ADDING TO ITEM 43 OF Pre-approved Civics Objectives:
                   GOVERNMENT AND LAW: ENVIRONMENT

                                         

Kate Rogers Gessert, Lane Community College
    
        This term I've been working with a small piece of the proposed California curriculum, but I think it's a crucial piece. On page 18 of Pre-approved Civics Objectives is a competency area called Item 43, Government and Law - Environment. Its civics objectives are to identify environmental problems and recognize appropriate steps for resolution. Suggested Language/Literacy objectives include, in brief, interviewing community members to find out about key environmental issues, reading and learning vocabulary about environmental problems and solutions, and identifying community environmental organizations and attending a meeting.

        When I first read Item 43, it seemed to me to be a cursory and perhaps ineffective way to handle what I believe to be the most important realm in which immigrants need orientation: caring for the environment in their new home.
      Various countries have various sizes of ecological footprints, and that of the U.S. is the biggest in the world. If everyone on earth had the same average lifestyle as we do, it would take 6 1/2 earths, according to some estimates, to produce everyone's resources and absorb everyone's wastes. All of us who live in the U.S. need to work together to make our ecological footprint shrink toward what our planet can handle.
   Immigrants have left countries with smaller ecological footprints and come to this country, hoping to achieve a lifestyle like that of people who are already here. Immigrants are often unaware of ecological problems in the U.S. This country may seem more ecologically clean to them than the places they left. The natural environment here may be very different from where immigrants have lived before, and it may be difficult for them to feel connected with this new place and to feel at home and to feel like protecting it. I think jumping straight into the objectives listed in Item 43 might cause a good many students to wonder, "Why should this be important to me?"
    So this term, I asked my Level 5 students to help me figure out answers to this question: what can immigrants learn that will make them want to take care of the environment in their new home? These activities would precede the objectives in Item 43, and would hopefully make students ready to proceed enthusiastically with the Item 43 objectives.
      We've just finished four weeks of environmental study and a field trip, based on a combination of student suggestions and my own hunches. I surveyed the students earlier this week to find out their responses. The class survey is attached. In my civics/combined skills classes I usually choose the first civics topic myself and let students choose the other two, and I was worried that because my topic had taken so much of the term and they were still waiting for the other two topics, some students at least might be feeling impatient and bored. But I was impressed by their reactions to what we had studied.      

 

 


CLASS SURVEY
 LEARNING ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

  For the past few weeks, we have been studying the environment. Please answer the questions below about what seemed helpful to you and what didn't. (16 respondents)

1. Since we learned about the environment in class, I want to help protect the environment
   a. more than I did before  13      "I wonder how I can help. I'm so little,
     b. less  0                                   when inside I have an enormous feeling
     c. the same     2                            building, my voice lost on the wilderness."
2. Compared to what I understood before this class, now I understand environmental problems and solutions
       a. better  15
   b. worse  0
     c. the same  1
3. Compared to how I knew before this class, now I know

        a. more  15
     b. less  0
      c. the same  1
about nature and the environment in Oregon.
In the future (not in this class)
4. I would like to learn about the environment
        a. more  12
     b. I've already learned enough.  3         Maybe 1
5. I want to learn more about local environmental groups.
     a. Yes.  15
     b. No.  0       Maybe 1
6. I want to learn more about things I can do in my daily life that protect the environment.
     a. Yes.  15
     b. No.  I don't know. 1

Please grade the activities we did in class and for homework. Give each activity a
v, v+, v-, or - (- means you weren't here or didn't do the activity.)

Note: Some students didn't answer these detailed questions, or answered only a few.
       a. talking in small groups about good and bad aspects to the environment here and in your home country  v6  v+7
b. talking about what immigrants could learn that would help them want to take care of the environment in their new home  v6  v+7
       c. writing about what you think is the world's most important environmental             problem or solution  v-2  v4  v+4
       d. studying environmental vocabulary in small groups  v7  v+5
   e. reading about living systems theory  v-1  v4  v+4
    f. playing an ecosystem web game with string    v7  v+1  v++1
   g. reading a summary of the environmental state of the world  v-1  v5  v+3  v++1
        h. learning about the ecological footprints of various countries  v4  v+6  v++1
        i. collecting and reading environmental news  v6  v+4
   j. in small groups, doing a conversation exercise called Widening Circles. You chose a problem and discussed it from your own point from view, from the point of view of someone with the opposite opinion, and from the point of view of a non-human being.
v3  v+5  v++2
       k. learning about local Willamette Valley nature through maps, slides, plant samples, and a vocabulary list  v-1  v2  v+6  v++1
l. going on a field trip to wetlands, old-growth forest, oak woodland, and
young Douglas fir forest. v1  v+4 (Only 8 students could come on this weekend field trip.)
   
General comments:
What was most interesting about what we did? Everything 4.    World environment.
Environmental problems and solutions.  Talking about things in danger.   Seeing nature.
Knowing little changes in the environment could affect many plants and animals hugely.
"Widening Circles": 2 It was very hard to speak during 3 minutes but very interesting to be deeply with the subject.
What was boring?  Nothing - everything was interesting. 9
I can't remember, but I don't like politics.         Reading about living systems theory.
What did you want to learn that we didn't learn? More about nature, plants and animals. 4  About Greenpeace.  More deeply about ecological problems.  About ecosystems.
I learned everything I wanted. 2  I would like to learn how to really protect the environment, nature, the importance of protecting endangered animals. 
I learned about environmental problems and how they affect our lives.
I learned to love nature and the environment. This is very important for people's lives.
I feel bad about my participation in not taking care of the environment.
What are other things immigrants could learn about the environment in their new home that would help them want to take care of it? Learn about garden care, more information about the environment in our community. I would like to read magazines about environmental problems. How to help our community. Make immigrants know how important the ecosystem is for them. A lot of immigrants don't know about the environment. They need to learn about the environment and how to take care of it better.

Sources: "Widening Circles," an exercise from Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy, website joannnamacy.net. In Portland, workshops in Macy's work in despair, empowerment, and whole earth perspectives are held by Pam Wood, pamarama2@yahoo.com.
Ecological footprint information is from www.myfootprint.org

                                        WHAT'S NEXT

    I'm especially delighted that the further learning the students suggest for themselves and other immigrants turns out to include many of the objectives in Item 43 of  I believe that once students are oriented and motivated, they are ready to achieve those objectives.

        About half of the students in my class this term will be with me in spring term as well, because L.C.C.'s Level 5 Combined Skills is a two-term class. We will begin spring term with Item 43 objectives, and I hope we will also create an Earth Day event for the rest of the ESL evening program, with Level 5 students helping to decide and create what other students will learn from, and also serving as interpreters for students with less English. The other half of the students in my spring term class will not have done this term's preparation for Item 43 objectives, so it will be interesting to compare their responses.
   I invite you to participate in further exploration of this work. I think together we can come up with some great additional objectives and add them to the
Pre-approved Civics Objectives to strengthen this crucial area of immigrant civics learning. I have many materials and ideas I would be happy to share with you, and I look forward to exchanging ideas. I will be writing a civics list-serve report soon, and many of my class handouts will be part of the report.

                                                Kate Rogers Gessert
                                                     part-time instructor
                                                    Lane Community College
                                                  katerg@igc.org
                                                  541-935-8843


       VOCABULARY ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

        In class, we'll be using the word environment to mean "the natural world that surrounds us: air, water, land, plants, and animals." For example, Pollution harms the environment. This word can also mean social surroundings, for example, A happy home environment is important for children.
Here are words often used in discussions about the natural environment:

nature, natural
resource
sustainable, sustain
renewable, renew
recycle, recycling
conservation, conserve
protection, protect
interdependence
industry, industrial
technology
pollution, pollute
energy
global warming
greenhouse gases
ozone layer
Kyoto Treaty
endangered species
extinct

Talk with other people in your group and make sure everybody understands these words. What other words can you think of?













 

 

 

 


          GOOD AND BAD THINGS ABOUT THE NATURAL ENVIRONMEN

 [STUDENT BRAINSTORMING LISTS COMPILED]
                               EUGENE, OREGON, U.S.A.


  GOOD                                                    BAD

*water that is good for drinking                             *too much rain
and for nature                                            *cold and cloudy half the year
*no snow
*not too cold                                    
*organic foods                                          *nurseries that use pesticides
*forest conservation                                      *lumber mills
*controls on cutting Christmas trees                       *cutting forests
*big forests
*reforestation
*wetlands
*natural reservations (U.S.)
*people try to protect the environment           *a lot of pollution and no regulations
more than in Latin countries                              *air pollution
*very clean                                                       *some cars with too much smoke         
                                                                *sound pollution (U.S.)
                                                        *selling endangered animals like
                                                                  birds and monkeys                             *hunting and fishing regulations                                *hunting
*a lot of animals                                               *hunting and fishing just for fun
*parks and recreation                                  *smoking and drinking in parks
*a lot of places to hike

                       HOMETOWNS AND COUNTRIES

            GOOD                                                    BAD

*water protection (Uzbekistan)                               *not enough water (Mexico, El                                                                             Salvador, Peru)
*sunny warm weather (Mexico)                           *not enough clean water (Mexico, El     *humid, warm, and sunny (Peru)                          Salvador, Peru)
*In El Salvador it's so hot, but it's nice
to go to the beach every day of the year              *dirty (Mexico, El Salvador, Peru)
*forest protection (Mexico, Peru)                     *a lot of pollution (Mexico)
                                                            *no laws against car pollution (Peru.
                                                             Uzbekistan)
*many regulations about water, enengy, cars...             *a lot of laws but still a lot of               (France)                                                          pollution (France)
                THE WORLD IS ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER
             adapted from an article in The Independent, United Kingdom

        Planet Earth stands on the brink of disaster. People can no longer take it for granted that their children and grandchildren will survive in the environmentally damaged world of the 21st century. This is the opinion of 1,300 leading scientists from 95 countries who published Millenium Ecosystem Assessment on March 31, 2005.

   The scientists found that two-thirds of the ecosystems they studied have been badly damaged by humans during the past 50 years. The dryland regions of the world, 41 percent of the earth's land, have been especially badly hurt. This is where human population has grown most quickly during the 1990's.


        Slow damage is one thing, but the report also points out real possibilities of sudden collapse. It lists half a dozen possible "tipping points" that could suddenly change things for the worse, with little hope of improvement on a human timescale. These tipping points include new diseases, algae growth, coral reef death, disappearing fish populations, and climate change.
   
        The scientists warn that unless the people of the world act quickly, the future looks bad for the next generation. We can repair ecosystems over the next 50 years, but we will have to make big changes in the way we live.

    Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems faster and more widely than at any time in human history. They have done this mostly to meet growing needs for food, water, wood, and fiber.  Between 1960 and 2000, the world's population grew from three billion to six billion. The global economy grew six times  as big, and the production of food and supply of drinking water more than doubled. Nearly one third of all land is now used for growing crops. More land has been changed to cropland since 1945 than in during all of the 18th and 19th centuries.

       The amount of water taken from rivers and lakes for factories and farms has doubled since 1960. The amount of fertilizers released into the environment has also doubled, cauising huge algae growth in fresh water and oceans. This is one of the "tipping points" that can suddenly destroy whole ecosystems.

         The danger is not of global environmental collapse but many local and regional collapses in ecosystems. This is already happening: fish populations disappearing,
dead areas in the oceans, plants and animals becoming extinct, soil damage that makes it hard to grow crops.

   Many plant and animal species have become extinct, with 10 to 30 percent that may soon become extinct. Non-native species are moving into many new parts of the world, often with very bad results. 

    One third of the world's people, many of them very poor people, live in the drylands. But only 8 percent of the world's renewable water is there, and the population in these places is growing fastest.

        And human population is expected to grow by another 50 percent.

If nature is thought of as free and endless, people will keep using too much until it is all gone. Costs to nature must become part of all economic decisions. Many countries have policies that encourage too much use of oil and gas, too much fertilizer for farms, too much harvest of fish. This must end. And the world's resources must be shared more fairly with everybody.

brink                                       edge
take it for granted                 know it will be true
ecosystem                           a living system of plants, animals, and the place                                                       where they live
damage                           hurt
population                          number of individuals living in an area
collapse                         falling apart
timescale                          way of measuring time
double                                     become twice as much
fiber                                       plants used for cloth, rope, etc.
crops                                  plants people grow for their use
released                                let out
extinct                          not present in the world any more
policies                               official plans for doing things
resources                                things we get from nature, such as trees, water,                                                        oil...










  TRUE/FALSE QUESTIONS: Circle T or F.


1. The people who wrote the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment are leading scientists of                the world.    T      F

2. Jungles are the areas of the earth that have been most badly hurt by humans. 
                  T     F

3. One "tipping point" is the death of coral reefs.   T     F

4. Between 1900 and 2000, the world's population grew from three billion to six billion.                            T    F

5.  There is more water now in lakes and rivers than there was in 1960.  T    F  

6. The biggest danger is global collapse of the environment.   T    F  

7. Up to 30 percent of plant and aniimal species may soon become extinct.   T    F

8.  One third of the world's people live in the drylands and have less than one tenth of                renewable water supplies.   T    F

9.  Costs to the U.S.A. must become part of all world economic decisions.   T    F  

THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY

   The Willamette Valley runs through much of Oregon, from the Columbia River in the north to Roseburg in the south. It is nestled between the Coast Range to the west and the Cascade Range to the east. Compared to the mountains that surround it, it has less rain and snow - an average of 50 inches a year - and warmer temperatures. Its mild temperatures and good soils make it one of the best farming areas in Oregon.


        The land in the Willamette Valley is mostly prairies, floodplains, and rolling hills. When the Calapuya Indians lived in the valley, they burned it every year to make it easier to gather food plants  and hunt animals. The valley was wetlands and big open meadows with oaks growing here and there, because oaks are resistant to fire. Douglas firs and other evergreen trees grew in the mountains away from the fires.

  After settlers came here from farther east in the U.S., in the 19th century, most of the Calapuya Indians died from diseases that were new to them, The Calapuya who survived were shut into crowded areas where more of them died. The settlers didn't burn the valley. They started farming, and they drained most of the wetlands.

   Now the Willamette Valley is mostly cities, towns, and farms, with small wetlands and oak forests. Douglas firs often grow in the valley now, too.

nestled                               kept safely, as in a nest 
prairie                               wide grassy land, mostly flat
floodplain                                 area with good soil, where a river sometimes floods
wetland                              land that is under water at least part of the year
resistant to                          not harmed by
evergreen                                  green all year
settler                           someone who moves to live on land where there are                                                       few people
drain                                 remove the water
                  

  OREGON NATURE VOCABULARY
       
[to accompany slide show and plant and animal samples brought to class]

Willamette Valley
valley
butte
river
ferry boat

Oregon Coast
Coast Range
mountain range
bay
headland
cliff
island
wave
sand dune
tide
tide pool
sea star

Cascade Mountains
Three Sisters

volcano
lava   volcanic rock
Three FingerJack
mountain meadow
stream
wildflower
Indian paintbrush
lake
lodgepole pine
camp/go camping
tent
snowstorm    snow flurry





Eastern Oregon
ponderosa pine
bark
Metolius River
salmon
floating island
merganser ducks
Wizard Falls

Harney County
Malheur Wildlife Refuge
canal
trumpeter swan
nest (noun, verb)
cattle
hot spring

Back in the Willamette Valley
native plants
Oregon oak
lichen
Douglas fir
big-leaf maple
hillside
meadow
camas lily
moss
shooting star
meadow foam
Oregon iris

Other Plants and Animals
sword fern
Oregon grape
salal
Western red cedar
Western hemlock
rough-skinned newt
banana slug



      

 

 

 

                       
ENVIRONMENTAL TOPICS

2/8 1. local environment: where we are - valley with two mountain ranges: rain, hot/cold, smoke, good growing climate
wetlands
oak woodlands
young fir forests
old growth forests
coast and alpine
nature slide show
Mary?

2/6 2. News: what's in newspaper and Internet?
Kulongoski and cars
mayors and Kyoto
city sustainability committee
LCC - Jennifer?
birds on coast
wetlands reprieve
grandmothers
Good Earth home show

* 1/30 3. exercise: everything interdependent 45 minutes
teaching from Joanna: systems theory essay to read and answer comprehension questions

2/6 4. exercise: talk about an environmental problem from four points of view 1 hour

* 2/1 5. global environment: reading
transparency of population and resource use
myfootprint.org
Material World book

6. local groups

2/12 field trip





            
ENVIRONMENTAL CIVICS

                    Kate Rogers Gessert, E.S.L. Department
      
        I teach upper-level English as a Second Language with a federal grant to teach immigrants civics as they learn English.  This term  we've been working with a civics curriculum proposed by California, which Oregon may adopt. One competency area in this curriculum is called "Government and Law - Environment." Its civics objectives are to identify environmental problems and recognize appropriate steps for resolution. Suggested Language/Literacy objectives include, in brief, interviewing community members to find out about key environmental issues, reading and learning vocabulary about environmental problems and solutions, and identifying community environmental organizations and attending a meeting.
       When I first read "Government and Law - Environment," it seemed to me to be a cursory and perhaps ineffective way to handle what I believe to be the most important realm in which immigrants need orientation: caring for the environment in their new home.

        Various countries have various sizes of ecological footprints, and that of the U.S. is the biggest in the world. If everyone on earth had the same average lifestyle as we do, it would take 6 1/2 earths, according to some estimates, to produce everyone's resources and absorb everyone's wastes. All of us who live in the U.S. need to work together to make our ecological footprint shrink toward what our planet can handle.
   Immigrants have left countries with smaller ecological footprints and come to this country, hoping to achieve a lifestyle like that of people who are already here. Immigrants are often unaware of ecological problems in the U.S. This country may seem more ecologically clean to them than the places they left. The natural environment here may be very different from where they have lived before, and it may be difficult for them to feel connected with this new place and to feel at home and to feel like protecting it. I think jumping straight into the objectives listed in the California civics curriculum might cause a good many students to wonder, "Why should this be important to me?"
So this term, I asked my students to help me figure out answers to this question: what can immigrants learn that will make them want to take care of the environment in their new home? These activities would precede the Language/Literacy objectives above, and would hopefully make students ready to proceed enthusiastically with those objectives once they got to them.
We did four weeks of environmental study and a field trip to the West Eugene Wetlands and an old-growth forest. Curriculum was based on a combination of student suggestions and my own hunches. The students are currently writing letters of support for a nomination of the
old-growth forest we visited as a B.L.M. Environmental Education Area.
    I surveyed the students earlier this term to find out their responses to the environmental curriculum . The class survey is attached. In my civics/combined skills classes I usually choose the first civics topic myself and let students choose the other two, and I was worried that because the environment had taken so much of the term and they were still waiting for the two topics they  had chosen, some students at least might be feeling impatient and bored. But I was impressed by their reactions to what we had studied.    
                                        CLASS SURVEY
                    LEARNING ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

  For the past few weeks, we have been studying the environment. Please answer the questions below about what seemed helpful to you and what didn't. (16 respondents)

1. Since we learned about the environment in class, I want to help protect the environment
   a. more than I did before  13      "I wonder how I can help. I'm so little,
     b. less  0                                   when inside I have an enormous feeling
     c. the same     2                            building, my voice lost on the wilderness."
2. Compared to what I understood before this class, now I understand environmental problems and solutions
       a. better  15
   b. worse  0
     c. the same  1
3. Compared to how I knew before this class, now I know
   a. more  15
     b. less  0
      c. the same  1
about nature and the environment in Oregon.
In the future (not in this class)
4. I would like to learn about the environment
        a. more  12
     b. I've already learned enough.  3         Maybe 1
5. I want to learn more about local environmental groups.
     a. Yes.  15
     b. No.  0       Maybe 1
6. I want to learn more about things I can do in my daily life that protect the environment.
     a. Yes.  15
     b. No.  I don't know. 1

Please grade the activities we did in class and for homework. Give each activity a
v, v+, v-, or - (- means you weren't here or didn't do the activity.)

Note: Some students didn't answer these detailed questions, or answered only a few.
       a. talking in small groups about good and bad aspects to the environment here and in your home country  v6  v+7
b. talking about what immigrants could learn that would help them want to take care of the environment in their new home  v6  v+7
       c. writing about what you think is the world's most important environmental             problem or solution  v-2  v4  v+4

        d. studying environmental vocabulary in small groups  v7  v+5
   e. reading about living systems theory  v-1  v4  v+4
    f. playing an ecosystem web game with string    v7  v+1  v++1
   g. reading a summary of the environmental state of the world  v-1  v5  v+3  v++1
        h. learning about the ecological footprints of various countries  v4  v+6  v++1
        i. collecting and reading environmental news  v6  v+4
   j. in small groups, doing a conversation exercise called Widening Circles. You chose a problem and discussed it from your own point from view, from the point of view of someone with the opposite opinion, and from the point of view of a non-human being.
v3  v+5  v++2
       k. learning about local Willamette Valley nature through maps, slides, plant samples, and a vocabulary list  v-1  v2  v+6  v++1
l. going on a field trip to wetlands, old-growth forest, oak woodland, and
young Douglas fir forest. v1  v+4 (Only 8 students could come on this weekend field trip.)
   

General comments:

What was most interesting about what we did? Everything 4.    World environment.
Environmental problems and solutions.  Talking about things in danger.   Seeing nature.
Knowing little changes in the environment could affect many plants and animals hugely.
"Widening Circles": 2 It was very hard to speak during 3 minutes but very interesting to be deeply with the subject.
What was boring?  Nothing - everything was interesting. 9
I can't remember, but I don't like politics.         Reading about living systems theory.
What did you want to learn that we didn't learn? More about nature, plants and animals. 4  About Greenpeace.  More deeply about ecological problems.  About ecosystems.
I learned everything I wanted. 2  I would like to learn how to really protect the environment, nature, the importance of protecting endangered animals. 
I learned about environmental problems and how they affect our lives.
I learned to love nature and the environment. This is very important for people's lives.
I feel bad about my participation in not taking care of the environment.
What are other things immigrants could learn about the environment in their new home that would help them want to take care of it? Learn about garden care, more information about the environment in our community. I would like to read magazines about environmental problems. How to help our community. Make immigrants know how important the ecosystem is for them. A lot of immigrants don't know about the environment. They need to learn about the environment and how to take care of it better.

Sources: "Widening Circles," an exercise from Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy, website joannnamacy.net. In Portland, workshops in Macy's work in despair, empowerment, and whole earth perspectives are held by Pam Wood, pamarama2@yahoo.com.
Ecological footprint information is from www.myfootprint.org

                                         SPRING TERM

   I'm especially delighted that the further learning the students suggest for themselves and other immigrants turns out to include many of the objectives listed in the California curriculum. I believe that once students are oriented and motivated, they are ready to achieve those objectives.
       About half of the students in my class this term will be with me in spring term as well, because L.C.C.'s Level 5 Combined Skills is a two-term class. We will begin spring term with the "Goverment and Law - Environment" curriculum objectives, and I hope we will also create an Earth Day event for the rest of the ESL evening program, with Level 5 students helping to decide and create what other students will learn from, and serving as interpreters for students with less English. The other half of the students in my spring term class will not have done this term's environmental study, so it will be interesting to compare their responses.
      We will have completed this work by the time of the in-service, so I'll know more by then.
     

                                                        Kate Rogers Gessert
                                                     katerg@igc.org
                                                  541-935-8843