Impervious Surfaces
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give an example why conflict may exist between individual freedom and the community.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Build a case for giving, explaining why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.

The purpose of this lesson is to engage the learners in the topic of environmental stewardship as it relates to the responsible use of land masses.

PrintTwo 55 Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define stewardship.
  • write a personal mission statement about environmental stewardship.
  • reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of pavement.
  • define the term impervious surfaces.
  • Lyrics and music (and/or picture book) for "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie 
  • Lyrics and music for "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell
  • Counting Crows. "Big Yellow Taxi" YouTube music video
  • Environmental Sustainability at the University of Michigan
  • Guthrie, Woody. Song and Lyrics for This Land is Your Land 
  • Guthrie, Woody and Kathy Jakobsen. This Land Is Your Land.  Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998.  ISBN: 0-316-39215-4.
  • Mitchell, Joni. Song and Lyrics for A Big Yellow Taxi
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Play the song “This Land Is Your Land.”Ask learners to think and write, and then pair up and share about the following questions:“Regarding this natural resource called land; whose land is it anyway?” and “Do I have any obligations/responsibility to the land?”Play the song again.

  2. Conduct a whole-class discussion from the think-write-pair-share activity. Discuss the term environmental stewardship and have the learners share what they know or think they know about the meaning of these words.

  3. Write the following definitions of stewardship and environmental stewardship on the board: Stewardship is "the management of something; especially, the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." Environmental stewardship is "the careful and responsible management of the earth's natural resources." Ask the students who has been "entrusted with the care of the earth's natural resources." Is it the government's responsibility, the individual's, or both? Discuss examples of actions the learners and their families can take as environmental stewards (recycle, conserve energy, pick up trash, plant trees, etc.).

  4. Explain to the students that they are going to write a personal mission statement about environmental stewardship. Define a mission statement as a concise statement of personal belief and purpose that defines goals or and sets direction. It doesn't involve specific, measurable actions or how the goals will be achieved. Challenge the students to write a personal mission statement in ten words or less that expresses their personal beliefs about their responsibility to the environment.

  5. Have students write drafts and meet with others for peer review and editing until they have concise statements, using correct spelling, acceptable grammar mechanics, and legibility.

  6. When they are ready to share, post the mission statements around the room (with or without names on them). Have students walk around the room reading one another's statements. They may wish to bring a notepad to take notes on wording or comments that inspire them.

  7. Day Two

  8. Ask the students to think about the meaning of paradise. Tell the learners that one definition of paradise is a place where somebody finds comfort and beauty. Share with the class a place that you consider to be paradise. Perhaps it is a place you visited, a vacation destination, or even your backyard. Encourage the learners to join you in identifying these types of places. Then ask the question, “What would happen to your paradise if it were paved, blacktopped or cemented?"

  9. Play the song “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

  10. Discuss as a whole class the implications of paving paradise. Ask students to picture the amount of pavement they see around their homes and school and the places they travel. Ask the students to reflect over the next 24 hours on the question, "Is there more pavement than green space in our community?"

  11. Have the students scan theewspaper to find commercial property for rent or for sale in the area. Then discuss the tension between commercial development for a strong economy vs. “paradise”?

  12. Place a "T chart" on the display board labeled Pavement. Tell the students that pavement isn't all bad. Write the words Pros and Cons over the two columns of the T chart. Give each student two self-sticking notes. Direct the learners to list on separate self-sticking notes one advantage and one disadvantage of pavement, blacktop, or cement. Ask them post these in the appropriate columns on the display board.

  13. Read the self-sticking notes aloud to the class to review the pros and cons of pavement.

  14. Share with the learners that pavement (whether it is considered a plus or a minus) renders the ground impervious. Challenge the learners to define the term impervious surface as it is used here.(Definition: impervious descibes something that does not allow entrance or passage; Impervious ground surface does not allow water to flow through or plants to grow or animals to pass through; the ground beneath it is useless for anything other than, in this case, holding up the pavement.)

  15. Have each learner write one question about impervious surfaces and their impact on the environment. The learners should sign their names and post the questions on the board. Tell the learners that by the end of this unit they will have answers to these questions and a better idea of how the environment is impacted by impervious surfaces.


The learners will be assessed based on their participation in the class discussion and required activities as well as their personal mission statement reflecting what it means to be an environmental steward.