Lesson Plans


2016 What Sustains Us? Florida Ecosystems in an Era of Rapid Change

List of Final Lesson Plans 

Teachers produced 19 draft final lesson plans from the educator workshop for use in their courses. (One teacher made two, and there were two teams of two teachers working on one lesson plan together.) These lessons plans range widely, though elements of climate fiction writing appear in at least five, oral history appears in at least two, and argumentative writing appears in at least five. Systems thinking appears in at least 12, and 17 of the lesson plans explicitly refer to Florida environmental and historical case studies. All science lesson plans include elements from the humanities; from considering the political history of human impacts in particular Florida ecosystems, to using climate fiction, oral history, or rhetorical writing to explore the limits of scientific explanation and help students to develop future-oriented environmental behaviors.

Individual Lesson Plan Descriptions

Prof. Francis “Jack” Putz, Department of Biology, UF

Sea Level Rise Induced Conversion of Coastal Forest into Salt Marsh: An Ecological Systems Approach

This lesson plan uses natural history and specimen collecting to help students create a graphical “systems” model to explain the principal physical and ecological factors involved in the replacement of coastal forest by salt marsh.

Diane Bassett, High School Science, Riverview High School, Sarasota

The Systematics of Biogeochemical Cycling

This lesson plan draws on carbon cycle systems activities from the forest day of the What Sustains Us workshop in order to help students understand the human impact upon oceans and the ethical implications of this information.

Brenda Breil, Middle School Science, PK Yonge Developmental Research School, Alachua

Topics in Climate Change

This lesson plan combines systems diagramming of ecosystems, oral histories of affected individuals, and the development of climate fiction stories about this ecosystem in the future, in order to help students to identify and then positively shape the impact that humans have on earth.

Bonnie Bresalier, Middle School Science, Lake Worth Middle School, Palm Beach

Web of Life” (with Lanete Kaiser)

This lesson plan has students use cards and yarn to model the relationships among producers and consumers in an ecosystem (including human activities), and adjust their system to changes when elements drop out, in order to understand that all organisms on Earth interact and depend upon each other to satisfy their basic needs.

Catelyn Cantrell, High School Language Arts, Q.I. Roberts Jr/Sr High School, Putnam

#1 “Imagining Careers in the Climate-Impacted Future

This lesson plan asked students to study and make systems maps of a Margaret Atwood climate fiction short story, and construct their own narratives describing possible future careers in an altered Florida, to develop rhetorical and argumentative writing ability.

#2 “Where do We Come From? UNESCO to North Florida Springs

This lesson plan asks students to study UNESCO heritage criteria, debate for and against a motion that the Florida Springs should be a UNESCO heritage site, and write letters for or against this motion, in order to assist students in constructing argumentative appeals.

Michelle Coolican, Middle School Science, Buddy Taylor Middle School, Flagler

Understanding What Gases Contribute to Acid Rain

This lesson has students explore the history of scientific research on acid rain in order to understand what causes acid rain, culminating in a final writing project about humans’ impact on natural resources, in order to help students think about their role in preserving natural resources and balancing industrial and environmental priorities. 

John Dickinson, High School Science, Oak Hall School, Alachua

Carbon Neutralization and You

This activity would have students calculate their carbon footprints, and the amount of carbon sequestered by a long-leaf pine tree, in order to assess the impacts of both human and environmental influences on carbon levels.

Mark Gasvoda, Elementary School Social Studies/Language Arts, Carrollwood Elementary School, Hillsborough

Not Enough Drinking Water

This lesson plan asks students to listen to Southwest Florida Water Management District interviews, draft systems diagrams of the drinking water system, and discuss ways to improve access to fresh drinking water to engage humanities concepts of “change-causes, processes, and consequences”, as well as “time, place, and space”, and help students to prepare for future drinking water shortages.

Angelica Gomez, High School ESE, East Ridge High School, Lake

Creating Earth’s Story

This lesson plan has students read and interpret Margaret Atwood’s “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” short story, create systems maps of the events in the story, and discuss how elements in the story could be altered to change the whole story, in order to teach students to sequence events and write narratives to develop well-structured event sequences.

Shelley Greenwald, Middle School Math, Fort White Jr/Sr High School, Columbia

Saved by the Footprint” (with Jackie Sohn)

This lesson plan has students develop and conduct oral history interviews about elders’ climate experiences, and calculate/compare their carbon footprints with those of the interviewees, in order to help students increase the awareness of the impact of their choices on earth, and learn the mean/median/mode/SD of a set of data. 

Lanete Kaiser, Elementary School Science, Calvary Chapel Academy, Brevard

(with Bonnie Bresalier, above) 

Muriel Martin-Dupre, High School Science, Pompano Beach High School, Broward

Is There a Measurable Difference in Dissolved Oxygen Level Between Day and Night?

Students will carry out an empirical sampling of water from the same fresh water source at two times of day and analyze their data. They will then discuss what factors could be creating a change between the two samples, including human impacts, and the consequences of the availability of dissolved oxygen on food systems security, in order to help students discuss the need for adequate monitoring of environmental parameters when making policy decisions. 

Julianne McNellis, High School Social Studies, Suncoast Polytechnic High School, Sarasota

Climate Change Decision-Making Model

This lesson plan has students construct a circular-flow model of climate change-related relationships in order to define and identify positive and negative externalities of current human activities related to Florida’s environment.

Karen Metcalf, Middle School Science, Cornerston Learning Community, Leon

An Ecosystem Mystery

This lesson plan asks student groups to make systems diagrams of saltmarsh ecosystems, gives them additional resources that tell the stories of indigenous communities on the coast, and asks them to propose explanations for the changes we are seeing in coastal climates between prehistoric periods and today, in order to help them construct an argument supported by empirical evidence of how physical changes to ecosystems affect populations.

Stephanie Moody (Master Teacher), Civics, Herbert C. Hoover Middle School, Brevard

Email Your Representative – Problems of the Indian River Lagoon

This activity has students create a systems thinking map of human-environment interaction on the Indian River lagoon, select threats to the lagoon based on research, and write letters to elected public officials detailing their research, potential solutions, and personal actions to address the problem, in order to research public policy to resolve a local problem. 

Christine Morrow, High School Science, Bishop John J. Snyder High School, Duval

What is Life? What Sustains Life?

This lesson plan asks students at the outset of the academic year to review writing technique and write paragraphs answering the questions “What is life? What sustains life?”, and then to discuss whether the answers to these questions can be tested scientifically or not and why, in order to understand the range and limits of scientific inquiry.

Madge Nanney, Middle School Science, Darnell Cookman School of the Medical Arts, Duval

Tying it Together

This lesson plan asks students to research and create a systems diagram of the food web in a saltwater Florida ecosystem, in order to identify the impact that humans have had on ecosystem changes.

Lauren Ortiz, Elementary School All Subjects, Hammett Bowen Elementary School, Marion

Systems through Children’s Books

This lesson asks children to diagram the systems in popular children’s books such as “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, in order to help students to describe the relationships between steps of a procedure, and describe how characters and actions contribute to a sequence.

Michael Soapes, High School Science, Ocoee High School, Orange

Systems in Aquatic Food Webs

This lesson plan engages systems dance activities and the Southeastern Forests and Climate Change curriculum activities to help students create and analyze aquatic food web systems and learn how human and non-human variables relate in these systems.

Jackie Sohn, Elementary School All Subjects, Bronson Elementary School, Levy

(with Shelley Greenwald, above) 

Mikie Temples, Middle School Science, James Weldon Johnson Middle School, Duval

(with Madge Nanney, above)

Andy Vitkus, Elementary School All Subjects, Pine View School, Sarasota

AndyVitkus-TanksForTheWaterTanks for the Water, Mr. Bromeliad, stated Mrs. Frog!

This lesson plan uses field trips to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the development of a story narrative about the relationship of frogs and bromeliads to help students understand and verbalize symbiotic relationships and the consequences of change in an ecosystem.