For Educators: Environmental Justice Movement

Activity 1: Pollution: Why Should I Care About It?


Documents Needed:

Materials Needed:

Large sheets of easel pad paper and markers
Computer with Internet access and LCD projector

Video Segments:

Teacher Tip


Distribute to each student a copy of the KWL worksheet and the introductory essay.

Reading and Analyzing Information: Share with the students the introductory essay about Environmental Justice. Allow the students a few minutes to read the essay and respond to the questions in column one and column two of the chart.

Discussion: Lead the students in a whole class discussion about what they learned from the essay. Using large sheets of easel pad paper, record the students’ responses.

Video Segments: From the list below, select 1-2 video segments depicting first person interpretation and stories about pollution in their communities and how it impacts their daily life. It is recommended that you review the video segments first to determine which ones are most appropriate for viewing with your students.

Show the students the video segments. Following the viewing, allow the students time to respond again to the questions in column one and column two of the KWL chart.

Contamination and a Crusade in Tennessee: A Well of Pain
A story about the aftermath of one family’s discovery that they were not properly warned about toxic waste at a nearby landfill which polluted their well and damaged the soil on their family farm. (7:03 minutes)

Burning the Future: Coalmining in Appalachia West Virginia
An excerpt from the documentary about Bob White, West Virginia and the impact of coal mining on communities in this region of the country. Maria Gunnoe, the winner of the Goldman Prize for North America, is a longtime resident of Bob White and the narrator telling the story of the environmental devastation of mountain removal and mining. (5:30 minutes)

Laid to Waste: Chester, PA
This town in southeastern Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, is the site of the fourth largest waste dumping site in the country. (8:58 minutes)

South Harbor Area, Los Angeles, CA
This short film documents the heaviest concentration in California of oil refineries, major ports, major freeways, heavy diesel trucking, and oil drilling. Residents of this largely Latino community share the environmental effects on their daily lives and their fight for clean air. (12:33 minutes)

Again, in a whole class discussion, ask the students to share what additional information they learned from the videos about environmental issues. Using the large sheets of easel pad paper, record the students' responses. Display the responses in the classroom for reference as the students continue to explore answers to questions generated during the discussion.

Extended Activity

To introduce the students to the legislative impact of CBC on environmental issues, view the Avoice webcast: Leadership and the Environmental Justice.

additional information and links.