Let's Make a Plan

3, 4, 5

The students will investigate what is already being done in their school to reduce pollution. They will create and carry out a service learning plan to enhance this effort.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree or More One-Hour Class Period

The learner will:

  • create interview questions and interview people in his/her school.
  • brainstorm ways in which pollution control can be enhanced in his/her school/home/community.
  • create and carry out a plan to reduce pollution and increase awareness of the issue.
  • work cooperatively, listen respectfully, share and come to consensus on a project.
  • Student copies of Attachment One: Interview Questions
  • Three charts or overhead transparencies with the following labels: What is being done? What could be done? How will we raise awareness?
  • A “talking stick,” which is simply a twig that is given a special purpose (see Attachment Two: The Talking Circle )
Home Connection 

The students write a letter to their family about the agreed-upon project.


​Environmental Career Organization (ECO) https://www.eco.org/, 1 October, 2003

Erlbach, Arlene. The Kid's Volunteering Book. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1998. ISBN: 0822598205

The Earthworks Group. 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Recycle. Bathroom Readers Press, 1994. ISBN: 1879682001

The Earthworks Group. 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth . Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1990. ISBN: 0836223012


  1. Anticipatory Set:Have the students who brought “trash” from home attach it to the Slobosaurus outline and say how the material could have been reduced, reused or recycled.


    Teacher Note: Prepare for the interview sessions for Day One in advance. Contact five or six persons from the school building and arrange places for them to meet with a group of students. (Conducting five or six interviews in the classroom will be too noisy.) Possible interviewees include the principal, the custodian, the media specialist, other teachers, a parent volunteer, the president of the student council or other student leaders. Share with them the questions the students will be asking (see Attachment One: Interview Questions ).


    Day One

  2. Explain to the students that they will be interviewing people in their school to determine what is already being done to reduce pollution and what more can be done.

  3. Distribute Attachment One: Interview Questions. Go over the questions with the class and ask if there are any additional questions that the students think should be added. Divide the class into diverse groups to equal the number of interviewees.

  4. Allow time for the groups to meet and decide how they will conduct the interview. Suggest that one person be the recorder and that others take turns asking the questions. Tell the groups to decide who will begin the interview with introductions and who will end it by thanking the person for their ideas and time.

  5. The groups go to the prearranged locations and conduct the interviews. When they are finished, they return to the classroom.

  6. Day Two

  7. Explain to the students that today they will be following a Native American custom called a talking circle. They will be talking about what they have learned from their experiments, their homework interaction with family, class discussions and the interviews. From the talking circle, the class will create three lists: what is already being done to reduce pollution, what more can be done, how can they raise awareness for the need to be stewards of the environment.

  8. Distribute Attachment Two: The Talking Circle. Read it together and be sure the students understand the concept. Form a circle—sitting in chairs or on the floor—and begin the discussion. For this exercise, the teacher's role is to record the ideas on the appropriate charts. The teacher should allow this to be a student discussion as much as possible, adding guidance only when necessary.

  9. At the end of the discussion, the students select at least one idea from each of two charts: “What could be done?” and “How will we raise awareness?” These are the two ideas that they will implement in their school or community.

  10. Teacher Note: If necessary the teacher may need to guide the discussion toward practical actions the students can take such as:

    beginning a student-led, school-wide “Kid's Care Club”creating posters to inform the school/community about the needswriting essays for the school/district newspaperpresenting a stop-pollution program to other classes or in a school-wide assemblywriting to local and state leaders or newspapersbeautifying an area in the school or communitycollecting used books to contribute to a shelterpublishing a handbook for their peers containing pollution prevention ideas

  11. The project(s) can be simple or extensive, lasting only a few days or becoming a semester or year-long focus. The most important part is that the project is student initiated. See Bibliographical References for resources about additional student projects if needed.

  12. Day Three

  13. Hold another discussion using the talking circle. This time, the students discuss how the two selected projects can be accomplished. The plan should include specific roles for the students, a budget and plan to raise money if needed, a timeline and a strategy to determine the effects of the project. The teacher's role is to record the plan.

  14. Have the students write a letter to their families about the agreed-upon plan. (Teach the elements of a friendly letter if not already taught.) The letter should contain at least three paragraphs: 1) what they are planning to do, 2) how their projects will enhance the common good, and 3) how their families can support or help them carry out the plan. The letter writing should be edited and revised through the writing process, and a final copy should go home to families.


A teacher-created quiz will check student understanding of the concepts of reusing, reducing and recycling. The quiz may ask for definitions and examples. Use the following rubric to assess the student letter describing the plan for doing something about pollution and raising awareness about the need to be stewards to the environment.

Letter Rubric

4 points The letter is written in correct letter format with date, salutation, body, closing and signature. It contains at least three paragraphs: clearly detailing the project plans, citing examples of how this project enhances the common good and suggesting at least one concrete way families can help or support the project.

3 points The letter is written in correct letter format containing the five parts of a “friendly” letter. It contains at least three paragraphs that mention the common good, project plans and need for support. It attempts to connect the project with the common good.

2 points The letter contains at least four elements of a friendly letter. It contains at least three paragraphs that mention the common good, project plans and need for support, but the ideas are not complete.

1 point The letter contains some elements of a “friendly” letter. It includes some content about two of the three paragraph ideas. The connection between the project and the common good is unclear.

0 points The letter is not written in the correct format. The project, common good and support are not communicated clearly.

Cross Curriculum 

Students conduct interviews to gain input on a community issue. Based on data, resources and interests, the students create and carry out a service learning project to reduce pollution and increase awareness of the issue in the community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.