Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Airing Our Concerns I Can See Clearly Now
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Learners will have an opportunity to investigate the multi-faceted concern of air pollution. While researching individually, learners will then share findings to broaden their knowledge base and clarify problems for concern. The learners will also analyze perspectives of involved groups who are working to address air pollution. Learners will be involved in a role play to develop a strategy for addressing air quality concerns.  Consequently, the complexity of problems and solutions will be revealed. This lesson will also serve as the first of two parts in planning for a strategy, whether collective or individual, for the common good.


Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • research issues related to air pollution.
  • collect and share key data in response to a research question.
  • compose a report to include research information.
  • collaborate with peers to discuss air quality issues, stating opinions with supporting rationale.
  • identify rights and responsibilities of various groups concerned with air quality standards.


  • Learner copies of Handout 1: Research Questions 
  • Learner copies of Handout 2: Guidelines for Report Writing 
  • Learner copies of Handout 3: Data Collection Sheet
  • Learner copies of Handout 4: Assessment Rubric for a Report
  • Learner copies of Handout 5: Role Play Guidelines
Handout 1
Research Questions
Handout 2
Guidelines for Report Writing
Handout 3
Data Collection Sheet
Handout 4
Assessment Rubric for a Report
Handout 5
Role Play Guidelines

Instructional Procedure(s):

Days One and Two
Anticipatory Set:
Using a clear container with a lid, add different forms of pollutants such as sand/dirt and ashes to represent particulate matter and some forms of cleaning or health and beauty spray to represent gaseous pollutants.  Other substances that compromise air quality may also be added for representation.  Direct the learners to their information page from Lesson One entitled, Common Contaminants Consuming Clean Air, (Attachment Two, Lesson One) and tell them that this clear container and its contents represent air pollution.  Invite learners to share their intellectual and affective responses to the representation.

Take a few moments to have the learners brainstorm the many sources from which air pollution is derived. The answers can be recorded on chart paper, whiteboard or overhead. (Some examples include: volcanoes, construction sites, factories, waste management sites, solvent use, burning, wildfires, roads, agriculture, vehicles, recreations, etc.)  I
f time allows, engage learners in critical thinking about organizing their responses into categories such as “point vs. non-point sources,” “natural vs. human-made,” “mobile vs. area,” etc.

Teacher Note: Point pollution – pollutants are dumped at a single readily recognized place. Non-point pollution – pollutants are carried down stream from the source of the pollution. For example, washing cars, the soap is washed into a water source.

  • Ask learners to share some of their findings from the Lesson One homework Learner/Parent Homework Reflection - Every Breath You Take- (Attachment Three-Lesson One) as a related follow - up to this anticipatory set.

  • Brainstorm vocabulary, questions and the prior knowledge learners have about air pollution. This can be done quickly and orally, without having to record ideas.

  • Give the learners an opportunity to share questions of personal interest, which they would like to investigate. The Research Questions (Attachment One) may be distributed at this time for ideas. However, the learners’ ideas should be honored and encouraged to maximize their ownership in the investigative process.

  • Distribute copies of the Guidelines for Report Writing (Attachment Two), the Data Collection Sheet (Attachment Three), and the rubric for assessing a report Assessment Rubric for a Report (Attachment Four). Teacher Note: See the website, www.ipl.org/div/aplus for more detailed guidelines.  Expectations may be increased or simplified depending on grade level, expectations, or an interdisciplinary approach. It is also optional to collect and share data rather than carry the process to writing a report.

  • Using key words that relate to their chosen research question, have the learners begin their research for information in areas such as the library, the internet, the newspaper, magazines, etc.

  • Announce that the completed report is due at the start of Day Three.

Day Three:

  • Learners will use the knowledge they gained to help them role-play a scenario.Your community is in violation of standards set for emission control (this can be ozone gases or particulate matter). A task force has been assembled to examine the issue of compliance with air quality standards. You will take on a role as a member in the task force.Your opinions will be a reflection of your position in the task force. Ultimately, you and your fellow members of the task force will recommend a plan of action to move toward compliance of the standards.

  • Randomly distribute or allow learners to choose a role card Role Play Guidelines (Attachment Five). Once each learner has read his/her role guidelines, allow a few moments for clarification and discussion among learners. Have learners meet with like roles to share ideas and solidify their perspective.

  • Conduct an open-ended discussion about their rights in the situation and their responsibilities toward solving the dilemma with a solution that meets the needs of the common good (reflective of their respective roles).

  • Then ask whether voluntary measures or regulatory/legal measures should be emphasized as part of the solution and whether transportation of point and non-point sources is the key target for solution initiatives (see right hand box on role play card). Ask members to defend their choices with supporting reasons.

  • At the conclusion of the class period, collect the learners’ completed research/report papers from class periods one and two.


Informal assessment of the Data Collection Sheet (see Handout 3) and an assessment of the research paper based on the Assessment Rubric for a Report (Handout 4).

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Invite a local representative of the Environmental Protection Agency or  Department of Environmental Quality to speak to your learners about standards, monitoring and/or enforcement of standards. This insight can enhance the learner research as well as assist in a role play more accurately reflective of actual events.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Lisa Ludwig
Cedar Springs Public Schools
Cedar Springs Middle School
Cedar Springs, MI 49319


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Research Questions

  1. How do volcanoes contribute to air pollution?
  2. What was the impact upon air quality following the September 11, 2001 disaster in New York City?
  3. What are some things being done to control pollution emissions?
  4. What is the most significant factor in air pollution and what is being done to lessen its impact?
  5. Which countries have the toughest emission standards?
  6. What is the history of air pollution?
  7. What is acid rain and how does it contribute to air pollution?
  8. Compare/contrast the role of the state governments to the federal government in establishing and enforcing air pollution standards?
  9. Which countries release the most pollutants?
  10. How does climate and wind factor into the issue of air pollution?
  11. What is the AQI (Air Quality Index) and how is it used in monitoring air pollution?
  12. What is global warming and its role in air quality?
  13. Investigate the Montreal Protocol and its role in alleviating the impact of air pollution.
  14. What happens when a state fails to meet air quality standards?
  15. What are some health consequences of increasing air pollution?
  16. Which continent is the most significant cause of air pollution and why?
  17. What is the latest legislation impacting air quality?
  18. What is smog?  What is haze?  What are their roles in air pollution?
  19. Which air pollution standards are recognized by the international community?
  20. How is air quality standards set, monitored and enforced?

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Guidelines for Report Writing

Find Your Focus

  • An aspect of the issue or a perspective on which to focus your research paper
  • Find an interesting or major theme which will become your thesis statement

Gathering Information/Note Taking

  • Write down ONLY information that clarifies and supports your focus

Organize Information

  • Who, what, when, where, why and how


  • Statement of Problem/Thesis Statement
  • Body (History of Problem, Extent of Issue, Impact and Possible Solutions)


  • Eliminate irrelevant information
  • Research additional information for gaps/missing supporting detail
  • Have paper critiqued for:
    1. spelling
    2. punctuation
    3. capitalization
    4. word choice
    5. sentence structure


Handout 3Print Handout 3

Data Collection Sheet

Research Questions:




Information Collected to Address Question:

Reactions, Thoughts and/or Additional Questions







Research Sites:

Handout 4Print Handout 4

Assessment Rubric for a Report








contains many interesting and relevant key facts and details

contains sufficient facts and details to complete the assignment

Important facts and details are missing; much information is irrelevant



uses a range of sources (six or more); correctly documents sources

uses four relevant sources; documents sources

relies on one or two sources; sources not documented


includes an introduction, body and conclusion; paragraphs logically sequences; effective transitions used; strong introduction and conclusion

contains introduction; paragraphs are adequately developed; but transitions are not clear; introduction and conclusion are adequate

weak organization; facts and details are stated without clear transitions; introduction and conclusion are inadequate or missing


flawless punctuation and spelling; varied and interesting sentence structure

 few spelling and punctuation errors; sentence structure correctly used

many spelling and punctuation errors; many sentence fragments and/or run-ons



Handout 5Print Handout 5

Role Play Guidelines






Philanthropy Framework:

Submit a Comment

Unit Contents:

Overview:Our Air: The Quest for Quality Summary


Clean Air Our Health Matters
Airing Our Concerns I Can See Clearly Now
Concern + Action = Clean Air Solutions

All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.