Designers for Learning - Adult Learning Zone
Table of Contents
Part 1: Lesson Description
Analyzing Community Issues through the Flint, MI Water Contamination Crisis
This lesson is for ABE students at a level D-E Reading level to practice identifying key points in video and text and analyzing the causes and effects of social issues, and identifying solutions to these problems. By watching two short videos and reading materials on the effects of lead exposure and on the specific drinking water crisis in Flint, MI, students will examine key issues, analyze the problem and its causes, identify approaches to solving this problem and ones like it in other locations, and apply this approach to other scenarios that are relevant to their immediate lives.
Learner Audience / Primary Users
Low ASE ABE Students, Teachers
- Curriculum / Instruction
- Informal Education
College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment
- Level: Adult Education
- Grade Level: D
- Subject: English Language Arts / Literacy
- Domain or Strand:
English Language Arts / Literacy
Reading of Informational Text, Literature, History/Social Studies Text, or Scientific and Technical text,
Anchor 2: RI/RST 9-10.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Anchor 3: RH 9-10.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Anchor 8: RI.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of the source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Speaking and Listening:
Anchor 1: SL 8.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse populations, building on others' ideas expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
I find this topic interesting because it is a current issue, safe drinking water is relevant to all people, it is a problem that will likely affect more people across the country at higher rates, and it could provide a lot of opportunities for critical thinking, problem solving, discussion, and writing
- Instructional Material
- Lesson Plans
The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:
- identify key topics and themes in the video and text related to education, health, and government responsibility
- summarize key details in the videos and texts to show understanding of the issues presented
- analyze key points and arguments made in the video and text to use in assessing solutions
- reflect on the approaches used and evaluate their efficacy, with a focus on how to apply them in other situations
- Designers for Learning
- Adult Education
- Case Study
- Social Issues
- Problem Solving
- Drinking Water
Time Required for Lesson
The reading levels within this lesson span D and E.
- Internet to show videos and reference the EPA website
- Equipment to show video
- Printouts of the reading, Citizen Science and the Flint Water Crisis, for each student
- Printouts of the individual Student Worksheet for each student
- Printout of Flint Water Crisis Strategy Planning sheet for each student
- Printout of Community Problem Strategy Planning sheet for each student
- 1 Guided Practice Questions sheet for instructor to divide up and distribute questions to groups
- Chart paper of the Community Problem Strategy Planning sheet to chart information throughout the lesson
- Chart paper for brainstorming strategies at end of lesson
- If How Lead Gets into Our Water video is not used: Printout of the reading, The Science Behind the Flint Water Crisis: Corrosion of Pipes, Erosion of Trust, for each student
- If Flint Water crisis video is not used: Printout of the reading, Piping as Poison: the Flint Water Crisis and America's Toxic Infrastructure
Lesson Author & License
- Lesson Author: Ruth Sugar
- License: Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license
Part 2: Lesson
1) After watching video clips and reading information on lead exposure and the Flint, MI water crisis, ABE students will identify at least 3 key causes for the crisis and 3 major effects of the crisis.
2) Using the information from the videos and the readings, ABE students will analyze the actions that were taken by government and citizens to address the crisis and provide at least 2 arguments for why these actions were effective or not effective.
3) After analyzing the crisis, students will propose at least two ideas on how to address this problem or prevent it, or one similar to it, within their community and provide at least one reason for why they think each idea will be useful.
- Water crisis in Flint, MI
- Health crisis
- Government mismanagement
- Community Solutions
This lesson is designed to provide a current events topic that could affect almost any community in the United States--the deterioration of city infrastructure that negatively affects the quality and safety of the public drinking water supply. And, unfortunately, many communities ABE students live in face similar situations in which the environment is not protected and respected, in part due to lower socioeconomic status and lacking political capital and power. Using this topic addresses an actual social justice, socioeconomic, economic, and health issue to improve ABE learners’ reading comprehension, analysis skills, and problem solving skills. In addition to developing these skills, they will learn important health information about lead exposure and how to prevent it, and how to address similar issues should they come up in the future.
This topic lends itself to many extension activities:
- Science: activities such as conducting water analyses, studying water filtration, environmental pollution, etc.
- Civics: writing to representatives, tenant organizing, visiting water filtration plants, class debates, etc.
- Math: graphing information, calculating the parts per billion of contaminants in water, soil, etc.
Relevance to Practice
Using a current topic that students may have encountered in their communities, or could encounter in their communities, is thought provoking, and provides an opportunity to learn about safety, health, government, environmental science, income inequality, etc., that can affect the quality of their lives. Because of this, and the fact that many may have already read about or heard about about this crisis or similar crises in the country, they will find it relevant and engaging, thereby, making skills development more successful.
Key Terms and Concepts
- Emergency Manager
- Public Health
- Community crisis
Instructional Strategies and Activities
The following materials will be used by students throughout the lesson:
Instructor provides Student Worksheet to each student.
Instructor provides Community Strategy Planning document to each student
Time: 4 minutes
- Have you been in a situation when city or state services were not provided well? (think about utilities, road and highway maintenance, school systems and school buildings, natural disaster cleanup, etc.) Briefly describe the problem and how it affected you, your family, or your community.
- How did you, your family, or your community try to solve this problem?
- What were the results when you, your family, or your community tried to solve the problem?
Time: 4 minutes
We are going to focus on Flint, MI where their city water system is not working properly and so citizens have been exposed to lead and other toxins and bacteria. We are going to discuss (1) the reasons why this has happened, (2) the effects on the citizens, and (3) the strategies that are being used to solve the problem, and (4) how we can use this situation in Michigan to think about our own communities.
(Note: Students will be asked to record any new vocabulary words in their vocabulary journals. Some will be defined together in class, and some they will need to look up on their own.)
Before we begin the lesson on the Flint Water Crisis, please jot down answers to the questions below about lead:
What do you know about lead?
- How does lead figure into your everyday life?
- What have you heard about lead in the news related to Flint, MI or another location in the United States?
- Why is lead in our water, air, and soil an important issue for Americans to think about?
Presentation / Demonstration / Modeling
Time: 15 minutes
All students watch the video clip:
Motion Graphic Video Clip: How Lead Gets into Your Drinking Water (1 min 13 sec)
[If unable to play video, use this article as an alternative The Science Behind the Flint Water Crisis]
Modeling: In full group, instructor will ask the questions: Is the water coming from the water plant contaminated with lead? Where does the lead in our water come from?
Students provide the answer and the instructor charts it in the front of the room so that students know how to fill out their worksheets.
Instructor breaks students into groups with 4-5 students (adjust number of groups based on class size) to read the sections of the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website. Go to the website and put in search engine: Basic information on lead in drinking water
- Groups assigned reading A: How lead gets into drinking water
- Groups assigned reading B: Health effects of being exposed to lead in drinking water
Group A will answer the following questions:
Thinking about the video and the section of the EPA website on how lead gets into the drinking water, answer the following questions:
1)What is corrosion and how can it affect water pipes?
2)How is the corrosion of water pipes usually prevented?
3)The year a house, school, or apartment building was built can make the quality of the drinking water better or worse. Why is this the case?
Group B will answer the following questions:
After reading the section of the EPA website on health effects of being exposed to lead in drinking water, answer the questions below:
1)What effects can lead have on development in young children?
2)What effects can lead have on pregnant women and their unborn children?
3)What effects can lead have on adults?
Small groups will report out their answers.
Time: 15 minutes
Full group watches the video and reads the article below.
The Flint Water Crisis Explained (3 min 52 sec)
Students break into small groups. Distribute strips of questions to hand out divided as follows: Group A: Qs 1+2; Group B: Qs 3-5; Group C: Q 6; Group D: Q7
Time: Occurs while students are completing the Practice section of the lesson; Groups will record their answers on chart paper to create a complete response to the Flint Water Crisis Strategy Planning Worksheet.
Time: 15 minutes
Full class discussion of the following, and explanation of how to do the homework assignment.
Why is lead in our water, air, and soil an important issue for Americans to think about?
If your community faces a problem like Flint’s water crisis, or one similar to it, brainstorm good approaches.
For homework, each student will expand on 2 strategies they selected from the brainstorm and explain why they are good approaches using the strategy planning sheet.
Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References
Resources for instructors to reference:
Environmental Protection Agency: Drinking Water & Ground Water Kids' Stuff
Flint, MI: Frequently Asked Questions
Flint Water Crisis: What Happened and Why?
Flint Water Study
Flint’s Water Crisis Explained in 3 GIFs
The Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan
We Fear the Water: Residents Struggle to Cope with the Flint Water Crisis
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011, March 3). Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=22
Olson, T. (2016, January 28).The science behind the Flint water crisis: corrosion of pipes, erosion of trust. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/the-science-behind-the-flint-water-crisis-corrosion-of-pipes-erosion-of-trust-53776
Padilla, R., Gelles, K. & Green, S.(2016, March 17). How much lead in water poses an imminent threat?. USA Today. Motion Graphic. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/03/16/what-lead-levels-in-water-mean/81534336/
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d). Basic information about lead in drinking water. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/your-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water#getinto
Sellers, C. (2016, January 25). Piping as poison:the Flint water crisis and America's toxic infrastructure. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/piping-as-poison-the-flint-water-crisis-and-americas-toxic-infrastructure-53473
The Wilson Center’s Commons Lab. (2016, March 2). Citizen science and the Flint water crisis. Retrieved from https://wilsoncommonslab.org/2016/03/02/citizen-sciences-and-the-flint-water-crisis/
Yahoo News. (2016, January 22). The Flint water crisis explained. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NnoEzXCoyk
Basic Information About Lead in Drinking Water published by the United States Environmental ProtectionAgency at https://www.epa.gov/your-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water#getinto.
Description of lead published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=.
Citizen Science and the Flint Water Crisis created by The Wilson Center’s Commons Lab originally published at https://wilsoncommonslab.org/2016/03/02/citizen-sciences-and-the-flint-water-crisis/ under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0.
The Flint Water Crisis Explained video was created by Yahoo News and published at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NnoEzXCoyk.
This video is copyrighted and is not licensed under an open license. Embedded as permitted by a Standard YouTube license.
The motion graphic How Does Lead Get Into Your Drinking Water was created by Ramon Padilla, Karl Gelles, and Shannon Green for the article, How Much Lead in Water Poses an Imminent Threat, by Alison Young, for USA Today and is available at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/03/16/what-lead-levels-in-water-mean/81534336/. The videois copyrighted and is not licensed under an open license. Embedded as permitted by USA Today.
Piping as Poison: the Flint Water Crisis and America's Toxic Infrastructure created by Chris Sellers for The Conversation at https://theconversation.com/piping-as-poison-the-flint-water-crisis-and-americas-toxic-infrastructure-53473 under Creative Commons License Attribution-NoDerivs Republish.
The Science of the Flint Water Crisis: Corrosion of Pipes, Erosion of Trust created by Terese Olson originally published in The Conversation at https://theconversation.com/the-science-behind-the-flint-water-crisis-corrosion-of-pipes-erosion-of-trust-53776 under Creative Commons License Attribution-NoDerivs Republish.
This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted. Page
(Design Guide effective March 29, 2016)