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Environmental Issues Journal

(supports the Environmental Issues course)

Activity Information:

Grade Appropriate Level: 5-9
Duration: Used as a course. Eight classes of 30 minutes
Materials: Duo-tang journal, videos, The Lorax story By Dr. Seuss, usually available at most school or public libraries.

Included with plan: parable called, "Half-a-loaf", and poem called, "The Faceless Ones" Both of these are included with this lesson plan.


  • Teach students about environmental issues.

  • Students will learn how to address serious world issues, informing and encouraging them to acquire balanced information & take positive action.

car exhaust - Env. Issues.png

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

Life Science (B.C.'s Living Resources)

It is expected that students will:

  • identify living resources in the local environment

  • describe how humans use B.C.'s living resources

  • describe the known and potential environmental impacts of using B.C.'s living resources

  • devise a strategy for sustaining a living resource


Life Science (Social Issues)

It is expected that students will:

  • assess different impacts of using renewable and non-renewable natural resources

  • compare and contrast the practical, ethical, and economic dimensions of population growth and polluted environments

  • relate extraction, harvest of earth's resources to sustainability and reduction of waste

reef - Env. Issues.png


Co-operative learning, critical and creative thinking, research, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Suggested Instructional Strategies:

Potential topics could include: The ocean crisis, i.e. climate impact on fish species, overharvesting of commercial fish, decline in coral reefs, endangered species, the future of our tropical rainforests, basic ecological 

concepts, and our ecological footprint. Ecological footprint is the area of land and water required to support a defined economy or population at a specified standard of living.

  • In the first class, we discuss what topics students would like to cover. As well, students design their own criteria for how this course and their journals are going to be evaluated.

  • Have students write their reflections weekly on various issues in a journal. They can paste in photos or sketch species etc. This is a time for them to reflect on this course, what they like, don't like, what they have learned, what they think, how they feel etc. and some solutions.

trash - Env. issues.png

  • This is an excellent opportunity for the teacher to see what students are getting out of the course and this lesson, make improvement suggestions and communicate.

  • Students are expected to keep a duo-tang journal, (or computer-based) in which they write weekly reflections on a variety of topics, based on their research from a variety of sources and viewpoints, reading etc.

  • Encourage students to contact field experts around their topic of study, i.e. wildlife, marine biologists etc. Their journal writings may be based on an activity that we have done, a poem or book read to them, or something they may have watched on tv or what they have learned etc.

orangutan - Env. Issues.png

Journal Topics:

1. Why did you sign up for this course? What are your expectations? What would you like to see? How did you like making your own evaluation etc.

2. Reflections on videos about other geographically special places in the world (included), balancing preservation, extraction and other local needs. Here’s a link that may help:

Cheetah - Env. Issues.png

3. Extinction is forever. After they complete a variety of activities (species diversity, how fast our rainforests are disappearing, have them write about their reflections on the activities.

  • Debate topics: After participating in a debate on a variety of subjects, they would write down their thoughts. A debate idea: divide students in groups with one being the aboriginals who live in the rainforest and depend on it for food, shelter etc. another group being farmers who want to burn the forest to grow crops, non-human species who live in the forest (animals, birds, insects etc.) and environmentalists who want to preserve the forests forever.

  • For gifted students, the teacher may want to suggest they research the role of the global pharmaceutical companies who want to preserve the Amazon forest because it may contain the next cure for cancer… Students can explore the challenges of consensus decision-making.

  • Caution students to be wary of research and bias from groups that use a crisis as a “fundraising tool” with no interest in solutions, as pointed out by the B.C. Premier John Horgan recently. Other groups utilize youth as "sacrificial lambs" to be arrested as pointed out by a BC judge recently. Ensure appropriate supervision and guidance are provided for this activity as students explore controversial, polarizing and politically charged subjects like logging.


4. The Lorax. By Dr. Seuss. Have 2 students read aloud the story of the Lorax (it is about forests and resources), and then have students write about what the story said, what was the message?


5. Read the parable called "Half-a-loaf". In this journal, they were asked to reflect on this parable, its meaning, messages, lessons etc. This parable appears below.

6. Students may write poems and add them to the bottom of their journals.

7. A poem called "The Faceless Ones". Read the poem below.


Note: The journals worked really well. Even the students that were weak writers excelled at this task. The topics are endless. The above are just a few ideas. My students wrote at least a page on each topic in their journals. The responses were excellent.

Cross-Curricular Interests:

Math, Science, Information Technology and Social Studies. Environmental science

Language Arts (Creative writing)

Supplemental Poems:

Poem Preview:
The Faceless Ones
Jack Whyte

The Faceless Ones - image preview

Poem Preview:
Half a Loaf 
by John Rye Kinghorn

Half a Loaf - image preview

Download full poems here:

Download the PDF version of the

Environmental Issues Journal Activity below:

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