Airing Our Concerns – I Can See Clearly Now

6, 7, 8

Learners will have an opportunity to investigate the multi-faceted concern of air pollution. While researching individually, learners will then share findings to broaden their knowledge base and clarify problems for concern. The learners will also analyze perspectives of involved groups who are working to address air pollution. Learners will be involved in a role play to develop a strategy for addressing air quality concerns.  Consequently, the complexity of problems and solutions will be revealed. This lesson will also serve as the first of two parts in planning for a strategy, whether collective or individual, for the common good.

PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • research issues related to air pollution.
  • collect and share key data in response to a research question.
  • compose a report to include research information.
  • collaborate with peers to discuss air quality issues, stating opinions with supporting rationale.
  • identify rights and responsibilities of various groups concerned with air quality standards.
  • Learner copies of Handout 1: Research Questions
  • Learner copies of Handout 2: Guidelines for Report Writing
  • Learner copies of Handout 3: Data Collection Sheet
  • Learner copies of Handout 4: Assessment Rubric for a Report
  • Learner copies of Handout 5: Role Play Guidelines

Internet Public Library


  1. Days One and Two Anticipatory Set: Using a clear container with a lid, add different forms of pollutants such as sand/dirt and ashes to represent particulate matter and some forms of cleaning or health and beauty spray to represent gaseous pollutants. Other substances that compromise air quality may also be added for representation. Direct the learners to their information page from Lesson One entitled, Common Contaminants Consuming Clean Air, (Handout Two, Lesson One) and tell them that this clear container and its contents represent air pollution. Invite learners to share their intellectual and affective responses to the representation. Take a few moments to have the learners brainstorm the many sources from which air pollution is derived. The answers can be recorded on chart paper, whiteboard or overhead. (Some examples include: volcanoes, construction sites, factories, waste management sites, solvent use, burning, wildfires, roads, agriculture, vehicles, recreations, etc.) If time allows, engage learners in critical thinking about organizing their responses into categories such as “point vs. non-point sources,”“natural vs. human-made,” “mobile vs. area,” etc.

    Teacher Note: Point pollution – pollutants are dumped at a single readily recognized place. Non-point pollution – pollutants are carried down stream from the source of the pollution. For example, washing cars, the soap is washed into a water source.

  2. Ask learners to share some of their findings from the Lesson One homework Learner/Parent Homework Reflection - Every Breath You Take- (Handout Three-Lesson One) as a related follow - up to this anticipatory set.

  3. Brainstorm vocabulary, questions and the prior knowledge learners have about air pollution. This can be done quickly and orally, without having to record ideas.

  4. Give the learners an opportunity to share questions of personal interest, which they would like to investigate.The Research Questions (Handout One) may be distributed at this time for ideas. However, the learners’ ideas should be honored and encouraged to maximize their ownership in the investigative process.

  5. Distribute copies of the Guidelines for Report Writing (Handout Two), the Data Collection Sheet (Handout Three), and the rubric for assessing a report Assessment Rubric for a Report (Handout Four). Teacher Note: See the website, for more detailed guidelines. Expectations may be increased or simplified depending on grade level, expectations, or an interdisciplinary approach. It is also optional to collect and share data rather than carry the process to writing a report.

  6. Using key words that relate to their chosen research question, have the learners begin their research for information in areas such as the library, the internet, the newspaper, magazines, etc.

  7. Announce that the completed report is due at the start of Day Three.

  8. Day Three:

  9. Learners will use the knowledge they gained to help them role-play a scenario. Your community is in violation of standards set for emission control (this can be ozone gases or particulate matter). A task force has been assembled to examine the issue of compliance with air quality standards. You will take on a role as a member in the task force.Your opinions will be a reflection of your position in the task force. Ultimately, you and your fellow members of the task force will recommend a plan of action to move toward compliance of the standards.

  10. Randomly distribute or allow learners to choose a role card Role Play Guidelines (Handout Five). Once each learner has read his/her role guidelines, allow a few moments for clarification and discussion among learners. Have learners meet with like roles to share ideas and solidify their perspective.

  11. Conduct an open-ended discussion about their rights in the situation and their responsibilities toward solving the dilemma with a solution that meets the needs of the common good (reflective of their respective roles).

  12. Then ask whether voluntary measures or regulatory/legal measures should be emphasized as part of the solution and whether transportation of point and non-point sources is the key target for solution initiatives (see right hand box on role play card). Ask members to defend their choices with supporting reasons.

  13. At the conclusion of the class period, collect the learners’ completed research/report papers from class periods one and two.


Informal assessment of the Data Collection Sheet (see Handout 3) and an assessment of the research paper based on the Assessment Rubric for a Report (Handout 4).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
      2. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.11 Identify a corporation's responsibilities to its community.