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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans
Saving the Rainforests

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/mbhs/girlinger/rainforests.htm

How it works:

The New York City Regents requires that students read, comprehend, analyze and respond to informational essays. This unit on the “Rainforests” reinforces these skills.

The first lesson is a basic developmental reading lesson. After motivational questions, in which the students share their knowledge of rainforests, new vocabulary is introduced. This is accomplished by using contextual sentences. In order to reinforce vocabulary, students will also determine parts of speech of each new word. Once this has been done, the students will read the composition first silently and then aloud. The students will demonstrate comprehension of the reading by completing various comprehension questions.

In lesson two, students must complete the “know, want to know, learn" chart by rereading the rainforest text and using the Internet. The “know” component of the chart must be completed by rereading the text. Then, working together with a partner, the students will think at additional questions which they word like answered about the rainforest. Once they have completed their questions, they will do a World Search on Yahoo for rain forests. They will visit the various websites to find the answers to their inquiries.

Once the students are well aware of the problems of the rainforests in lesson three we will discuss various solutions to this environmental dilemma. After having elicited various solutions, we will go to ask.com  and find the address to the Brazilian consulate. We will write a letter to the Consulate General, since most of the world’s rainforests are located in Brazil. Needless to say, we will review the parts of a business letter before we begin. We will also familiarize ourselves with the various font and margins in our word processing program before we edit and e-mail our business letter to the Consulate in lesson four.

Standards addressed in this unit:

This unit on the rainforest touches upon almost all standards for English Language Arts. As stated, students will be able to read and comprehend informational material. In response to the reading, they will be able to write a persuasive business letter. As a group they will be able to formulate possible solutions to the rainforest problem. Their business letter will demonstrate an understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral work. Before e-mailing their letters they will revise their work to improve its clarity and effectiveness.

Materials needed:

The students will be required to “surf the net” and find web sites in order answer their rainforest inquires. We will use a word processor to type and edit their business letters. Finally, they will need an e-mail account with which to e-mail their letters.

The students:

The students in this class are primarily incoming 9th and 10th graders. Although many of them are familiar with the Internet and word processing functions from their home computers, few of them have used the computer in a classroom setting. The ethnic background of my students was predominantly Chinese and Hispanic. Some students possessed strong intermediate level reading and writing skills, while a few were extremely strong in both. This unit bridged the gap between the areas.

Overall value:

The rainforest is an interesting topic to research on the Internet; the students were excited by the bright and colorful visuals on the rainforest web sites and the plethora of information to be found. The two writer responses, the know, want to know, learn chart, and the business letters were structured activities which could be mastered by students of various skills and abilities. I believe the thirst for knowledge about the rainforest and the subsequent responses to the problems of the rainforest were, by far, the program’s best feature.


Allow the students adequate time to search and study the various web sites on the rainforest. The students cannot fail to be moved by the plight of this extraordinary area. The subsequent projects will simply flow from their enthusiasm.

Gabrielle Irlinger-Dingle is an ESL teacher at Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan.

E-mail: Girlinger@hotmail.com

Subject Area: ESL, Science

Estimated class periods  to complete: 5-6 based on a 50-minute class period.

Grade levels: 9-12


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