In this lesson, students will analyze an that addresses accidental wastewater spills in North Dakota from the use of fracking. The text describes how fracking has caused widespread water and soil contamination. Researchers have found high levels of contaminants and salt in surface waters. Soil at the spill sites contain radium, and in some places radium was found to be present even 4 years after a spill. Researchers studied almost 4,000 spill sites in North Dakota to connect the soil and water contamination directly to fracking spills. This lesson plan is designed to support reading in the content area; it includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 11, 12
Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: fracking, pollution, natural gas, oil, nonrenewable resources, soil contamination, Radium, hydraulically fractured oil, biodegredation, informational text, text complexity
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Identify the ways in which hydraulic fracturing can affect the environment.
- Identify any possible benefits from the use of hydraulic fracturing.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Determine the central idea of the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific dents. vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
- Students need a basic understanding of chemistry.
- The Biology Project has a good
- This 18-minute video from ThePenguinProf titled "Basic Chemistry Concepts Part I" is a more detailed tutorial that covers basic chemistry including radioactive elements.
- This 5-minute video from Fuse School titled "What are Radioactive Isotopes" will help students who need more background on why radioactive elements work the way they do.
- Students should also be familiar with how fossil fuels are formed. This three-minute video from Earth: The Operators' Manual titled "Formation of Fossil Fuels" explains how they are formed and the consequences of using them up quickly.
- A basic knowledge of geology and groundwater would also be helpful for greater comprehension of the article used in this lesson. "What is Groundwater?" from the Groundwater Foundation is a great informational website.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text, including use of word parts, context clues, and dictionary skills.
- Students should know that "central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author's main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces. Key details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
- Based on the writing rubric provided with this lesson, students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site from Smart-Words provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What is a fossil fuel?
- Fossil Fuel: A natural fuel such as gas or coal, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms.
- What are the consequences of using fossil fuels?
- Fossil fuels are non-renewable, so they can run out. Because fossil fuels are produced from living organisms, when they are burnt or used for energy, carbon waste is produced, which contributes to our greenhouse gases. In addition, extraction methods and transport can lead to accidental spills.
- What are the benefits of fracking?
- Fracking has many benefits, but most of them are temporary. The increase in jobs and decrease in cost of fuel has been a very beneficial boost for the economy. The burning of natural gas releases fewer contaminants than burning coal. Coal mining costs many lives, it is dangerous and causes lung cancer.
- What are the consequences of fracking?
- There have not been long-term studies that show the effects of fracking to the soil, drinking water and fresh water. While it is cleaner than coal, it still produces a lot of greenhouse gases. Increased production of natural gas is slowing our conversion to wind, solar, and geothermal sources of energy.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class: Where do fossil fuels come from?
- Students may respond that they are formed from the remains of living organisms and are found deep in the Earth.
- Next, ask the students: Why aren't fossil fuels considered renewable?
- Fossil fuels are not considered renewable because they take so long to be produced. Humans use them much faster than they are produced.
- Show this National Geographic (5 minutes) titled "What is Fracking" that discusses the use of fracking in North Dakota. Ask the students if they have any questions or would like to make any comments.
- End the discussion by informing students that they will be reading an article that addresses fracking in North Dakota and the consequences that have resulted from fracking spills.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the "Contamination in North Dakota Linked to Fracking Spills" from Science Daily. For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph.
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
- Before students begin reading, point out the summary at the top of the page, the photograph and caption, and the introduction in enlarged font below the caption.
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed. Make sure to provide print or online dictionaries for students to define the unknown vocabulary they select.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students’ completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- For discussion on students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Students may believe that when the wastewaster is injected back into the ground that the ground will be able to decontaminate it, but we have no long-term studies to verify what may happen.
- Students also need to remember that we have a limited amount of water, it is just recycled. If we contaminate the water, we will have restrictions on the amount of freshwater available.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- Before students complete the writing prompt for the summative assessment be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
- After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response on an overheadorwithanLCD projector and discuss the following:
- Have students examine the first and last paragraph to see how the author started and finished his or her argument. Per the task given in the prompt, the response should essentially argue why there should be stronger regulation even though there are some benefits to fracking.
- Have students examine the benefits of fracking in paragraph two. The evidence here comes from the writing prompt itself as well as textual evidence from the article.
- Have students point out the effective use of textual evidence in paragraph three and four that supports the argument that there should be stronger regulation regarding the use of fracking.
- Ask students to identify use of domain-specific vocabulary in the response (e.g., fracking, radium, brines, inorganic compounds, pollute, aquatic, wastewater, hydraulic fracturing).
- As a final closure to the lesson, provide students with an exit ticket. Have the students write on their exit ticket whether they are for or against fracking and list one reason why.
- Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
- Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address.
- The prompt: Fracking brings jobs and prosperity to many of America's small towns. They have provided 2.1 million jobs, and the price of natural gas has come down 47%, saving citizens $1,000 dollars or more each year. Using evidence from the article, defend the position that fracking needs stronger regulation even though it brings jobs and money to a lot of families in need.
- Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting the Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."
Accommodations & Recommendations
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the Florida Standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Jennifer Heflick
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Brevard
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.