Controversial Environmental Issues

Kathryn Gregory
Multiple Subject Teacher

Students will research and debate multiple topics in the topic of environmental health. The class will take sides on whether they are for or against the controversial issue.

Grade Level: 6 - 8th

Subject: English/Language Arts, Environmental, Science

Length of Time: 2 Class Periods

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Common Core Alignment

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1 - Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Objectives & Outcomes

Students will be able to research a controversial issue and present their argument for or against the argument. Students will analyze information given and take a stance on whether they are for or against the issue based on their peer’s research.

Materials Needed

  • computer lab
  • various copies of the worksheet for each student
  • pencil


Opening to Lesson

  • The teacher will ask the students what controversial environmental topics they have heard of and that are important to them.
  • Lead a discussion about the issues that are happening now in the environment.

Body of Lesson

  • Students will be assigned a controversial topic and they will be assigned the “for” or “against” viewpoint.
  • 2 students should be assigned each topic, but one will research for and one will research against the issue.
  • Students use time in the computer lab to find credible sources that argue their side of the issue.
  • Students will write a short summary of their issue that is concise and clear and accurately describes the viewpoint of the issue.
  • This can be done in 1-2 class periods in the computer lab (1 hour each) or for homework if students have internet access at home.
  • has a great summary of the controversial topics.
  • The next class period, students will present their summary to the class.
  • The rest of the class will write notes on each student’s topic and choose whether they are for or against the topic using the attached worksheet.

Controversial Issues: (examples)

  • Genetically Modified Foods
  • Fracking
  • The use of Glyphosate in agriculture
  • Limiting births to control the growing population
  • Sale of plastic water bottles
  • The sale of tropical fish for home aquariums
  • Vegetarian diet to help the environment
  • Searching for resources in Antarctica or the Artic
  • Hydroelectric dams in Patagonia
  • Wind as a source of energy
  • Build the Keystone Pipeline
  • Store Nuclear waste underground
  • Big Shopping stores such as Walmart
  • More ideas can be found at.


Students can discuss their issues through a presentation.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will complete a summary of the topic they are assigned, arguing for or against their issue.

Modification & Differentiation

If some students need extra help, the teacher can work with them in small groups. Teacher can also give advice on topics. Teacher should be motoring progress along the way in order to be certain that students conceptually understand the task at hand.

Download Attachments

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