Human Interaction with the Environment Lesson Plan: Creating Video Documentaries

Submitted by: Jason T. Bedell

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this environment lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6-12, students use BrainPOP resources to develop an understanding of how people impact the natural environment of different regions, as well as how the cultural make-up of a region affects how the people interact with the natural environment. Students will craft an articulate message to make the public aware of the consequences of human interaction with the environment.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Develop an understanding of how people impact the natural environment of different regions.
  2. Craft an articulate message to make the public aware of the consequences of human-environment interaction.
  3. Develop an understanding of how the cultural make-up of a region affects how the people interact with the natural environment.

Materials:

  • Student computers, at least 1 per pair
  • Projector to show Internet resources

Vocabulary:

human-environment interaction; location; equator; region; place; movement

Preparation:

Make sure students understand basic online research skills. Preview the Lesson Procedure that is in italics below, and copy and paste it into a Word document, blog post, wiki, or other source where you can modify it for class needs and make it available to students. Also make sure the following links are available to students to aid them in completing the assignment:

Placemarks (Step 3) Document
Step 3 Video
Step 4 Video
Example of a finished product

Lesson Procedure:

  1. To help students build background knowledge about how people and cultures interact with the environment, watch the BrainPOP movie Geography Themes.
  2. Have a discussion with the students about how humans can have an effect on the environment and what some of the consequences can be. Think aloud to give the students a frame of reference that is relevant to them. For example, "To get to work every day, I have to cross the Hudson River. That could be really hard if people had not built a bridge. However, that hurts the natural environment by encroaching on the natural habitat." Have the students think of several local examples, first as a class, then individually, to ensure that everyone understands the idea.
  3. Assign students into pair groups or allow students to choose their own. Give students a digital copy of the directions with all the important links available.
  4. Before they get started, it is helpful to model how to find and use Google Earth on the computers. It is also helpful to walk the students through the finished product. There is an example finished product in the Preparation section (above). The teacher will have to be very supportive while the students are working.
  5. Provide your modified version of the following directions to students:

    You will be creating video documentaries on human impact in Google Earth. You have to pick a country that we have studied this year and find at least 3 places where humans have affected or changed the geography. An example could be dams or irrigation to reroute water away from natural rivers. Then, you will create placemarks in Google Earth and record a tour. Your video will be shown to the class and posted online.

    Step 1: Choose a Country
    Watch the BrainPOP movie Map Skills as a refresher on how maps work. This will make Google Earth easier to navigate and understand the different types of layers used. You may choose any 1 country that we have studied this year, or other countries/regions possibly approved in discussion with the teacher.

    Step 2: Find Your Places
    Google Earth is a realistic 3D model of the earth. You need to find 3 landmarks in the country. For each landmark, you have to write 1 paragraph (5 sentences or more) explaining why it is important, how humans modified the natural geography, and how it impacts life in the region. The landmarks need to meet the following requirements:

    1) All of the landmarks have been affected or modified by humans.
    2) All of the landmarks have a significant impact on the lives of people in the local area or the larger country.
    3) Each landmark should be accompanied by a paragraph explaining its significance.
    4) Each landmark should have a picture or video to help people understand its significance.
    5) Each landmark should have a website link where people can find more information.

    Step 3: Create and Organize Your Tour
    Create your 3 placemarks and organize them in the order you will view them on your tour. See the Step 3 Document and the Step 3 Video in the Preparation [above] for resources.

    Step 4: Record Your Narrated Tour
    Record audio narration as you go through your tour. See the Step 4 Video in the Preparation [above] for resources.

    Step 5: Save Your Tour
    The video in the previous step shows you how to save the file. Right-click on your tour and click Save Place. Save it as Period-Lastname-Country.kmz. For example, if I’m in Mr. Ramsey’s 3rd period, I would save it as 3-Bedell-Peru.kmz. The naming convention makes it much easier to organize the files.

Extension Activity:

Show the student-made videos to the class and post them online.