Be the Change You Want for Your Community

Grades: 
9, 10, 11, 12

Learners measure and calculate impervious/pervious areas. They utilize their knowledge of the environmental impact of impervious surfaces to propose alternative solutions in their community. Students propose a service-learning project to raise awareness or take action about reducing impervious surfaces in the community. This lesson includes reflection and a final demonstration.

 

Lesson Rating 
0
Duration 
PrintTwo or Three 55-Minute Class Periods, Plus time to gather data and carry out service project and demonstration
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • measure and describe the percentage of impervious surfaces in the community.
  • analyze the environment impact of impervious surfaces on their community.
  • propose alternatives to impervious surfaces in the community.
  • create a presentation to inform the community about the need to decrease impervious surfaces. Presentation may take the form of an oral report, presentation software, newspaper article, creative film, poster, or informational flyer.
  • use his/her voice to plan a service project.
  • reflect on service experience.
  • demonstrate learning to the class, parents, and/or the community.
Materials 
  • Printout of a street level map of the area surrounding the school 
  • Four digital cameras
  • Four tape measures (one for each group)
  • Clipboards and pencils (one or more for each group)
  • Copies of Handouts 1-3 for each group
  • Learner copies of Handout: Service Plan
Bibliography 
  • National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. Pervious Concrete. 
  • Wikipedia "Impervious Surfaces." 

Instructions

Print
  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set: Read the following fictitious letter (or a real letter from the local planning commission or local school board. See Extensions):

    Dear Learners:

    I am writing to ask for your help on a community project. As you know, our community is growing rapidly and there are increasing demands for commercial and residential development.We are concerned about the increased use of impervious surfaces that accompany these developments and the potential for environmental degradation. Before we consider future developments, we would like to assess the existing use of impervious surfaces and reduce, if at all possible, the current use of impervious surfaces.

    We are asking you to serve as consultants to that end. Proposals should be received in my office by (date).Proposals will be presented at the (date) Planning Commission meeting.You will have 15 minutes for the presentation, followed by a question and answer session with the Planning Commission. Since we will be able to fund only one of the proposed plans, the most feasible plan will be forwarded to our business office for a cost and feasibility study. Thank You! Respectfully,

  2. Tell the class that they can make a positive recommendation to the planning commission that will reduce human impact on the environment and improve conditions for future generations. Organize the class into four groups that will work on this community consulting project.

  3. Write the following words on the board: cooperation, communication, respect, and listening. Tell the students that their first job is to use these four group skills to create a name and logo to use on their proposal to the planning commission. Tell them that you will walk around and listen for language that demonstrates the use of these group skills. Give the teams ten minutes to make their decision. After they have their names and logos, discuss the positive examples of teamwork.

  4. Draw a grid over a community map. Each square of the grid designates an area not larger than a typical city block. Assign each group an area (square) to conduct a “community scan.” (Assign areas near the school.) Give each learner a copy of Handout One: Directions for Community Scan. Teacher Note: This assignment could also be considered homework, in which case efforts should be made to assign the learners to sections near their own homes.

  5. Review and clarify the directions for the community scan. If this scan is to be done as a field trip, gather the necessary authorizations/approvals and visit the sites toobtain the data.

  6. Give the groups a timeline for completing the analysis and proposal.

  7. Teacher’s Note: When the groups have collected data and are considering recommendations, the teacher may assist the dialogue with some ideas for reducing impervious surfaces: bike paths, pedestrian paths, reduce road width; reduce or eliminate use of curbs; replace impervious material with more environmentally friendly material; eliminate or reduce concrete sidewalks; increase zoning requirements for lot size and green belts; require tree preservation and planting; building-code requirements for environmentally friendly materials in construction; tax incentives for residential rain water collection; stormwater drain filters; adjust height of tree/flower planters in parking lots; reconfigure parking patterns (rather than build more structures); land conservancy initiative; prohibit mowing of natural habitat near river banks; carpooling initiatives; and convert vacant lots to gardens/parks.

  8. Day Two:

    When the four teams are ready to present their proposals to the planning commission, set up the room like a board room. Give each corporate group 15 minutes to present their proposal with time between presentations for questions. The rest of the class will serve as the planning commission members. Remind them that they are acting as elected officials with the job of making decisions that benefit the whole community and show stewardship for the environment. They may ask questions for clarification about the proposals. It may take one or two class periods to hear all of the presentations.

  9. Optional: After all of the presentations are complete, have the planning commission--the entire class--vote by secret ballot for the best proposal. They should select the proposal based on anticipated impact and cost and explain in writing why they voted for the proposal that they did.

  10. Once all of the proposals have been completed and presented to the planning commission, have a reflection discussion. Ask the learners to share their new learning and reflect on their roles as advocates. Reflect on their effectiveness as a team. Discuss how cooperative teamwork benefits individuals and the community.

  11. Discuss how they can be advocates for the issue of pervious surfaces in the larger community. Discuss and brainstorm projects the class can organize to increase permeable surfaces in the community. Through the discussion, allow the students' enthusiasm to guide the class in the direction of potential projects that demonstrate their responsibility for the environment. Encourage the students to carry their influence into the larger community. Use Handout Four: Service Plan as a guide for planning and carrying outa service project. They may choose to do one project with the entire class or groups may take on smaller projects.

  12. Demonstration: After students carry out their service project, set up an opportunity for them to demonstrate their learning to parents, other students, and/or the larger community. The demonstration may take the form of an event or a publication. Videos, articles, and other products may be submitted to the Star-Ledger to reach a wider audience and raise awareness about the issue of impervious surfaces.

Cross Curriculum 

Learner teams will investigate a microcosm of their community for the purpose of identifying and recommending changes and alternatives to impervious surfaces. Follow student voice to plan advocacy or project ideas that arise out of research and discussion. Possible projects include creating a rain garden, planting trees, holding an environmental stewardship awareness campaign, promoting green spaces on school campus, or raising awareness in the community about living roofs, rain barrels, or gardening.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. 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. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Explain how <i>opportunity cost</i> relates to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
      3. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
      4. Benchmark HS.7 Explain why the civil society sector rather than the government or private sectors address particular economic areas.
      5. Benchmark HS.8 Compare actions for the common good in a variety of economic systems.
      6. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
    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.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
      4. Benchmark HS.9 Explain the role that public interest groups play in public policy formation.
    4. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      4. Benchmark HS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Build a case for giving, explaining why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.