Heather Young

Lane Community College

English as a Second Language

Class: ESL Level 5 Combined Skills PM Class Meets twice weekly for a total of 5 hrs., 6:30-8:50 PM Low-Advanced students SPL 5-8+

Civics Competency Area: #43 Government & Law: Environment

Civic Objective:

Identify environmental problems and recognize appropriate steps for resolution.

Civic Language and Literacy Objectives:

* #2 Identify environmental problems when prompted by a visual, reading material and discussion group.

* #3 Identify addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and/or Web pages of community organizations concerned with environmental issues (e.g., local recycling).

* #7 Identify vocabulary to describe environmental problems.

* #8 Identify vocabulary for the actions people can take to alleviate environmental problems

Other Language and Literacy Objectives:

* Map-reading

* Discussion of a topic of interest in small groups

* Identification of a problem and expression of a complaint

* Paragraph writing

* Listening and note-taking


* Lane County maps from Lane County Visitor’s Association & questions

* Lane County Parks Brochure & questions

* Video: In These Ancient Trees. Published by the National Wildlife Federation, Windstar Foundation,1991

* Oregon Heritage Forests brochure (published by nonprofit agency: information at oregonheritageforests.org) & Jigsaw questions


In Fall 2006, Lane decided to use the same Civic objective for each of the three evening “EL Civics classes” (each class had different language and literacy objectives). This was an experiment that we found successful for several reasons. It allowed for greater sharing of resources, more collaboration between teachers on planning and implementation, and several opportunities for inter-class activities. Our Environment curriculum built upon prior work done by Kate Gessert (Level 6 teacher) in Winter 2006 (her prior report is attached for background). We focused on two main environmental themes over the term: forest ecology and global warming. This report will address the first part of the unit in Level 5. It was interspersed with the other class content over the first half of the term. It ended with an optional Saturday field trip to an old-growth forest known as the “Grandmother’s Grove”, where the Level 6 students acted as guides for the Level 5 students.


Day 1:

* We began our unit by introducing the concept of “the environment” relating to the natural world and developing a working definition: "the natural world that surrounds us: air, water, land, plants, and animals."

* In small groups, students discuss: What are good and bad things about our local natural environment?

* Ss make lists of what they like about the local environment. Groups share with the class; each student talks.

* Blue book writing: students freewrite about what they think the good and bad parts of the natural environment are.

Day 2:

* As a whole class, students brainstormed good/bad things about the natural environment in their home country; teacher made a list on the board. Compare/contrast with lists generated by groups.

* Discuss: What is our county? What is special about it?

* Pairwork: Students worked with a partner to interpret oversized Lane County maps (obtained through the Visitor’s Association). Students answered written questions based upon map reading and natural places of interest in the county. Several county parks were pointed out.

Day 3:

* Whole class discussion: during the last class we talked about parks/green space in our natural environment. What do you like to do there?

* Small group discussion: Talk about ways to use parks/green space and why it is important to have undeveloped green/open space.

* Groups wrote their results on big paper (see attachment).

Day 4:

* Lane County Parks brochure Reading/Writing activity

* As a group, we looked at the brochure and discussed finding information by means of section headings and skimming text.

* Students worked in pairs to answer questions about Lane County parks based on the brochure, including charts (describing available facilities in different parks).

* Blue book writing: Students selected one park or natural place they would like to visit (from the brochure or another in Oregon) and what they would like to do there in the future.

* Students developed a paragraph from their freewriting that included a topic sentence, 3-5 details and a conclusion sentence.

Day 5:

* Watched segments of “In These Ancient Trees” video

* Discussed differences between a complex forest ecosystem and what happens with reforestation (monoculture)

* Stopped for discussion questions frequently

* Homework: students wrote about the video and what they learned and remembered from it.

Day 6:

* Reading brochure jigsaw: Oregon Heritage Forests

* Students counted off into 4 groups. Each group read 1 section, discussed, and answered comprehension questions on their part.

* Students took down contact information about the agency.

* Students got into new, mixed groups and each reported on their section as the “expert” so all questions were answered. Students took notes on others’ information while the experts were talking.

* Turned in questions as reading/listening/writing assessment.

Optional Field Trip:

* We organized a carpool for students who wanted to go (a little over half of the class)

* Students visited the “Grandmother’s Grove”, a small, old-growth BLM-managed forest area near Lorane, OR (about 20 miles from Eugene) on a Saturday afternoon.

* We assembled at the country home of Kate Gessert, the Level 6 teacher, whose students acted as the guides for our class. They had already marked “sites of interest” in the grove and rehearsed their scripts earlier that day. They led us through the grove, explaining forest ecology (and vocabulary) and pointing out important features such as “nurse logs”.

* We also stopped to observe on the edge of a clearcut and a second-growth stand on the way to the Grandmother’s Grove.

* This special site may be scheduled for logging soon, but Kate Gessert is working on trying to preserve it as an educational “outdoor classroom”.

* The students who attended had a wonderful time.

Successes and Challenges:

* Students responded very favorably over all to this unit, commenting that they especially enjoyed the video and discussions.

* The responses that they developed in small groups about green space were poetic, and demonstrated that they had thought about the value of the natural environment and were already using resources such as county parks, often with their families.

* The reading of authentic materials such as brochures and maps was challenging for some students


Green Space

In These Ancient Trees

Lane County Parks Brochure

Map of Lane County Questions

Oregon Heritage Forests

Environmental Civics

Grandmother's Grove


Heather Young

English as a Second Language Program

Lane Community College