As many of us head back from Spring Break, we head back with renewed energy and excitement to see our students. I personally am excited to head back and launch my Earth Day unit of study in April. This month will be busy with SBAC testing starting and the end of the third quarter, but my students absolutely love the type of hands on learning and teaching that comes along with this unit.
To start this unit I begin with my Climate Change Performance Task. This performance task is aimed toward students in 5th and 6th grade, but could easily be adapted for older students as well. This activity is an expository writing activity that prepares students for SBAC and PARCC testing.
Students will read two paired non-fiction passages about climate change, and then watch a video that correlates. They will work to closely read and watch the sources and take notes.
Students then use their notes to answer three comprehension questions that require them to synthesize the information from all the sources in order to answer.
Then, they will write a full length expository essay as if they are an expert on the subject and have been asked to present to the community at a town hall meeting by the mayor. All scoring guides and sample answers are included in this product.
Check it out!
Following the performance task, I have students break up into small committees to perform research on specific topics applicable to Earth Day. These topics include recycling, composting, litter clean up, replanting, clean water, global warming, car pollution, and air pollution. Students will research these topics, take notes, write a research paper, and finally prepare an activity that will teach other students about these problems. If you would like a freebie to get your students started, click here!
After students have done their research and written their papers, we will then plan an Earth Day Festival in our classroom and invite the younger students to come and take part. Here is a quick video our Earth Day Festival last year!
Each Earth Day committee is responsible for coming up with a game or activity that takes about 10 minutes to teach about their concept for the younger groups. In the past we have had Earth Day promises on paper earths, composting sorts, attempts to clean dirty water with limited resources, recycling basketball, and seed planting. The kids have a wonderful time teaching, and the younger kids love to learn from their bigger buddies. (My students are usually exhausted and have some sort of comments about it being hard to teach kids...hmmmm) The younger students enjoy taking part in the festival so much that they have requested to do it each year, and now it has become a 6th grade tradition!
I hope you enjoy these quick ideas to incorporate Earth Day into your classroom this year! Please leave feedback on any other activities you like to do, or let me know how this goes in your classroom!