LITWIS, What Is It?

6, 7, 8

This lesson will focus on the history, reasons, and possible solutions of excessive sedimentation in the south branch of the Muskegon River. Writing and performing a short theatrical activity through a LITWIS activity, learners will develop an awareness and pledge commitment to involvement in conservation of our waterways.

Instructor Note: While specific to the Muskegon River, other water systems may be substituted with the same procedures followed.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree to Four Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • read the article Sediment Strangling River, Fish (Attachment One).
  • complete with a minimum of 75% accuracy Attachment One: Sediment Strangling River, Fish—A Guided Practice.
  • create a LITWIS activity that covers the requirements on the Evaluation Rubric for LITWIS Activity (Attachment Three). Divide into groups of three-four and perform it for the class.
  • perform at least one LITWIS that another group has created.
  • identify key words, concepts and elements of philanthropy from the performed LITWIS cards.
  • perform at least one demonstration of philanthropy through the LITWIS activity as related to the content.
  • identify individual rights and community responsibilities as relates to water.
  • continue "Healthy Water" portfolio from Lesson One: Healthy Water!?…
  • Attachment One: newspaper article and guided practice entitled Sediment Strangling River, Fish—A Guided Practice
  • Attachment Two: The Dilemma
  • Attachment Three: Teacher Instructions for the LITWIS Activity and Example Cards
  • Attachment Three-A: Evaluation Rubric for LITWIS Activity
  • 3 x 5 index cards
  • Markers

Alexander, Jeff. "Sediment Strangling River, Fish." A Special Series of the Muskegon Chronicle (The Muskegon River: Unnatural Wonder) 1999: 12-15. ISBN: 0966772474


  1. Anticipatory Set:Brainstorm with students what they learned about erosion and sediment from the lab "Speedy Water and Sediments." Write the following vocabulary words on the board and define or review definitions together: silt, sedimentation, flood, erosion, habitat and wildlife. You may wish to also make a teacher example of a LITWIS activity that covers an unrelated subject area and have the class do it for practice and to see the correct format. Make it "unique" so that it catches their attention….i.e. "The day Harry Potter came to school."

  2. Pass out copies of the newspaper article "Sediment Strangling River, Fish" and A Guided Practice from Attachment One. Complete the Guided Practice as the students read the article.

  3. Discuss the newspaper article and guided practice, paying attention to the vocabulary words.

  4. Form peer groups of no more than four learners per group.

  5. Give each group Attachment Two: The Dilemma which is a printed copy of the following scenario:

    The Smiths own a home on the Muskegon River and pump water out of the river to water their lawn and fill the above ground pool. They have 15 acres on which they grow lettuce, celery, tomatoes, beans and hay. They have three horses and five head of cattle. They use non-organic high-nitrogen fertilizers. Neighbors complain that the Smiths are contributing to water pollution, the growth of bacteria in the water, contamination of ground water and causing greater deposit of sediment in the river. They are filing a complaint with local and state governmental environmental commissions.The Smiths say it is their land and not anyone's concern.How is this a conflict between individual rights and community responsibility? What are the valid issues in this problem? What solutions could you propose?

  6. Have a spokesperson for each group report out their conclusions.

  7. Divide the class in two small groups, no more than five per group.

  8. Pass out Evaluation Rubric for LITWIS Activity (Attachment Three) and go over it telling the students that their LITWIS (Listen Intently To What I Say) must cover all of the elements on the rubric. They may use their articles as they create.

  9. Give students time to create their LITWIS, emphasizing that they need to keep the directions clear, dialogue simple, and actions interesting yet safe to everyone.

  10. Collect finished LITWIS cards and have the class perform each other's LITWIS.

  11. End by pointing out what was the best part of each LITWIS and how each one could be improved.


Students will be assessed as they perform the LITWIS using the rubric. Evaluate Attachment Two: The Dilemma. Evaluate the Guided Practice or quiz on content.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Define <i>stewardship</i> as a trust of common resources held by a community for citizens.
      2. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
      3. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and describe civil society organizations whose purpose is associated with issues relating to "human characteristics of place."