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Footprints Around the Lake

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Human Impact on Lake Champlain

Grade Level: 6-12

Common Core Standards
SL.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.3. Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

SL.4. Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Content Areas: Science, Social Studies, Language Arts

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will identify and analyze ways people have impacted on the natural environment.

Students will support and refine their ideas and claims through collaborative discussion.


  1. Introduce the lesson by asking, "How have people impacted on the natural environment around Lake Champlain?"
  2. Identify the various components of the environment as a way of organizing ideas. These will become the headings for the graphic organizer. (Use the one attached or another one that students are familiar with)
  3. Explain that students will first think and respond to the question alone, then as a small group, and finally as a class. The goal will be to expand, focus, and refine their thinking at each step of the process.
  4. Give students time to reflect on the question and record their ideas on the worksheet. (5-10 minutes)
  5. Cluster students into groups of 3-5. Have them share their responses and compile a composite group list that they all agree with.
  6. Gather as a whole class and have each group share their responses. Have students identify the factors they all agree with or refine the ideas that conflict so that there is general agreement.
  7. Record responses on the board.
  8. When the lists are complete, discuss the role people play in natural ecosystems. Guiding questions might include:
    • What human impacts seem to be most damaging? Most benign?
    • What human impacts are temporary? Which more permanent?
    • What would happen to the natural environment if people left the area?
    • Are human activities natural?

Assessments: Informal assessment based on general understanding of the concepts and participation.

Materials/Resources: Footprint Worksheet (pdf) or another graphic organizer

Special Considerations: Group students in a way to promote productive discussion.

Extensions: Students may want to do research to find specific data to support any claims that are challenged in their discussions.