skip navigation links
Global Perspectives > Geography in the News > Lesson Plans > Environmental Problems: How Can We Change Our Ways?--Grades 6-8
This is a demonstration of Maps101, the
Cross-Curricular Resource for K-12 Schools.

You can view listings of all content but only selected content is accessible. For a complete view, sign up for a free trial. If you are a registered user, login here.
National Council for Geography Education Logo
Environmental Problems: How Can We Change Our Ways?--Grades 6-8

Download PDF


Students are probably familiar with some of the world's environmental problems, but they may not be fully aware of the direct relationship between these problems and human activities. In this lesson, students will look at articles discussing environmental problems around the world, explain the significance of human activities, and write proposals suggesting ways in which people can change their activities to help solve the environmental problems.

Time Frame: 3-4 class periods

Objectives and Standards

Students will:

  • List environmental problems they're familiar with and state the human causes of these problems.
  • Read and answer questions about articles concerning environmental problems around the world.
  • Map the locations of the environmental problems.
  • Create proposals suggesting ways human can change their activities to improve the environmental problems.
  • Present their proposals to the class.

National Social Studies Standards:

  • 3: People, Places, and Environments: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.
  • 9: Global Connections: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.

National Geography Standards:

  • 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
  • 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
  • 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

Maps and Materials Needed

Materials Needed:

  • Student handout (one copy for each group)
  • World outline maps (one copy for each group)
  • Class wall map of the world (optional)
  • Small index cards (optional)


Have students research and report on activities that are underway to solve some of the environmental problems they've studied. What is being done, and what solutions have been proposed?


  1. Ask students to name some environmental problems with which they're familiar. List their responses on the board. Then ask them to explain the ways in which people contribute to these problems, and list their ideas on the board next to the list of environmental problems. Discuss the significance of human impacts on the environment, explaining that human activities are the primary cause of environmental problems.
  2. Divide the class into small groups of three or four students each. Assign each group one of the following broad categories: air; water; animals and plants; forests and deserts; and climate and weather. Have groups locate Geography in the News articles about environmental problems around the world that relate to their assigned categories. Ask each group to try to find three articles in its category.
  3. Have students complete the table on the handout to summarize the environmental problem discussed in their articles.
  4. Have groups label the locations of the environmental problems on outline maps. Then, if possible, have each group write the environmental problems on small index cards and tape or tack them to a class wall map so the entire class can see where the problems are and what everyone else is investigating.
  5. Have groups create proposals suggesting ways in which humans can change their activities to improve these environmental problems. The proposals should include suggestions for improving all three of the problems the group has studied. Each proposal should include at least one map illustrating the locations of the problems, one illustration showing one or more aspects of the problems, and one to three pages of text recommending what people can do.
  6. Have students present their proposals to the class.
  7. Discuss with the class how realistic they think their proposals are. Do they think people will really change their behaviors in these ways?

Assessment Suggestions

Check to make sure that students have:

  • Worked cooperatively in their groups.
  • Completed the handout with answers reflecting a thoughtful reading of the three articles.
  • Accurately mapped the locations of the environmental problems.
  • Created proposals that include all the required components and that clearly and convincingly recommend ways in which people can modify their activities.
  • Presented their proposals to the class in a serious and convincing manner.

Environmental Problems: How Can We Change Our Ways?

Student Handout


Article 1

Article 2

Article 3

What environmental problem or problems are discussed in this article?




Where is this problem occurring?







Why is this problem occurring?







What changes can people make to help make this problem better?







Twitter Facebook Permitted Use Maps101 News Maps101 is ADA Compliant Privacy Policy © 2018