CO #43--Government and the Law--Environment

Amy Roberts

Lane Community College



Competency Area:  Government and Law- Environment

Civic Objective:  Identify environmental problems and recognize appropriate steps for


Language and Literacy Objective: Identify vocabulary to describe environmental




Class size: around 18 (12-14 consistently)

Class level: Level 4; low intermediate, combined skills


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.


My class focused on global warming.  This topic was interspersed with our daily grammar objectives so it was not the main part of our class, but rather a supplement.  There are two main activities that I will share each taking place on two different nights.


First Activity: 

Our first activity was a simple vocabulary lesson.  To open the class, I had the student brainstorm differences between the local environment and their home environment.  I allowed them to think of physical, environmental, and social differences to begin with.  After some brainstorming, I directed them to think more specifically about the natural environment.  We discussed differences, what they use the natural environment for, and any environmental problems or issues they could think of.  Next, I handed them a matching exercise.  I asked them to try to match the new vocabulary terms with the correct definition (see handout #1)


Second Activity:

Our three Civics classes watched a small portion of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” as a large group.  Another instructor had created a handout (see handout #2) for us to use after the viewing in our own classes.  The video was a bit difficult to understand because of some specific and technological vocabulary, however the visuals and what they did understand seemed to make a big impact.  The video caught their attention and interest, so the discussion afterwards was fun. 


Third Activity:

Our second activity was a computer research activity.  After a few discussions about the environment, environmental problems and learning some specific vocabulary, I wanted to create an assignment where they would read and search for some solutions.  I made this a directed assignment: Before the students tried, I had typed in key words into so that I would know the website results.  I made sure all of the websites would be “usable” for my students: I did not want scientific research that they would not be able to understand.  Rather, I wanted them to see websites with information easily presented and that they could understand.  I gave each group a term to type into and instructed them to click on the first website.  After the students had gotten to their specific website, I gave them a handout (see handout #3).  Each person in each group had a specific task: type, write, read/scan (2 people).  Each group was responsible for finding specific information that they would share with the class.

*Before students actually got on the computes, I made sure each group had at least one person who knew how to navigate the Internet and where to type in information.


What worked well:

It was fun to get the students on the Internet.  They found the websites easily and learned a few things about navigating around the Internet.  They were able to practice reading, scanning for specific information, typing, and communication.  Although each person had a task to do within the group, they all worked together trying to locate the information.  The websites were easy to understand–most were bulleted lists of ways to improve the environment or ways to use fewer resources. 


What was difficult:

As in each class, the differing levels of computer skills, as well as English and literacy skills, made computer searches difficult.  This final exercise was meant to be more note taking rather than copying.  Most students ended up coping entire sentences from the Internet, which was time consuming and difficult.  If I had the time, I would have liked to have a small lesson on note taking or at least writing only the first few words. 


Overall, I enjoyed having the students use the Internet, retrieve information, and teach the class what the learned. 

Environmental Vocabulary
Video Questions
Internet Search