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Teacher Guide

Environmental Concerns in the Community

By Mary Howland, Beth Fensterwald, Steven Caringella
Meet the Authors

"How do we become aware of local environmental concerns and what can we do to make a difference?"

and Standards



 Student Guide

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Understandings and Standards

Core Understandings
  • Reading and writing offer the power to inform and to enlighten others.
  • Environmental problems can be identified through scientific investigation and analysis.
  • Citizens have the ability to impact their environment for better or worse.
  • Citizens should take responsibility for addressing problems in their communities.
Learning Objectives
  • Students will write a poem using rivers as a theme.
  • Students will write a newspaper article about an issue related to water resources.
  • Students will write a persuasive essay urging action on some environmental issue.
  • Students will conduct scientific investigation and data gathering through water quality monitoring in a local creek using probe technology.
  • Students will locate the entire watershed system they live within through maps and satellite images.
California Content Standards
English and Language Arts
Grade Four
ELA.4.1.0. Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development
Vocabulary and Concept Development
ELA.4.1.2. Apply knowledge of word origins, derivations, synonyms, antonyms, and idioms to determine the meaning of words and phrases.
ELA.4.2.0. Reading Comprehension
Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
ELA.4.2.2. Use appropriate strategies when reading for different purposes (e.g., full comprehension, location of information, personal enjoyment).
Listening and Speaking
ELA.4.1.0. Listening and Speaking Strategies
ELA.4.1.1. Ask thoughtful questions and respond to relevant questions with appropriate elaboration in oral settings.
Grade Five
ELA.5.1.0. Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development
Vocabulary and Concept Development
ELA.5.1.5. Understand and explain the figurative and metaphorical use of words in context.
ELA.5.2.0. Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials)
Structural Features of Informational Materials
ELA.5.2.1. Understand how text features (e.g., format, graphics, sequence, diagrams, illustrations, charts, maps) make information accessible and usable.
Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
ELA.5.2.3. Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.
ELA.5.2.4. Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge.
Expository Critique
ELA.5.2.5. Distinguish facts, supported inferences, and opinions in text.
ELA.5.1.0. Writing Strategies
Organization and Focus
ELA.5.1.2. Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions:
a. Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or chronological order.
b. Provide details and transitional expressions that link one paragraph to another in a clear line of thought.
c. Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas and details.
Research and Technology
ELA.5.1.3. Use organizational features of printed text (e.g., citations, end notes, bibliographic references) to locate relevant information.
ELA.5.1.4. Create simple documents by using electronic media and employing organizational features (e.g., passwords, entry and pull-down menus, word searches, the thesaurus, spell checks).
ELA.5.1.5. Use a thesaurus to identify alternative word choices and meanings.
Evaluation and Revision
ELA.5.1.6. Edit and revise manuscripts to improve the meaning and focus of writing by adding, deleting, consolidating, clarifying, and rearranging words and sentences.
ELA.5.2.0. Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
ELA.5.2.4. Write persuasive letters or compositions:
a. State a clear position in support of a proposal.
b. Support a position with relevant evidence.
c. Follow a simple organizational pattern.
d. Address reader concerns.
Listening and Speaking
ELA.5.1.0. Listening and Speaking Strategies
ELA.5.1.4. Select a focus, organizational structure, and point of view for an oral presentation.
ELA.5.1.5. Clarify and support spoken ideas with evidence and examples.
ELA.5.1.7. Identify, analyze, and critique persuasive techniques (e.g., promises, dares, flattery, glittering generalities); identify logical fallacies used in oral presentations and media messages.
ELA.5.1.8. Analyze media as sources for information, entertainment, persuasion, interpretation of events, and transmission of culture.
ELA.5.2.0. Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
ELA.5.2.2. Deliver informative presentations about an important idea, issue, or event by the following means:
a. Frame questions to direct the investigation.
b. Establish a controlling idea or topic.
c. Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations.
Grade Eight
ELA.8.1.0. Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development
ELA.8.1.3. Use word meanings within the appropriate context and show ability to verify those meanings by definition, restatement, example, comparison, or contrast.
ELA.8.2.0. Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials)
ELA.8.2.6. Use information from a variety of consumer, workplace, and public documents to explain a situation or decision and to solve a problem.
ELA.8.1.0. Writing Strategies
ELA.8.1.1. Create compositions that establish a controlling impression, have a coherent thesis, and end with a clear and well-supported conclusion.
ELA.8.1.2. Establish coherence within and among paragraphs through effective transitions, parallel structures, and similar writing techniques.
ELA.8.1.3. Support theses or conclusions with analogies, paraphrases, quotations, opinions from authorities, comparisons, and similar devices.
ELA.8.1.4. Plan and conduct multiple-step information searches by using computer networks and modems.
ELA.8.1.5. Achieve an effective balance between researched information and original ideas.
ELA.8.1.6. Revise writing for word choice; appropriate organization; consistent point of view; and transitions between paragraphs, passages, and ideas.
ELA.8.2.0. Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
ELA.8.2.3. Write research reports:
a. Define a thesis.
b. Record important ideas, concepts, and direct quotations from significant information sources and paraphrase and summarize all perspectives on the topic, as appropriate.
c. Use a variety of primary and secondary sources and distinguish the nature and value of each.
d. Organize and display information on charts, maps, and graphs.
ELA.8.2.5. Write documents related to career development, including simple business letters and job applications:
a. Present information purposefully and succinctly and meet the needs of the intended audience.
b. Follow the conventional format for the type of document (e.g., letter of inquiry, memorandum).
Written and Oral English Language Conventions
ELA.8.1.0. Written and Oral English Language Conventions
ELA.8.1.4. Edit written manuscripts to ensure that correct grammar is used.
ELA.8.1.5. Use correct punctuation and capitalization.
ELA.8.1.6. Use correct spelling conventions.
Grade Four
Life Sciences
SCI.4.2. All organisms need energy and matter to live and grow.
SCI.4.2.b. Students know producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers) are related in food chains and food webs and may compete with each other for resources in an ecosystem.
SCI.4.2.c. Students know decomposers, including many fungi, insects, and microorganisms, recycle matter from dead plants and animals.
SCI.4.3. Living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for survival.
SCI.4.3.a. Students know ecosystems can be characterized by their living and nonliving components.
SCI.4.3.b. Students know that in any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Earth Sciences
SCI.4.5. Waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape Earth's land surface.
SCI.4.5.a. Students know some changes in the earth are due to slow processes, such as erosion, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.
SCI.4.5.c. Students know moving water erodes landforms, reshaping the land by taking it away from some places and depositing it as pebbles, sand, silt, and mud in other places (weathering, transport, and deposition)
Investigation and Experimentation
SCI.4.6. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations.
SCI.4.6.a. Differentiate observation from inference (interpretation) and know scientists' explanations come partly from what they observe and partly from how they interpret their observations.
SCI.4.6.c. Formulate and justify predictions based on cause-and-effect relationships.
SCI.4.6.d. Conduct multiple trials to test a prediction and draw conclusions about the relationships between predictions and results.
SCI.4.6.e. Construct and interpret graphs from measurements.
SCI.4.6.f. Follow a set of written instructions for a scientific investigation.
Grade Five
Earth Sciences
SCI.5.3. Water on Earth moves between the oceans and land through the processes of evaporation and condensation.
SCI.5.3.a. Students know most of Earth's water is present as salt water in the oceans, which cover most of Earth's surface.
SCI.5.3.d. Students know that the amount of fresh water located in rivers, lakes, under-ground sources, and glaciers is limited and that its availability can be extended by recycling and decreasing the use of water.
SCI.5.3.e. Students know the origin of the water used by their local communities.