Critical Conversations about Conservation

Lesson 5: Critical Conversations: Reduce by Reusing


North Carolina Essential Standards

Social Studies 4.G.1.2 Explain the impact that human activity has on the availability of natural resources in North Carolina


Common Core State Standards


Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Prerequiste Knowledge

This is the fifth lesson in the conservation unit that begin with a study of ecosystems and animals  In the first lesson learners will understand how humans depend on their ecosystems for their wants and needs.  In the second lesson learners will learn about the interconnectedness of human activity and other organisms.  In the third lesson learners will understand the importance of water and in the fourth lesson students will learn how they can affect legislation being made about conservation. Using this prior learning students will discover that they can make conscious choices that affect the environment in more positive ways and encourage others to do the same.

Learners will know how to access the Office 365 class notebook, answer multiple choice questions, create PowerPoint presentations, operate flip video cameras and make dioramas.

Learners will know how to write a persuasive essay.


Students will be able to:

  • Explain the critical need for recycling, reducing, and reusing.
  • Create art to sell from clean trash.


Formative assessments:

  • The learners will respond to in the Office 365 class notebook to the reading of the book One Plastic Bag.
  • The learners will do an in depth character analyses of Isatou.
  • The learners will write a reflection about the artwork that they look at and created from clean trash in the Office 365 class notebook.

Summative assessments:

  • The learners will a create a project to encourage people to recycle.  Examples of possible projects are videos, PowerPoints, Public Service announcement, Posters, and dioramas.  Projects will be graded with a teacher made rubric.
  • The learners will write a persuasive essay on the need for refuse, recycling, reducing, repurposing,  and reusing. The essay should include student understanding of human impact on the natural resources in NC.


Both students and teacher will need access to internet.


  • One Plastic Bag By Miranda Paul


  • Teacher-created PowerPoint presentation on reducing, reusing, and recycling
  • South African Artifacts - pictures, items made from wood, aluminum cans, cable, flip flops, forest materials
  • Student laptops
  • Office 365 class notebook
  • Chart paper and markers

Prior Preparation

  • The teacher will have copies of the rubric for the summative project printed and ready to distribute.  
  • Artifacts will be ready to show.  
  • Gallery walk questions will be written on chart paper and posted around the room.


  1. Review what the students have learned so far in this unit (i.e., ecosystems, endangered animals, water scarcity, and government involvement in conservation).
  2. Display the teacher-created PowerPoint showing photographs of items recycled from trash.
  3. Discuss what students notice and wonder about these items.

Guided Practice

  1. Discuss how taking care of our planet is more than just taking care of the water.  Talk about the huge amounts of plastic that end up in our oceans.
  2. The teacher will participate in a read aloud/think aloud with the book One Plastic Bag.
  3. Students will work together to list character traits of Isatou.
  4. Students will participate in a gallery walk around the room to answer the following questions:
    • How are you like Isatou?
    • How are you not like Isatou?
    • Do you think people can change? Why or Why not?
    • Did Isatou make the world a better place? Why or Why not?
    • How can trash be reused?
    • What do you think biodegradable means?
  5. The learners will research for acceptable ways to use clean trash to make items that can be sold to raise money for The Water Project foundation.
  6. The students will also research local NC artists for ideas of how to reuse, trash to create art.
  7. The students will build the items.
  8. The students will make posters and commercials to advertise their sell during the May Spring Fling.
  9. The students will write letters to The Water Foundation explaining to them what we did and why.
  10. The students will create a project that persuades the general public to recycle on some level.
  11. Finally, the students will present their projects to the class for teacher and peer review.


  1. Students will reflect on the whole unit and develop TED Talks to share with other students, parents and teachers.
  2. The TED Talks will be 18 minutes long, will need to be memorized, and include a slide presentation.


  • Modifications will be administered as stated in individual student IEPs: extra time, graphic organizers for writing, modified assignments.
  • Other classroom accommodations that will be used are peer and teacher conferences, spelling charts, closed caption on videos, and multiple viewings of videos.