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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Protecting Philippine Reefs

Asia, Philippines
Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Environment, Social Studies & Geography
60 minutes

As fish populations plummet, Peace Corps Volunteer Tommy Schultz works with Filipinos to restore the sea life that the local people depend on for food. After watching the slide show, Protecting Philippine Reefs, students will recognize how intertwined human existence is with the health of ecosystems, identifying positive and negative impacts that people can have on their local environment.

Background Information


Facts about the Philippines

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park


After viewing the slide show and engaging in both class and small-group discussions, students should be able to explain:

  • How people can impact their local environment in positive and negative ways.
  • Possible solutions for addressing environmental concerns.
  • diversity: variety, mixture
  • sustainable: practices that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
  • subsistence: earning only enough money for basic needs
  • mangrove: a kind of tree or shrub that grows along tropical shorelines, often in shallow water or swamps
  • teem: to be full of things or to swarm with them, for example, with insects or fish
  • sanctuary: an area set aside as a safe place for animals or plants
  • biodiversity: the variety of plants and animals in a place


  1. Present the essential questions. Explain to the students that these are guiding questions that they should be able to answer by the end of the lesson.
  2. Using a world map (see link above), locate the Philippines or ask a student to do so. Ask the students what they know about the Philippines or what it might be like there (climate, topography, food, clothing, etc.). Proceed by providing some information about the country.
  3. If the students do not know what the Peace Corps is, give them some background information. Then identify Tommy Shultz as a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and explain his role in helping some Filipinos begin to reverse the depletion of their fish populations on which they depend.
  4. View the slide show with the students (distribute copies of the text for students who may profit from following along). Then have the students share their findings (causes and effects) while you record them on the board or on an overhead projector.
  5. Ask the students what solution to the threats to the fish on the coral reefs Tommy Shultz identified in the slide show (e.g., Apo Island Sanctuary). Discuss the solution.
  6. Ask the students in pairs to choose one problem that the class observed and develop a solution. The solution should be one other than an island sanctuary and should address the needs of both the wildlife and the community. If a pair finishes early, have them develop a plan for implementing their solution.
  7. Have the pairs of students share their suggestions with the class.
  8. Ask students to write answers to one or both of the essential questions:
  • What factors must we consider in trying to resolve an environmental issue?
  • Why do people behave in ways that damage their environment?

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings
  • People's actions can significantly affect the condition of their environment.
Essential Questions
  • What factors must we consider in trying to resolve an environmental issue?
  • Why do people behave in ways that damage their environment?

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard C: Life Science

  • Organisms and environments
  • Populations and ecosystems

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Characteristics and changes in populations
  • Types of resources
  • Changes in environments
  • Populations, resources, and environments

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

  • Theme I: Culture and Cultural Diversity
    • Human beings create, learn, share, and adapt to culture
    • Cultures are dynamic and change over time
  • Theme III : People, Places, and Environments
    • Study people, places and environments to understand and examine changes in the relationship between human populations and the physical world
  • Theme IX: Global Connections
    • Examine changes at local, national, and international levels
    • Analyze costs and benefits of increased global connections
    • Evaluate tensions between local, national, and global priorities


  • Dive deeper into coral reefs with NOAA's Ocean Explorer lesson. Develop a series of lesson plans to help your students better understand the delicate ecosystem of coral reefs.
  • Have your students share their knowledge with the school community. For example, students can develop an informational brochure identifying ways the student body can help save coral reefs. Students can develop a presentation and visit classrooms reporting what they've learned.
  • Ask the students to read "25 Things You Can Do to Save Coral Reefs," by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Then, in a class discussion, have the students suggest which options are viable for them and how they can help to protect specific reefs or coral reefs worldwide.
  • In pairs or small groups, have students read "The Day the Turtle Cried" by returned Peace Corps Volunteer Noah Jackson. Discuss the author's tone and how it emphasizes the gravity of the sea turtles'

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