Words of the Environment

Middle School and High School Teacher

On day one, the students will list as many words as possible related to environmental science and on day two connect the meanings of each to real life situations based on research.

Grade Level: 8 - 10th

Subject: Environmental, Science

Length of Time: 2-3 Class Periods

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Common Core Alignment

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.9.RST.2 -

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.9.RST.5 -

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.9.RST.4 -

- (See note; not applicable as a separate requirement)

Objectives & Outcomes

The students will be able to identify, define, and relate environmental terms to their life and to the world in general.

Materials Needed

Internet access or other research resources (Choose a number of terms students will be responsible for: 10, 15, 25, etc.)

Prepare ahead of time:  List of words related only to a separate topic not related to the environment as an example for students.  (Human body:  heart, lungs, bones, skin, disease, etc.)


Opening to Lesson

  • Say the sample topic aloud to students: Human Body
  • Ask students to name one word related to the human body
  • Make a list of their responses
  • Ask students if they notice any unusual facts about the event(s)

Body of Lesson


  • Choose one student to verbally explain one of the terms to the class in three or four sentences
  • Repeat, using three or four more terms
  • Tell students that every term on display can be explained and related to the human body

Guided Practice

  • Tell students the same thing can be done for the environment
  • While at their seats, independently, have students list as many words they can think of related to the environment
  • Next, allow students to research more terms using the Internet or other resources
  • Tell students they are only to make the list of 25 (or other predetermined number) words related to the environment
  • Remind students that words such as “birds” are not acceptable, even though they live in the environment, it is not an environment-related term
  • Once each student has the list of 25 words, collect the lists (review each list)
  • On day two, distribute a new list to each student
  • Explain the rest of the assignment: They are to research each term and write a 3-4 sentence explanation for each word as to how it relates to the environment.
  • As always, remind students to paraphrase and summarize the information found during their research
  • Collect all final lists and explanations

Independent Practice

  • For homework: Use some of the words and have students create a sub-list for those words.  For example, for human body:  heart- create x-number of words related to the heart.  Do the same for environment.


Allow students to share some of the terminology, especially words they were not familiar with prior to the assignment.  Remind students the first step in any topic is awareness.  Knowing the terms increases awareness, which may lead to a more in depth study.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Final written report with short three-four sentence explanation for each term identified from day one.

Modification & Differentiation

Students may work in pairs; prepare a list ahead of time; use one aspect of the environment (air pollution, water pollution, etc.); students creatively present their information using Power Point or other display options using graphics, pictures, etc.; assign one term to each student to do a more comprehensive and detailed report about it.

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