1. Before students enter the classroom, write the question
of the day on the board: “What is illiteracy?” Give
students a few minutes to write down their own definitions
of the word, without using a dictionary. After students
have had a chance to write a response, have a student
use a dictionary to determine the precise definition.
Ask the class how their definition differs from the
dictionary version, and which they find more useful.
Then pose this question to the class: In what situations
could illiteracy be dangerous? What if you couldn’t
read a posted health warning? What if you couldn’t
read an appliance safety manual? What about street
signs? Discuss responses and ideas.
2. Explain to the class that today they are going to apply
what they have learned about the importance of reading to a
situation that could affect a community’s environmental
health. Distribute the handout The Dangers of Illiteracy: A
Hypothetical Situation, and read the introduction aloud. Have
students independently read the bulleted section of the handout,
which gives a summary of the fictional situation. Instruct
the class that after they have read about this community they
should thoughtfully answer the “Questions to Consider” on
a separate sheet of paper. Give the class about 15 minutes
to do this independent work.
3. For the next 15-20 minutes, students will be working in
groups of 3 or 4 to design a solution to the illiteracy problem
in Sometown. Ask the students to carefully consider the needs
of this community and address each need in their solution.
Each group should have some product, for example a poster or
a short speech, explaining how reading could empower and protect
Have each group present their solution to Sometown’s
illiteracy problem. How would they successfully inform the
public of this potential health hazard, and prevent this
problem from happening again?
Student solutions should be evaluated with the following
criteria in mind:
1. Does the solution address the special needs of this
community? (For example, the fact that many of the residents
may not primarily speak English?)
2. Does the solution explain how residents will be empowered
3. Does the solution successfully address the environmental
4. Does the solution identify ways in which it will solve
the illiteracy problem in the long run?
None for today.