses the story The Coyote and the Pebble. It is not necessary to do this story, but I feel the stars are a concept my students would understand fairly well. Teachers could choose to use a different story with the suggested stories available above with the possible natural teaching points available at the end of the summaries.
In this lesson, the expected student outcome has the students focus on the story Moshup’s Bridge from Trickster to consider the author’s purpose in telling this story. Later, students will be asked to do similar work when reading an article on the formation of stars from NASA and watching a video from National Geographic to determine the difference between the ways to understand science.
To begin, the students should refer back to their sketchnotes for the story Coyote and the Pebble. Review the ending of the story and have the students consider the author’s purpose for writing this story. If the students haven’t already, have them create an anchor chart with the list of the five categories of author’s purpose: persuade, inform, entertain, and explain. After creating the chart, the students should consider what reason the author had for telling this story and should back it up with evidence. This could be done as a journal entry or as an oral response.
After determining the purpose, the students should then work in notes to specifically explain what the author is trying to do. Some may say the point of the story is to entertain, which wouldn’t be wrong. With multiple groups, it would be good for there to be some reasonable variety as I really want my students to understand that it's not about getting the right answer, but rather explaining your thinking. Those who didn’t choose to inform should be asked to consider that option later in the comparison section.
With this process in mind, students will be directed to read the first part of the article from NASA on star formation. While reading, students should take notes with the guiding question: how are stars created? The article is a little difficult so it may be better to start with the video based on your understanding of your students’ thinking and learning processes. Again, this would be an opportunity for students to use sketchnotes.
After reading the article, the students would continue to build their understanding by taking notes on the National Geographic video on stars. The students should be using the same guiding question as above.
Afterwards, students should consider what the author’s purpose is in the three different texts. In what ways did the creators use similar methods? What methods did they use that were different? In all three genres, scientific articles, video, and graphic novel, there is a mix of words and visuals in order to get across the author’s message. Students should specifically examine how each of those were used in all three texts.
Lesson 5: Using Maps to Build Context: Moshup’s Bridge
In this lesson, there are two key student outcomes. The first is students are to develop an understanding of setting through location and pictures to see the impact that has on their level of understanding of a text. The second student outcome has students using images and written text to understand an author’s purpose.
To begin with, the students should have read the story Moshup’s Bridge prior to the start of class and come into class with their four-square sketchnotes on character, setting, plot, and theme. The teacher should focus on setting during this part of the lesson. Students should be provided with an individual copy of the map of Martha’s Vineyard and several colored pencils. Students should name the details they identify in the prior reading. Using the digital maps available from the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, have the students examine the different maps. For the general island map, have the students identify Aquinnah, the location of the story and it will give them a general idea where to locate it on a map. Students should color in Aquinnah with a yellow-colored pencil. Students should be looking at the southwest corner of the island when considering the story. Using the beach map, have the students use a purple-colored pencil have them draw the location of Moshup’s Beach. Next, have the students identify Moshup’s Trail using a red color pencil. This trail should start around the beach and head south until it starts to curve. Have the students consider the connection between the stories and the modern names of the beach and the trail. Using the interactive map, have students identify Noman’s Island (created by Moshup when he throws the crab) as well as have them identify the location of the Elizabeth Islands. The students should color this green and label it. Since the map doesn’t label the islands as the Elizabeth Islands, give the students the name of the individual islands (Nonamesset, Naushon, Gosnold, Nashawena, and Cuttyhunk). The students should color them green and label them Elizabeth Islands.
Upon completing the map, the students should do a brief search for images of Moshup’s Beach and gather them in a Google document. Once all the pictures are complied, have the students examine the picture for finer details. What do you see in the pictures? Have them list their notes below the pictures. At this point, have students consider the impact this additional knowledge has on their understanding of the story in a brief journal response.
In a final task, students should look over the map and consider science. Why did the author include the story of Moshup creating Noman’s Island? Why might a partially built bridge exist between the different islands based on the world splitting apart? Students should do this work in small groups.
Lesson 6: Oral Storytelling: Bear Who Stole the Chinook
As previously stated, I work in a K-8 school so I have the opportunity to have my older students work with younger students. This lesson could also be done virtually, I suppose, but I really want my students to engage in direct storytelling where possible as this will also build into their final projects.
In this lesson, students will develop an understanding of the role oral storytelling plays in learning and comprehension.
Prior to class, students should have read the story Bear Who Stole the Chinook and completed sketchnotes on the story. At this point, the teacher should review the notes with the students to confirm they all have a general understanding of the text. At this point, the teacher should have the students examine their reading habits: do they prefer to read something aloud? Do they prefer to hear it on audio? Do they prefer reading it online or in print? Where do they most like to read? It is suggested that this is done initially as a class discussion before asking students to journal about a time that someone read them a story.
After the students share their responses, students will then be provided the opportunity to listen to the author, Jack Gladstone, recite the story in a more lyrical form through the video on YouTube. While students are listening, ask them to consider how they feel during this experience with some sketchnotes. Once it is completed, have the students consider the role this plays in history.
Once the students have heard the performance, explain to the students how important hearing a story is for some students. The teacher should inform the students at the start of the unit that they will be reading to younger students as part of their learning experience. Prior to this lesson, the teacher should arrange for students to work with a grade of younger students (preferably students old enough to understand the stories, but young enough to appreciate older students reading to them). With the students, set rules for reading to younger students. Allow the students the opportunity to choose the story they would like to read to the younger students. Also, the teacher should pair the students up to practice reading the story to improve clarity and to alleviate nerves.
On the second day of this lesson, students would go to the other classroom and have the opportunity to read their story to 2-3 different groups of students. Intergrade level planning could be done with the other teacher to address standards being worked on in the language arts classroom. Also, if the weather permits, consider having the students read to the students in an outdoor setting.
Afterwards, have the students who were being read to write a brief response about how they felt about the experience. Share the responses with the students and talk about things that went well and need work based on that day’s experience. This anchor chart should be reused during the final lesson where students write and share their stories.
Lesson 7: Considering Setting: Espun and Grandfather
In this lesson, students are asked to think about the impact their knowledge of a location has on a story. Students will attend a field trip to a local scenic overlook where they will do some journaling about the location and reread the text.
As pre-work for this assignment, students will need to be able to list all the different locations in the story with a brief description of them (written or visual). This list will be used later when the students are walking to the East Rock Park summit.
I think it is important that students be able to recognize their access to nature around the city. For this lesson, students will go to East Rock Park where they will hike to a summit. On the walk, students will stop and take notes about different locations they see and identify places they think would be similar to different locations in the story. They should be adding to their notes. They can even create a second column to distinguish between their notes specifically from the story and from their walk. Also, since I believe that keeping phones away will be a struggle, students will be encouraged to take pictures of locations that they think match up in the story. This will tie back to the pictures they used for Moshup’s Bridge.
Once at the top, students will journal about their experience in nature. What stood out to them? How do they feel? After a five-to-ten-minute journaling session, students will be asked to share their journals. The teacher will then direct them to the story and ask them to think about how all the things they have seen today impact their understanding of the text. After completing the text, students will write a second journal entry in which they consider the impact of their new knowledge on their understanding of the text.
Upon returning, it is important to have students reflect on the three different ways they have interpreted learning in this unit: without any context, with context from research (Moshup’s Bridge), and with context from experience (Espun and Grandfather).
Lesson 8: Writing Origin Stories
The ultimate goal of this unit is for students to create their own original origin stories that they would write for children in the younger grades. This would allow them the opportunity to take what they learned and produce a creative work, while also building towards the opportunity of sharing their work with a specific, authentic audience. One of the strengths of my students is their desire to help others. This has historically remained a constant. Many of my students are older siblings with responsibilities at home that they take seriously. By activating this attribute, I’m hope to increase student success.
Given the work with the trickster character, students will develop their own trickster creature by considering what creatures live in nature in their world. In lesson two and seven, students are asked to learn in spaces outside the classroom. In these lessons, opportunities to take notes about nature may be afforded to the students or a teacher may spend time in this final lesson allowing students to experience different environmental settings. Students will be encouraged to use these notes in their writing.
For their story, students should develop a story with a beginning, middle, and end that has their heroic lead encountering a trickster character that will teach the audience something about nature or something about life. In their writing, students should keep in mind their audience, school aged children, and make sure that both language and content are appropriate. Students will be encouraged to use their drafts from lesson three in order to gather ideas for their origin story. For struggling students, the opportunity to expand the drafts into a final, polished product will also be available.
For some of my more artistic students, the opportunity to create a graphic novel version of their story would provide them with buy-in they might not have under other circumstances. Considering this will be presented to younger students, the graphics would have to be appropriate for the audience.
Once the stories are completed, students will read their stories to younger students after a brief discussion regarding their reflections from the end of lesson number six where the students read to their younger peers.