Part 1: Lesson Series Description
Lesson Series Title
Analyzing Community Issues through the Flint, MI Water Contamination Crisis (REVISED) - 3 Lessons
These 3 lessons are for High ABE/ Low ASE 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
High ABE/Low ASE 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 these lessons 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 Lessons
3 lessons - 35 mins each
- The reading levels within this lesson span D and E.
- Comfort with doing Internet searches.
- Internet to show videos and reference the EPA website
- Equipment to show videos
- Printouts of the reading, Citizen Science and the Flint Water Crisis, for each student
- Printouts of the individual Class Notes Sheet for each student
- Printout of Flint Water Crisis Strategy Planning sheet for each student
- Printout of Community Problem Strategy Planning sheet for each student to use for future issues
- Chart paper [See list of charts to prepare in advance of lesson delivery]
- Blank index cards for Lesson #1 Evaluation
Alternative content if video cannot be used, links in the reference list at the end of the lessons:
- 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 Explained’ video is not used: Printout of the reading, Piping as Poison: the Flint Water Crisis and America's Toxic Infrastructure
Lesson Series Author & License
- Lesson Series Author: Ruth Sugar
- License: Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license
Part 2: Lessons
1) After watching video clips, reading the information on lead exposure, and discussing the issues, ABE/ASE students will explain at least 2 ways that we are exposed to lead in our environment and why it is harmful.
2) After watching video clips, reading the information on lead exposure, and discussing the issues, ABE/ASE students will identify at least 5 health effects of lead exposure.
1) After watching video clips, reading the information, and discussing the issues on how the water in Flint, MI was contaminated, ABE/ASE students will identify at least 3 key causes of the crisis and 3 major effects of the crisis.
2) After watching video clips, reading the information, and discussing the issues on how the water in Flint, MI was contaminated, ABE/ASE students will explain at least 3 key causes and 3 major effects of the crisis.
1) Using the information from the videos and the readings, ABE/ASE 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.
2) After analyzing the crisis, ABE/ASE students will propose at least 2 ideas on how to address this problem or prevent it, or one similar to it, within their community and provide at least 1 reason for why they think each idea will be useful.
Lesson Series Topics
- Water crisis in Flint, MI
- Health crisis
- Government mismanagement
- Deteriorating city infrastructure
- Community strategies and solutions
These lessons are 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. Many communities adult education students live in face similar situations in which the environment is not protected and respected, in part due to residents' lower socioeconomic status and lack of political capital and power, and neighborhoods and communities being under served by government entities. Using this topic addresses an actual social justice, socioeconomic, economic, and health issue to improve ABE/ASE 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, studying 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 events 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 successful skills development more likely.
Key Terms and Concepts
- Emergency Manager
- Public Health
- Community crisis
Instructional Strategies and Activities
NOTE TO INSTRUCTORS ON FORMAT OF LESSONS:
- Text in brackets is guidance for the instructor.
- Text with an "Instructor:" in front of it is language for the instructor to use to introduce sections, explain activities, etc.
- CHART = look at chart list document to see which chart to create
The following materials will be used by students throughout the lessons:
- Instructor provides Class Notes Sheet to each student.
- Instructor provides Flint, MI Community Strategy Planning document to each student
Time: 5 minutes
[This is a full class discussion. Students will jot down answers to these questions on the Class Notes Sheet. Volunteers will be asked to share their answers. If students don't need time to write their own answers down, they can speak first. But make sure students take notes on their own thoughts and the sharing their classmates do on the Class Notes Sheet. CHART]
Instructor: We will discuss the following questions as a group.
- 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 or improve the situation?
- What were the results when you, your family, or your community tried to solve the problem or improve the situation?
Time: 5 minutes
Instructor: Today, and in two other lessons, 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 in their drinking water. 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.
[ Students should be asked to record any new vocabulary words in vocabulary journals. Some terms will be defined together in class, and some they will need to look up on their own.]
Instructor: Before we begin the lesson on the Flint Water Crisis, please jot down answers to these questions:
Instructor: What do you know about lead? Jot down your answers on the Class Notes Sheet or take notes on the comments your classmates make. [It is removed from our gasoline, it was used in paint and may be in our homes, we filter our water to reduce it, it can contaminate soil and water, there are regulations about lead, etc.]
- 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?
[Read aloud to the class the definition of Lead from the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Respond to questions and clarify terms or have students who know the terms explain them.]
Presentation / Demonstration / Modeling
Time: 8 minutes
[All students watch the video clip, which is a motion graphic, together as a class. CHART]
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: Corrosion of Pipes, Erosion of Trust ]
Instructor: Is the water coming from the water plant contaminated with lead or does the contamination happen at a different point? Where does the lead in our water come from?
[For reading portion, instructor provides this content by doing the following, based on class situation: has the information in advance through a download or printed copies, or instructor or students pull up the website on Internet in class. Students provide the answers orally and the instructor charts it in the front of the room so that students know how to fill out their worksheets. CHART]
Instructor: To complete the work in this section, in addition to thinking about the video, we are going to read sections from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website. We find this information by putting in the search engine: "Basic information on lead in drinking water" and this will provide the sections we want to focus on. As a full group, we will start with the section, How lead gets into drinking water, and then answer questions 1-3 on the Class Notes Sheet.
[As a full class, the instructor asks for volunteers to read a section and then asks the group to respond to the questions. The instructor will write down their answers on the chart.]
Instructor: 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?
Time: 12 minutes
[Instructor breaks students into 3 groups so that each group can answer one question; make adjustments as necessary based on class size. In small groups the students will read the section "Health effects of being exposed to lead in drinking water" and answer questions below in their groups. CHART]
Instructor: In your small group, read the section "Health effects of being exposed to lead in drinking water" individually. Then as a group, discuss the question you are assigned together and write your notes on the Class Notes Sheet. Your group will report out on your question. If there are terms you do not know, look them up use the information to explain your answers because it will help others in the class to understand.
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?
Time: 5 minutes
[Instructor hands out index cards, one to each student. They will write their names on them, and write the question numbers and their responses to the questions. CHART]
Instructor: Write your names on the cards. The questions are on this chart - just write your answers labeling them #1, #2 , #3.
1) Why do you think we discussed these topics today?
2) List 3 things that you learned today from the video, reading, and discussion with the group.
3) What is one question that you have? Or is there something that you have found confusing about the information we worked on today?
[The students will create a consumer safety flyer for homework. Students should be encouraged to be creative, using various media to develop this document. This flyer does not have to be done on a computer, students can work in any medium they would like. Instructions are also found on Class Notes Sheet.]
Instructor: For homework, you will create a consumer safety flyer about lead in drinking water. Go to the EPA websites that we looked at, and look up the CDC page that provides information on the City or State Lead Programs. Look up your state and go to the website provided. In your flyer, include the dangers of lead in the water, how it gets in the water, who should be contacted to learn more about lead levels in your community. If you can find it, include how you can get tests done on local water systems to find out if lead is in the water. On this flyer, you can use images, drawings, words, clippings from magazines, newspapers, video, audio, etc. -- whatever you want to use to present the information that is useful on the flyer.
Time: 3-5 minutes
[This is a large group discussion.]
Instructor: What did you learn from our discussions, readings, the video, and your homework in lesson #1? What was new to you, or surprised you, or was really interesting to you? [Instructor can also share data collected from the index cards from the previous class session.]
Time: 30 seconds
Instructor: In lesson #1 we talked about how things can go wrong in communities, whether its government providing services, or governments responding to a crisis. We discussed some ways that people handle these situations and we learned about the dangers of lead. In lesson #2 we are going to focus on the water crisis in Flint, MI, the effects on the community and what the community did to respond to the.
Presentation / Demonstration / Modeling
Time: 10 minutes
[Class watches the video together.]
The Flint Water Crisis Explained (3 min 52 sec)
The Flint Water Crisis Explained
[As a class, students will provide responses orally as a large group. The class will decide what the final answer should be, composing their thoughts into into full sentences to put on the chart. Either the instructor or student volunteers can write the final responses on the chart. Instructor can take the lead with question # 1 to model for the class how to do next 3 questions. CHART]
(1) What decisions and mistakes were made by officials in the city of Flint, Michigan that made the water unsafe to drink and use for washing and cooking?
(2) Why did the city officials make these decisions about the water supply?
(3) How did the water supply get contaminated with lead and other poisons?
(4) How did the water problem get identified?
Time: 15 minutes
[Break the students into small groups. They will read the article individually; Instructor can also read the article aloud while students read silently, depending on instructor assessment of what works best for the group. Questions can be divided as follows: Group 1: Qs 1a and 1b ; Group 2: Qs 1c and 1d ; Group 3: Q 2 . Each group should be given a sheet of chart paper with their questions written out so they can write their answers on it and present to the large group. CHART]
Instructor: Working in small groups, read the article and answer your assigned question(s). When answering the questions, also think about the information in the video. Each group will report out on your answers, explaining your ideas and answering any questions from the class.
1a. Water quality
1b. Health of the residents
1c. Economic issues in the city
1d. The way the residents view their local and state government
2. What strategies were used to address the water issues in Flint, MI? Which were helpful and which were not?
Evaluation occurs while students are responding to the questions, working in groups discussing and recording their answers on the charts, and as each group explains their answers to the rest of the class.
[Explain homework assignment to students. Ask them to do a search and read at least one article on Madison, WI and how that city managed the lead in their water. Ask them to compare what happened in Madison and what happened in Flint, in 1-2 paragraphs. They can brainstorm search terms right now in class, so they know what to do when they do the homework, i.e., Madison + Pipes; Madison, WI +lead; Madison, WI +Flint, MI; WI +Flint, MI +lead pipes. Or the instructor can point students to this one article, that is a basic overview of what Madison did. Avoiding a Future Crisis, Madison Removed Lead Water Pipes 15 Years Ago]
Homework assignment is on your Class Notes sheet,
Time: 5 mins
[Students will do open sharing about what they learned about Madison, and what they think Flint could learn from Madison.]
Instructor: What did you learn about Madison, and what do you think Flint could learn from Madison?
Time: 1 minute
Instructor: In lesson #1 we talked about how things can go wrong in communities, whether its government providing services, or governments responding to crisis. We discussed some ways that people handle these situations and we learned about the dangers of lead. In lesson #2 we talked about the water crisis in Flint, MI, the effects on the community and what the community did in response. In lesson #3 we are
going to focus on strategies to address a water crisis and other types of community
crises. When thinking about a problem, it is helpful to break it down to figure
out how to approach fixing it or improving the situation.
Presentation / Demonstration / Modeling
Time: 10 minutes
[Instructor introduces the Community Problem Strategy Worksheet and explains how it will be used. Group will fill out the first 5 columns together. CHART]
As a group, we are going to chart the information as it relates to the Flint, MI water crisis on this Community Problem Strategy Worksheet.
Time: 10 minutes
[Break students into small groups. Students will brainstorm in their small groups and then report out to the larger group. Answers will be compiled on the chart of the Community Problem Strategy sections that has been partially completed in the previous activity]
Instructor: Based on what we have learned, on your own experiences, and/or on the experiences of people you know, brainstorm a list of at least 3 ideas of what you would do if your water didn't taste, smell, or look right. Who or what organizations would you talk to or ask for help? What would you want your neighbors and community to do?
Time: 10 mins
[Instructor asks the class to think of one reason that each of the following stakeholders might include in a letter to a city official about why addressing lead in our environment is important. Instructor can assign the stakeholders to groups, let them pick, or only provide a subset of this list--whatever makes sense for the class. CHART]
Instructor: A lot of different stakeholders have opinions about how to handle a problem. What would each of these stakeholders focus on in a letter to a council member about lead contamination?
- Parents of small children
- Community activist
- School teacher
- Medical doctor
- City official in charge of finances
- Water plant employee
[Instructor splits class into small groups. Students will brainstorm in groups and then report out. The instructor will record all the answers on a chart so that for the next portion students can select 2 strategies to expand on and provide rationales for why they will be effective. CHART]
Instructor: You will work in small groups and then report out your answers. Based on what we have learned, on your own experiences, and/or the experiences of people you know, select 2 strategies from the brainstormed list of what you would do if your water didn't taste, smell, or look right. Provide at least 1 reason for each your of your ideas, explaining why you think your approach will be effective. Write your ideas on the Notes sheet and your final answers on the Community Problem Strategy Planning sheet.
Homework Assignment: Finish this activity.
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
Corley, C. (2016, March 31). Avoiding a future crisis, Madison removed lead water pipes 15 years ago. NPR.org. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2016/03/31/472567733/avoiding-a-future-crisis-madison-removed-lead-water-pipes-15-years-ago
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 video is 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.