Grade Range: 4-6

ACF Lesson Plan: Writing About Science and the Environment


Students learn about land reclamation/restoration, then discuss and write about the process.

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Students will:
  1. Gain an understanding of the concept of land reclamation
  2. Compare and contrast articles about land reclamation.
  3. Identify a location in their community that might be converted through the land reclamation process
  4. Describe how they would plan for the reclamation of their chosen location

National Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Time Needed:

Two class periods



  1. First, ask students what they already know about coal mines.
  2. Then ask if they know about the concept of land reclamation.
  3. Explain that reclamation is the process of restoring something to a state that is the same as or better than it was before work was done on the land (in this context, coal mining). They may have heard the phrase “to leave something better than how you found it”.
  4. Have the students read the articles about reclamation at coal mines. They may want to take notes on a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two articles.
  5. Then, guide students through a discussion about areas in their community that might benefit from reclamation. Are there abandoned parking lots or abandoned factories?
  6. Have students make a list of everything they would need to know about the property before planning a reclamation project. Questions to consider include:
    • What should the land be used for when reclamation is completed?
    • What do they want the land to look like when they complete reclamation?
    • Who owns the land?
    • Do they need to seek village or city permission to convert the land?
    • What supplies will they need? Where will they purchase them? How much will they cost?
  7. Students should then write about a step-by-step plan for converting their selected area to a more environmentally friendly option using the information from the articles and their research.


The students’ writing should be assessed using a rubric from your writing curriculum.


  1. Students might put their plan into action. They could seek out permission from the owner of an abandoned area and actually bring a reclamation plan to your village or city.
  2. Students might also find local groups that protect natural habitats and participate in those activities.
  3. If those are not possible, students might seek out a small part of their schoolyard that needs some attention and plan on beautifying that area with native plants.


  1. There are hundreds of articles about reclamation online. Others might be chosen at a higher or lower reading level as needed.
  2. Students who need a challenge might write their plan in an essay form instead of a list. Students who need more support would benefit from a list that is already generated, and they would choose the most appropriate steps from that list.