Speaking from the Heart

Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 5 classes/1 week
30 minutes to read lesson plan and to reserve time in the library and/or computer lab
Materials: Use of library and/or computer lab

Students will choose an environmental health topic, which they have, a personal connection or a special interest.  Then they will do sufficient research from a variety of sources to deliver an impromptu speech appealing to the audience on an emotional level while containing significant facts in a public arena.

Purpose – This is the explain lesson.  Students will do the necessary research to be able to deliver an impromptu talk in the next lesson.

Students will be able to:

  1. Gather information on a focused topic dealing with an environmental health issue;
  2. Choose an environmental health issue to which the student has an emotional connection;
  3. Consult enough sources to compile sufficient information to create an impromptu speech that has both emotional appeal and factual grounding.

National Language Arts Education Standards
Standard #7 
Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems.  They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Standard #8
Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, videos) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Arizona State Standards:
            Strand 1: Concept 6: Comprehension Strategies
                        PO 4. Connect information and events in text to experience and to related text
            and sources.
            Strand 3: Concept 1: Expository Text
                        PO 2. Distinguish among different kinds of evidence used to support conclusions
                                    (e.g., logical, empirical, anecdotal).
PO 4. Compare (and contrast) readings on the same topic, by explaining how
authors reach the same or different conclusions based upon differences
in evidence, reasoning, assumptions, purposes, beliefs, or biases.

Teacher Background
It would help you to be a more valuable resource to your students if you were familiar with the material being studied concurrently in the science and social studies lessons for this unit.  Understanding the basic concepts of toxicology will enable you to guide the students in doing appropriately in-depth research on the environmental health topic of their choices.  Knowing the historical aspects of activism based on environmental health threats will help you to show the students how to make similar connections to
situations in their own backyards.

Resource Websites
PULSE Resources Index Page: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/index.html
PULSE Basic Toxicology Resource Page: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/toxicology/teachers.htm



1. Students will spend this week researching an environmental health issue in order to have necessary information to be able to talk with the public, delivering a message they create in an impromptu manner, but reflecting what they have learned from their science and social studies classes. To support their work in these other classes and to prepare them for next week’s activity in language arts, each student will be doing research all this week on an environmental health issue of his or her choosing using a multitude of resources in the library and/or computer lab.

2. Briefly explain to the students that they will be making an impromptu speech next week that will utilize at least 10 solid facts, statistics, quotes, etc. directly related to their environmental health issues.  These facts will be a powerful way to back up the emotional appeal that will be manner of delivery for the speeches.

3. In preparation for this activity, each student will be creating an informational list of significant facts about his or her environmental health issue. The list or compilation needs to be neatly organized so that the fact, statistic, quote, etc. is accurately stated followed by a complete citation of the source it came from. Since this work supports ongoing effort in the science and social studies classes, it would be best to use the scientific format of citation. Each compilation needs a minimum of 10 citations. The student should look for solid information, but also include startling statistics and attention-grabbing quotes. The student should use many different types of sources such as books, magazines, encyclopedias, newspapers, personal interviews, and not just rely solely on the Internet. Depending on the sources available to your students in your particular library, you should stipulate how many of each source should be represented in the compilation paper.

It is essential to reach an audience on both an emotional level and an intellectual level.  With this week’s work the students will be equipped to prepare a speech that will both inform and make their audiences care about the environmental health topic being presented.

If the students do not finish gathering appropriate resources in the five classes, they need to finish up this preparation work on their own time.

Embedded Assessment
Student learning in this lesson can be assessed by observing how well each student conducts his or her research, how focused he or she works, and how much usable information he or she finds and documents the sources appropriately.  The compilation paper needs to include a list of relevant facts, figures, quotes, and information.  It should be organized, have a complete citation for each entry, and contain at least 10 entries gathered from a variety of sources.0 entries gathered from a variety of sources.



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: March 7, 2007
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