A Prairie Problem Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan 3

Exploring the Prairie

exploring the prairie module icon


Teams of students will identify environmental issues related to prairie preservation and urban development and present their findings to the class in an oral presentation aided by a poster or PowerPoint presentation. Students will take notes and complete a web diagram or Inspiration type flow chart to storyboard their presentation.


  1. Identify, explain, and effectively use input, output and storage devices of computers and other technologies (e.g., keyboard, mouse, scanner, monitor, printer, floppy disk, hard drive).
  2. Use a variety of productivity tools (e.g., word processing, graphic tools, digital cameras) for communication, presentation, and illustration of ideas (e.g., signs, posters, banners, charts, newsletters, or multimedia presentation.)
  3. Gather information and communicate with others using telecommunications (e.g., email, videoconference)
  4. Utilize search strategies employing keywords, phrases, and Boolean operators (and, or, not) to access and retrieve information.
  5. Use technology resources to assist in problem-solving, self-directed learning, and extended learning activities.

Activity Summary

Students will pretend that they are a team of community leaders, environmentalists and resource experts. A major housing developer is requesting permission from the Zoning Commission to build a new subdivision in one of the few remaining prairie areas of the state. The Zoning Commission has requested information on prairies and the impact the new subdivision would have on the prairie ecosystem. The Commission has requested that a team of experts research the issues and prepare a presentation to assist them in making a decision.

Activity 1

Teams of students will complete a K-W-L-H chart prior to reading the background information and assigning roles.

Activity 2

Students will work with a team or partner and create a graphic organizer that visually summarizes the background information.

Activity 3

Teams will select roles, complete research, and design a project/ presentation describing the benefits and problems of prairie preservation.

The final project will:

  1. Compare and contrast the need for urban growth and the loss of a valuable ecosystem.
  2. Describe the prairie environment of the past.
  3. Explain why prairies are on the endangered list.

Students may write an editorial, letter to the editor, brochure, or magazine article about the issue (similar to National Geographic magazine's articles) or design a poster or Web page to present their research information including drawings or photos.

Each team will assign production roles and tasks such as:

Writers - Compile the information and write text for the PowerPoint presentation

Designers - Design a storyboard or rough sketch of the PowerPoint presentation

Graphic Artists - Design the graphics for the PowerPoint presentation

Peer Review

Students will evaluate peers' presentaitons.

Evaluation questions:

  1. How well are the conclusions supported by data and facts?
  2. Is the argument convincing? What made you think so?
  3. If you were on the Zoning Commission, how would you vote after hearing this presentation? Why?

Tips For Teachers

  • An extensive list of websites is available to students in the Webliography. Students may need assistance in selecting materials that are most appropriate to their specific topic focus and reading level.
  • If PowerPoint presentations are not possible in your classroom, alternative final projects might include a class debate, skit or news broadcast called, "What's Best for Our Community?"
    Students may work in pairs or teams to present information for a news broadcast that reports their research findings and is filmed with a video camera.
    The news clips may be shown again at a learning station and as part of Technology Night presentations.
  • Extension Activity
    Land Use Activities
    Al Stenstrup, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, developed a series of activities for students to compare historical aerial photographs with current aerial photographs and determine what factors influenced land use decisions; evaluate the impacts of different land uses on an area; and consider future changes in land use and the affect on a community.

    This Land is Your Land
    Activity-based lesson plans on land use issues developed by Michigan State University Extension.

Teacher Resources

Using Graphic Organizers

Visual Learning Using Inspiration®
Describes how concept maps and story webs assist students in visually structuring ideas and relationships between concepts and visual brainstorming tools for developing writing plans and problem solving.

Electronic Graphic Organizers: Are They for You?

The templates under the categories Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Teacher Planning, and Thinking Tools include bubble diagrams, tree maps, flow maps, Venn diagrams, and other structures for students to use when organizing information into an outline or concept map.

Planning a PowerPoint Presentation

Developing an Outline

PowerPoint in the Classroom

Creating Presentation and Teaching Materials with PowerPoint

Creating Presentations with PowerPoint

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