Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

My Water, Your Water, Our Water
Unit of 3 lessons

Unit Overview:

Focus Question: What does it mean to be a good steward of the earth? 

Unit Purpose:

The Great Lakes Basin provides a wealth of material to develop the five themes of geography and instill the virtues of philanthropy and environmental stewardship. Learners read and explore how waterways became polluted. They test water using the scientific method. They explore the interrelationships and responsibilities of all stakeholders: individuals, businesses, industry, government and nonprofits as stewards of the Great Lakes Basin and other waterways.

Unit Objectives:

The learner will:
  • analyze content of the reading book, A River Ran Wild.

  • apply knowledge gained from the reading to the Great Lakes.

  • identify citizen responsibility for the Great Lakes Basin.

  • develop concept of community capital as applied to Great Lakes Basin.

  • identify reasons for maintaining water quality.

  • demonstrate use of vocabulary associated with water quality.

  • locate his/her nearest river, pond, lake, reservoir.

  • demonstrate knowledge of physical geography of the Great Lakes.

  • analyze the effects of settlement and development on the Great Lakes Basin.

  • identify major causes of pollution in the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

  • successfully demonstrate vocabulary of philanthropy and stewardship.

  • connect the concept of stewardship to the study of the ecosystem of the Great Lakes Basin.

  • assess the effects of industry and settlement on the Great Lakes.

  • prepare a class presentation on a Great Lake, its ecosystem and volunteer efforts to improve the basin.

  • conduct experiment using the scientific method and report findings in water quality.

  • design and participate in a service-learning activity.

  • practice effective reflection.

  • evaluate the service activity.

  • understand the role of the non-profit sector in helping preserve the waterways.

  • apply the concepts of philanthropy and stewardship to the saving of the Great Lakes Basin.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.

After studying and testing water quality at a nearby water source or from samples provided in class, learners will compose and write letters to government representatives and non-profit foundations or agencies supporting efforts to reduce pollution or to encourage support for water quality.

Unit Assessment:

  • Evaluation of Attachments in Lessons One, Two and Three and Guided Practice for comprehension of reading book

  • Evaluation of posters

  • Instructor observation

  • Class participation

  • Instructor designed assessment of content, quiz, test

  • Reflection activities

  • Scoring of rubric provided

  • Journal entries

  • Map

  • Evaluation of peer group presentations

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Lesson Two: Great Lakes at Stake, Attachment Two: What Can I Do?

Notes for Teaching:

Due to the technical nature of the content on water quality and the Great Lakes Basin, it is highly recommended that the instructor use the websites identified in Lesson One: These Lakes Are Great and Lesson Two: Great Lakes at Stake to become familiarized with the content to be developed with the learners. Internet sources for free and inexpensive materials are also identified.

Lesson Three: Responsible Stewardship—the Saving of the Great Lakes suggests either water testing from a river, lake, stream or pond or in-class testing from samples collected by the instructor. If a field trip is scheduled for water quality testing, additional time should be scheduled for transportation to and from the site.

Field trip experiment: Prior to taking learners on a field trip to the nearest lake, river, stream or pond, secure water quality tests, one to each peer group, and obtain school, district and parental permission. Obtain chaperones, transportation and provide protective gloves and goggles. This preparation should begin at least two weeks prior to the activity. Provide collection bags for each peer group to collect litter at the site.
Alternative to field experience: Conduct water quality tests on drinking fountain water samples and water that the instructor has obtained from the local pond, river, lake or stream. If your local elementary or primary unit does not have microscopes, contact the local high school or curriculum laboratory to borrow needed equipment.

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Lessons Developed By:

Christine Jensen
Grand Rapids Public Schools
Sibley Elementary School Building
947 Sibley, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

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