Lessons

Lesson Plan: Summarizing the impact of disappearing groundwater in four countries

pumpeddry2-california.jpg

Image by Steve Elfers. United States, 2015.

Objective:

Students will be able to identify central ideas of the Pumped Dry project and analyze their development over the course of five articles/videos in order to provide an objective summary of the project.

Warm-up:

According to www.groundwater.org, “Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.”

Consider the following and be prepared to share with a partner, or the class:

  1. Where does groundwater come from?
  2. How might groundwater be used around the world?
  3. Explore www.groundwater.org for support.

Consider the following and discuss:

  1. What are potential impacts of depleting groundwater?
  2. For example, imagine that the water pipes in your school were aquifers. What could happen if water stopped flowing through those pipes? How could that affect the students? How could that affect the building itself?

Introducing the Lesson:

In today’s lesson, you will analyze the project Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater by journalists Ian James of The Desert Sun and Steve Elfers of USA Today. The project analyzes the impact of depleting groundwater on four continents using interviews, research, video and interactive maps. It is broken up into five chapters.

In this lesson, you will also practice identifying the main points of each chapter of Pumped Dry in order to objectively summarize the project.

Consider the following and be prepared to discuss with the class:

  1. What are elements of an objective summary?
  2. Read the following title and description below for the project Pumped Dry: “In places around the world, supplies of groundwater are rapidly vanishing. As aquifers decline and wells begin to go dry, people are being forced to confront a growing crisis.”
  3. Discuss the following:
    • What do you think the project will be about based on this description?
    • Why do you think the authors chose this language to introduce the project?

Introducing Resource 1: "Pumped beyond limits, many U.S. aquifers decline"

Go to the “United States” chapter at http://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/groundwater/

Watch the introductory video and answer the accompanying questions.

As you watch, consider the following:

  1. What main points do the authors track throughout the piece?
  2. How could the video be summarized in a short caption like the one at the start of the project?

Read the text and answer the accompanying questions.

As you watch, consider the following:

  1. What main points do the authors track throughout the piece?
  2. How could the video be summarized in a short caption like the one at the start of the project?

Exploring Pumped Dry reporting on another continent individually, or in small groups:

Go to the interactive and explore the text/media for another continent.

Answer the accompanying questions as you read.

As you explore, consider the following:

  1. What main points do the authors track throughout the piece?
  2. How could the video be summarized in a short caption like the one at the start of the project?

Create a short caption/introductory paragraph for the continent you explored and be prepared to share with the class.

Extension Project 1: Create a short presentation of the continent you explored

Create a 2-3 minute visual presentation of your section. Your presentation should include a summary of the project that highlights the most important points and evidence. Consider the following as you prepare your presentation:

  1. What is the purpose of your presentation? What would you like the class to leave thinking about?
  2. Which factual and anecdotal evidence would you like to use?
  3. How do you plan to incorporate photo/videos/interactive maps into your presentation?

Extension Discussion and Project 2: What should be done in the face of depleting groundwater?

Discuss: Based on your reporting, what have you identified as the best solutions for combatting this problem?

Consider the following quotation from Pumped Dry:

"Jay sometimes wonders if roadside billboards would help increase the sense of urgency. He envisions signs with cross-section drawings of the aquifer 'that show the reservoir declining and force people to admit at least, if we’re not going to act, that it was an informed decision not to act.'"

Create a design for a billboard that informs the public about your solution.

  1. What image do you want to use?
  2. What will be your tagline?

Create a visual presentation of your billboard and be prepared to share it with the class.

Educator Notes: 

The attached lesson plan explores the multimedia project Pumped Dry  also also asks students to practice summary skills. Students discuss how they use water, predict the impacts of a reduced groundwater supply, investigate articles and video reporting the impacts of vanishing groundwater around the world and ultimately use summary to create advocacy campaigns in support of groundwater regulations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.2

Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

Note: In addition to independent investigation of the attached resources, this lesson includes warm-up and reflection exercises that are designed to be facilitated in small groups or by the instructor. However, the student instructions for this lesson can be adapted if students will be exploring these resources independently.

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