In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. This article explains how bioremediation takes place via microorganism digestion of toxic waste generated by human activity. Students will learn how this process occurs naturally and how this natural process has been researched and is now utililized to clean up spills of certain hazardous substances. This lesson includes a vocabulary guide, a Cornell Notes note-taking guide, text dependent questions, and a writing prompt, along with answer keys and a writing rubric.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 11, 12
Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Computer Media Player
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: bioremediation, attenuation, toxic chemical spills, environmental cleanup, microorganisms, contamination, soil contamination
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain how microorganisms in the soil can help to clean up toxic chemical spills in a process called bioremediation.
- Explain how bioremediation has been used to help with the cost of toxic chemical spill cleanup.
- 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.
- Construct a written argument that clearly establishes a main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
- General familiarity with microorganisms and their ability to digest chemicals that would be toxic to other organisms is needed.
- This titled "Can Microbes Clean Up Our Oily Mess?" (2:40) provides an introduction to bioremediation.
- This video titled "Decomposers and Decay GCSE Science Revision" (2:25, uploaded by YouTube user JamJarMMX) reviews the role of bacteria in decomposition, providing an overview of the role of decomposers in the environment.
- Basic knowledge of environmental contamination of toxic chemicals and the cleanup.
- The EPA website provides information in reference to what they require of toxic chemicals and their cleanup.
- This 3-minute NSF video discusses how oil can be broken down and the problems associated with those current methods.
- This video titled "EPA Announces Toxic Clean-Up Plans" (2:02, uploaded by YouTube user CBS6 Albany) discusses a toxic chemical clean-up in New York and the difficulties associated with it.
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial.
- In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in "Bioremediation: Nature's Way to a Cleaner Environment" include the title, subtitle, and headings.
- Based on the provided writing rubric, 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), body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and include relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s). o 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. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- How can toxic chemical spills impact the soil in the planet?
- Toxic chemicals can travel into the air, water and soil. Their impact on the environment depends on the type of chemical, how much was released, the concentration of the chemical and the environment it is found in. For example, chemicals in ground water would have an immediate effect on humans. Some chemicals can cause immediate damage to the environment, so may take years to show up. If the chemical enters the food web, it could cause serious ramifications.
- How are toxic spills cleaned up?
- This depends on the type of spill and how quickly it will cause damage to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency many different programs to deal with cleanup depending on the chemical.
- that will allow students to see different types of cleanup methods.
- How can microorganisms be involved in the processofbioremediation?
- Microorganisms, like bacteria, have evolved to decompose or break down almost anything for energy. Bioremediation is a waste management technique that uses naturally occurring or introduced bacteria to break down toxic wastes.
- How has the processofbioremediation been improved upon over time?
- Scientists are now able to engineer bacteria to possibly make them better adapted to their job. In addition, scientists have learned that nutrients should be added to the area of contamination to help increase the amounts of beneficial bacteria.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Begin the lesson by asking the class: "What are some toxic spills that you know about?"
- Students are likely to mention The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and perhaps The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. They may also mention local spills, like leaking of waste water treatment plants and radioactive accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima.
- Next, ask: "How can toxic chemical spills be cleaned up?"
- Students may or may not have a lot of responses for this, depending on their experiences. Oil spills can be burnt off, dispersed with chemicals so that bacteria can better decompose them. Booms are used to contain spills so that less area is affected. In addition, other substances may be released or dumped on the spill area to neutralize the chemical or to soak it up.
- Then, ask: "Whatisbioremediation?"
- Again, depending on their background, answers will vary. Bioremediation is a waste management technique that uses naturally occurring or introduced bacteria to break down toxic wastes.
- Explain that in the case of the Gulf of Mexico's Deepwater Horizon Spill, the process of bioremediation was utilized (most likely students will not have known this). Then, end the discussion by informing students that bioremediation involves utilizing living organisms to clean wastes that enter into the environment and that they will be reading an article that addresses it.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the article "Bioremediation: Nature's Way to a Cleaner Environment."
- For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section. They can also number the sections (Section 1 "The Problem", Section 2 "Why Bioremediation Works", Section 3 "Technology Transfer", Section 4 "Stretching Remediation", Section 5 "Future Challenges").
- Provide each student with a copy of the Cornell Notes note-taking guide. If teachers are unfamiliar with this technique, please watch this titled "How To... Cornell Notes" (6:02, uploaded by YouTube user sofiatreeproductions). Be sure to also provide each student with a copy of the vocabulary guide for the article.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: "Bioremediation: Nature's Way to a Cleaner Environment"
- Headings: "The Problem", "Why Bioremediation Works", "Technology Transfer", "Stretching Remediation Dollars", "Future Challenges"
- Have students fill out the Cornell Notes packet (note-taking guide) as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. Students should also be directed to pause and fill in the appropriate sections of the vocabulary guide as they encounter each word in the article. It might be easier for students to engage in multiple reads of the text (students could first be instructed to read through the text and complete the vocabulary guide and then engage in a second reading where they go back and complete the Cornell Notes packet). The teacher should monitor students as they work, providing support and guidance as needed.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and/or use a dictionary to define the words.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting their completed Cornell Notes packets, checking their work, providing written feedback, and grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers should use this Cornell Notes sample answer key to help them assess students' answers to the Cornell Notes packet.
- For discussion of 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. Teachers should use this vocabulary sample answer key to help them assess students' understanding of the academic and subject-specific terms referenced in the text.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Bioremediation does not always have to happen on site. Depending on the area of contamination, the toxic waste could be moved to a lab-like setting. Within this lab, the bioremediation can occur.
- Bioremediation cannot be used for all substances. In addition, sometimes when the microbes break down the toxic chemicals, the leftover waste from the microbes is still toxic.
- Not all sites are suitable for bioremediation. Proper soil, oxygen, moisture content, and temperature are necessary for successful bioremediation.
- Students should also realized that while bioremediation can be very helpful in the long term, when you are looking at a large spill, like Exxon or the Deepwater Horizon, it will not solve the immediate damage to wildlife.
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 for students' understanding by collecting their 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.
- Teachers should use the sample answer key to help them assess students' answers to the text-dependent questions.
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, be sure to review their responses to the other text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
- Before assigning the students the writing prompt, have them read aloud, as a class, "Bioremediation: Nature's Way to a Cleaner Environment." The information in this article will be integrated into their response to the writing prompt.
- After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or withanLCD projector and discuss:
- How the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph; have students identify the main point of the piece. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- Have students examine each of the body paragraphs and explain how each supports the main point of the piece.
- Have students identify where the writer effectively uses textual evidence from the article for support of his or her points.
- Have students identify the use of transition words or phrases that make the ideas flow.
- Ask students to identify where domain-specific vocabulary is used accurately and effectively.
- Have students read the final paragraph to see how the writer wrapped up the piece and connected back to the main point established in the introduction.
- Teachers may have students use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
- Ask students to describe the bioremediation and complete a group concept map of the process to check for comprehension.
- Play "So What?" Ask students to answer the following prompts:
- What takeaways from the lesson will be important to know three years from now?
- Why will they be important for future citizenship participation in dealing with the environment?
- Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to construct a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They must refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric for the writing prompt and go over it 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. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts:
There has been an abandoned gas station that has been sitting for the past 10 years. Residents in the area have noticed a lot of petrochemicals spilled around the back area of the property and an empty rusted metal vessel with thick motor oil reside inside. Additionally, the health department has received several reports of petrochemical odors in the drinking water from those with homes nearby. You are an environmental scientist who specializes in toxic waste removal, and have been asked to provide suggestions for cleanup of the soil to prevent seepage into the ground water. Using evidence from the article, construct a multi-paragraph argument outlining your recommendation for the most economical cleanup of the toxic waste at the site.
- Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.
Accommodations & Recommendations
For students struggling with the science content:
- This titled "Shaily Mahendra: Bioremediation" (5:49, uploaded by YouTube user poptech) offers a great explanation of bioremediation for students who may benefit from receiving the information in a visual format. Teachers may wish to show this before or after students read the text, "Bioremediation: Nature's Way to a Cleaner Environment."
For readers struggling with the note-taking or vocabulary guides:
- Teachers might want to fill in some of the answers (or model how to complete through think-aloud) on the Cornell Notes sheets for section one, providing perhaps the key idea related to the problem but leaving some of the supporting details (bulleted on the sample answer key) for students to fill in on their own.
- Likewise, teachers might want to fill in some of the answers for the vocabulary, leaving others for students to complete on their own.
For struggling readers:
- It might benefit students to chunk the text. Have students independently read section one, then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
- Then, have students highlight the selected vocabulary for section one on the article. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the academic vocabulary words to get them started. The teacher can think aloud as he or she decides which vocabulary strategy or strategies to use to define a word, and think aloud while deciding which meaning from a dictionary entry with multiple meanings would be the best fit for how the word is used in the context of the article.
- Then, have students complete the note-taking/vocabulary guides for the rest of section one. When students are ready, have them share out their answers and provide corrective verbal feedback as needed, allowing students to make corrections to their work. Then repeat this process for the other sections of the text if needed. Or, at least have students complete the guides for the next section and receive feedback on their work before they move on.
For struggling writers:
It might help struggling writers to provide them with an outline to help them structure their response. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Introduction paragraph:
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- A few specifics from the text they might want to use to support or explain the topic
- A place to write down their main point(s)
- Body paragraphs:
- Topic sentence (the first sentence of each body paragraph that will reveal the point of the paragraph and will connect to the paper’s overall main point)
- Specific evidence from the text for support in each body paragraph
- Ideas for transition words
- Ideas for use of selected vocabulary
- Ideas on how to wrap up their piece and connect back to the main point(s).
- Cornell offers a bioremediation lab that can be conducted in the classroom. In this activity, students will design and conducts experiments concerning bioremediation of groundwater polluted with nitrate. Both the teacher and student guides can be found .
- Have students research bioremediation using natural sea water or soil. Our natural environments already have beneficial bacteria, so students will be able to design their own experiments to see which environments are most suitable for bioremediation.
- Students could research the limitations of bioremediation, which are not fully addressed in the article. Groups of two or four students could work together to conduct research and share their findings with the class.
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Computer Media Player
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials and resources featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
The grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the 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: Mark Bradham
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Volusia
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.