Lesson Plan: Social Studies
Student Resource: "Earthkeeper
Hero: Chico Mendes" by Jeff Trussell
Media Type: Biographical Essay
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:
- Explain how the health of the environment is fragile and
depends on the contribution of every individual.
- Describe the importance of acting as positive role models
for others, and especially those younger than them, as a
developmental task leading to adulthood.
- Identify ways students can become health advocates for
the good of the environment.
Introducing the Lesson
Have one volunteer explain or demonstrate the domino effect.
Discuss with the class how this domino effect applies to the
actions of people and groups. (One seemingly unrelated action
leads to a whole chain of events, often unwanted.) Observe
that one area in which the domino effect is especially visible
is the health of the environment. Elicit an example (e.g.,
an oil spill in the ocean pollutes the water, which decimates
the numbers of specific sea animals, which in turn upsets
the entire balance of nature).
Direct students to the Web page, or hand out printed copies
of the biographical essay. Explain that the man students are
going to read about, Chico Mendes, was a citizen of Ecuador
who made saving the environment his life's work.
After students have completed the reading, you may either
use the following as class discussion questions or assign
them as individual or group work.
- Summarizing. Describe the conflict between the
seringueiros and cattle ranchers in the Amazon.
- Making Inferences. Contextthe words
and phrases surrounding another word in a reading passageprovides
a strong clue as to word meaning. Using context clues, give
a meaning for the word sustainable as it pertains
to environmental resources.
- Synthesizing. Explain ways that show Chico Mendes
was a health advocate, someone who helps promote the health
- Analyzing. In the last paragraph of the essay,
author Jeff Trussell describes Chico Mendes as "not
just a hero of the Amazon, . . . [but] a hero of the entire
planet." Explain the truth of this statement.
- Extending. Name and describe another environmental
cause you have read about that has far-reaching consequences
for the health of the planet.
Integrating Social Studies and Health
It is your turn to be an advocate for the health of the planet.
Choose an environmental problem that concerns you. It may
be something close to home, such as a local manufacturing
plant that creates more industrial waste than it can dispose
of, or it may be an issue that you read or learned about.
Find out more about this problem and about solutions that
have been proposed. Write a public service announcement alerting
others in your school or community about the need to take
action. If possible, post your address on your school's Web
site, or read it over the school's public address system.
For more information:
The World is Burning: Murder in the Rain Forest
By Alex Shoumatoff
The Burning Season: HBO films
Rubber Jungle: Camera Guys