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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Reef Results, Problem-Solving, and Solutions

Asia, Pacific Islands, Philippines
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Environment, Health, Language Arts & Literature, Social Studies & Geography, TESOL
Two 60 min. blocks

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. They will also practice reading fluency and new vocabulary in sentence construction and writing.

 The Coral Reef: A Hidden World

NOAA: International Year of the Ocean – Kids and Teachers Resources

Facts about the Philippines

Facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park


  • To list positive and negative impacts that people can have on their local environment
  • To explain how human populations impact the health of natural ecosystems, both positively and negatively
  • To explain how the health of natural ecosystems impacts human populations, both positively and negatively
  • To accurately use a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases


  • 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 : different kinds of plants and animals in a place
  • diversity : variety, mixture, different
  • reef : a long line of or rocks or coral (a hard material formed on the bottom of the sea by the skeletons of small creatures) in warm, shallow water
  • poacher : a person who hunts, catches, or kills animals or fish illegally
  • ecosystem: includes living things, such as plants and animals, and things that are not living, such as rocks, soil, sunlight, and water
  • decimate : to severely damage or destroy a large part of something (animals, plants, people, buildings, etc.)
  • predator: an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals
  • dynamite fishing: the use of dynamite (a strong explosive) to destroy, break apart, or remove (something)
  • coastal environment: the natural world near a body of water (ocean, lake, river)
  • endangered : used to describe a type of animal or plant that has become very rare and that could die out completely 


 (links above)


  • Picture Word Cards (pdf)
  • Word Definition Cards (pdf)
  • Sea Animal Picture Word Cards (pdf)
  • Cognitive Content Dictionary (doc)

Problem, Cause, Solution (humans on ecosystems):

  • Student Handout (doc)
  • Teacher Handout (pdf)


 Day 1

  1. Present the essential questions and explain that students should be able to answer them by the end of the lesson.
    • How can understanding the causes and effects of environmental issues help us find solutions?
    • How does human behavior positively or negatively influence ecosystems?
  2. Using a map of Southeast Asia (link above), have students locate the Philippines. Ask the students what they know about the Philippines or what it might be like there (climate, topography, food, clothing, etc.). Provide some information about the country: location, climate, resources, and industries.
  3. Explain that Peace Corps Volunteer Tommy Schultz helped his community in the Philippines reverse the depletion of the fish populations on which they depend.
  4. Preview vocabulary
    • Share vocabulary picture word cards with students. Show the picture, say the word, have students repeat the word, use the word in a sentence, then ask students what they think the word means.
    • Complete Cognitive Content Dictionary with students
  5. Before viewing the slide show, distribute Problem-Cause-Solution (humans on ecosystems) student handout and review directions. To respond, students may draw or write using words.
  6. View the slide show Protecting Philippine Reef (link above) with students. Pause the slide show at key points. Have the students share their observations (problems and causes) while teacher records them on the board or on an overhead projector. If challenging for students to generate, discuss as whole class.

    Day 2

  7. Review the results and problems students had previously identified (re-post observations on board). Ask students what solution Tommy Schultz identified to address the threats to the fish on the coral reefs (e.g., Apo Island Sanctuary). Discuss the solution.
  8. Working in pairs, have students choose one result of ecosystem deterioration from the slide show and propose a solution. If challenging for students to generate, discuss together as a class (See Problem-Cause-Solution (humans on ecosystems) teacher handout for possible answers).
    • 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 write a sentence for each vocabulary word.
    • Have each pair of students share their suggestions with the class. Teacher or student pair writes sentence on sentence strip.
    • Sentence jigsaw puzzle
      • Teacher or students create sentences using key vocabulary specific to the "Result, Problem, Solution" handout and writes them on sentence strips.
      • Keeping sentences separate, they are cut up word by word, then paper-clipped together or placed in an envelope/bag.
      • Students swap sentences and put them back together, reading the sentences aloud.
  9. Have students write a letter or email to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park stating possible solutions.
    • Depending on language level, students may use same sentences from jigsaw puzzle activity.
    • In pairs, have students exchange letters and edit for grammar, punctuation and idea fluency offering constructive feedback.
  10. Using the Problem, Cause, Solution (humans on ecosystems ) student handout, have students connect with their own experience and discuss a local environmental issue/s:
    • Have students identify an environmental issue/s in the local community. What are the results, problems and possible solutions?
    • In pairs or small groups, have students design an informational poster integrating new vocabulary 

Frameworks & Standards

 Enduring Understandings
  • People's actions can significantly affect the condition of their environment and vice-versa.
  • Environmental changes influence how people live. However, human-caused environmental effects can be altered if humans change their behaviors to more sustainable practices.
Essential Questions
  • How can understanding the causes of environmental issues help us find solutions?
  • How does human behavior positively or negatively influence ecosystems?


PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards

Standard 1: Communicate for social, intercultural, and instructional purposes with the school setting

Standard 4: Communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the area of science

Standard 5: Communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the area of social studies

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard C: Life Science

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Theme I: Culture and Cultural Diversity

Theme III: People, Places, and Environments

Theme IX: Global Connections

U. S. National Geography Standard 


Essential Element I: The World in Spatial Terms

Essential Element II: Places and Regions

Essential Element V: Environment and Society 


  1.  Students write letters to local government about an environmental issue in their community.
  2. Students create their own picture/vocabulary cards for home use and study practice.
  3. Students re-view the slide show and complete the Sea animal sketch handout
  4. Have students individually or in pairs explore two websites about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and note three new things learned:
  5. Read aloud The Day the Turtle Cried (link above) by returned Peace Corps Volunteer Noah Jackson
    • Share photos of sea turtles
    • Have students research sea turtles and note 5-10 facts
    • Have students act like sea turtles as Noah does at the end of the story
  6. Have your students share their knowledge with the school community. For example, in pairs or small groups, have students:
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