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Teaching Ecology Post 7: Humans and the Environment

This topic of ecology, "Human Impact on the Environment" is what I always think of as a "backward lesson" in my biology classes.  Throughout the school year, I constantly ask my students to consider how the environment affects a particular process or an anatomical structure, but in this lesson I am asking my students to consider how THEY affect the environment.

The role of the environment as an influence in Natural Selection is a common theme in my class.  We revisit it over and over again throughout the year.  In this ecology topic, the theme is completely flipped.  Now it is time to reverse this common thread and have our students consider how we, the human species, have affected the environment.

Humans have had an impact on this planet for most of human history. Activities such as agriculture, logging, mining, urban development, the burning of fossil fuels, the clear cutting of forests and exponential population growth have no doubt changed the surface of our planet.  Because of these activities, this may very well be the most important unit we teach our students all year long.  The students sitting in our classrooms today are the protectors and caretakers of the Earth of tomorrow.  It is imperative that we give these students the knowledge and the tools they need to be good decision makers of the future.  The fate of our planet is literally in their hands.

It is interesting how a typical high school biology class is a microcosm of our society.  When discussing these issues, the students immediately take sides.  The range of opinions is all over the place, from "protect the Earth at all cost" to "I will always drive this huge pickup truck" to everything in between.

If you are looking for some lively classroom debate and loud arguing, this is the perfect lesson!!  The printable lesson is perfect for traditional classroom settings, and the paperless, digital Google Apps version is perfect for distance learning and 1:1 classrooms. 

Much of the clipart used in this PowerPoint was created by my dear friend, Tracee Orman.  You may know Tracee as the author of tremendously popular Hunger Games lesson plans and activities, but she is also quite accomplished at creating clip art.  You can view all of her clipart HERE.

Have FUN teaching......

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