Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan #20

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Wanted: A Breath of Fresh Air
Investigative Journalism on the Causes, Effects, and Methods to Control Air Pollution

Grades 7 to 12

Language Arts, Journalism, Science, Geography, Social Studies

In this lesson, students examine the causes and effects of air pollution, as well as ways in which various industries and government organizations are aiming to control it. Students first use the Internet to answer a series of questions about air pollution and to compile a list of related Web sites. Students then use these Web site and information gathered to write an informative news article on air pollution topics.




1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: In their journals, students respond to the following question (written on the board prior to class):

  • What are some of the causes of pollution in your community/province?

Students then share their answers and discuss how these types of pollution directly and indirectly affect them.

.Divide students into groups of three, and seat each group at a computer with Internet access. Students should be told that they will be going on an Internet scavenger hunt, each group finding one Web site that provides the answer for each of the questions below (written on the board prior to class for easy reference):

  • What elements in the air are considered pollutants?
  • What are some of the causes of air pollution?
  • How does air pollution affect people and the environment?
  • What is the name of an organization that aims to fight the causes of air pollution?
  • What is the name of an organization that supports and defends the interests of those who cause air pollution?
  • What type of legislation has been enacted to control air pollution?
  • How is air quality measured?

When students find an appropriate Web site to answer a question, they should write down the URL (Web address) and the title of the Web site, as well as the answer to the question. Students should follow this procedure for all of the questions, answering each question with a different Web site.

. Discuss with students the requirements of writing a news article (check out SNN's Writing Guide). They need to know the 5W's of News: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). Tell them about the inverted pyramid. This means that articles should be written with the most important information first and the least important last. Use the SNN Writing Guide to give students further information on journalistic writing.

5. WRAP-UP/ HOMEWORK: Divide students into seven small groups, each group assigned one of the questions from the Internet scavenger hunt on air pollution. Students then share the Web addresses of the Web sites they found for each answer with the appropriate groups (so that each new group will have a list of Web sites to use to answer their question).

Each group then uses the Web addresses compiled by classmates during the Internet scavenger hunt to research their question and then create an informative news article on that question. Each article should include a thorough response to the question, at least one picture or graphic, and a list of the Web sites (with Web addresses) that they used for their research.



  • How would you define "pollution"?
  • What is air pollution, and what causes it?
  • What is the ozone layer, and how does the burning of fossil fuels affect it?
  • What is the "greenhouse effect," and how does it relate to auto emissions?
  • How has improved technology affected the quality of air?
  • What dangers does poor air quality pose to humans?
  • What ideas do you have of ways to reduce air pollution?



Students will be evaluated based on written journal response, participation in class discussion, ability to find correct answers on the Internet, appropriate compilation of Web sites, and group articles focussing on an air pollution topic.





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