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Resource Sustainability Water Garbage Fossil Fuel PBL Unit Print & Digital

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
170 PDF + 115 Google Slide pages + 55 PPT slides
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Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).

Also included in

  1. This tightly-woven semester course combines Human Geography, Contemporary World Issues, and Environmental Science into a must-teach inquiry-driven, real-world, project-based experience.With these thematic, inquiry-driven units that build on each other, ask students to decide for themselves where the
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Explore the increasingly urgent problem of our world’s 3 biggest environmental dilemmas: how to conserve our water, how to end our addiction to fossil fuel oils, and how to stop generating so much garbage (especially plastic waste) in this 8-week PBL inquiry unit on sustainability.

Everything from pollution to conservation, carbon footprints to single-use disposables, renewable energy alternatives like wind, solar, and hydrogen to landfills and zero-waste lifestyles are covered!

This mega unit is like three units in one!

This unit is part of a thematic, project-based course, Global Issues to Empower, a semester-long look at current events, human geography, and environmental science.

Check out the Preview for a detailed look at this compelling unit or download the FREE Unit-At-A-Glance.

All student resources come in both printable PDF and editable, digital Google Slides.

Also available are stand-alone units that deep-dive into each topic individually.

  • Water Supply & Pollution: a 3-week unit exploring our finite freshwater supply and the human rights, pollution, and conservation issues that need urgent solutions
  • Fossil Fuels & Alternatives: a 3-week unit exploring our addiction to oil, the harsh impact it is having on our air pollution and greenhouse gas levels, and the urgent need to switch to clean renewable energy sources
  • Plastic & Garbage: a 3-week unit exploring the modern invention of garbage, landfills, and single-use disposables, the effects it is having on our oceans, and how a zero-waste lifestyle can be possible


Greatness is believing that one person’s choices can impact the world.

Few teenagers know the world beyond their own surroundings and many have no idea how their lifestyle, their consumption levels, their “normal” behavior negatively impacts our environment and our planet’s future.

Guide your students through a wide variety of sources (from documentaries and maps to simulations and news articles) as they grapple with the not-so-simple question: “How can I help sustain this planet for future generations?”

You will set each of your students up for success in this high interest, multi-faceted inquiry unit, regardless of ability, with highly scaffolded graphic organizers, skill sheets, powerful projects, and supplemental resources included at each step of the way.

Empower your students to become globally aware eco-citizens in this 3-part, 8-week unit!

Activities are completely interchangeable as well- mix and match depending on time constraints, student ability, or personal interests.

Included in this complete thematic, inquiry-driven PBL unit:


  • Teacher Unit Overview with general notes, unit takeaway, standards, and pacing guide
  • Daily Lesson Plans with step-by-step details, planning, and lesson takeaway notes
  • Detailed Answer Keys for each activity
  • Editable PPT slide show file to support the end-of-unit culminating essay with step-by-step essay brainstorming, outlining, writing
  • Student Unit Review and Skills handouts with self-checking questions and "I Can..." statements
  • Student Unit Notes sheet for building deep and nuanced mastery of concepts over the course of the unit using powerful graphic organizers
  • Student Skill Handouts that include Annotating a Text, Analyzing a News Media Source, Deciding a Precise Position, Constructing a Thesis, Including Evidence, Creating a Works Cited, and Annotating a Works Cited

Student Activities

  • Unit Hook: quiz on eye-popping statistics and facts about our planet's resources
  • Water Activities: take a personal water audit, learn about the water shortage crisis emerging throughout the world, hear stories of women and children who must forgo school and work to solely gather water, watch a investigative documentary on the world's most polluted river, analyze a variety of maps and graphs on the limited access to fresh water across the world
  • Fossil Fuel Activities: learn about the history and different types of fossil fuels, analyze data displays of declining reserve and increasing consumption, explore the fuel monopoly created and the alternative bio-fuels that also can power cars in the powerful documentary Pump, research the costs and benefits of clean, renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro, and deep-dive into the lifestyles of people living off the grid
  • Garbage Activities: uncover the history of plastic and the myth of recycling we have created, analyze data displays of massive consumption and lack of reuse, explore the hidden-away landfills of the world, watch compelling video diaries of people saying no to single-use disposable plastic and yes to a zero-waste lifestyle in the compelling film, Bag It, and various vlog challenges, and investigate the surprising findings from experts about how stuff doesn't really make people happy
  • Be The Solution Project: creating either a bulletin board display of quick tips and shocking facts or more in-depth infographics , students share what they have learned with the school community
  • Unit Essay: culminate learning and takeaway with this unit-encompassing DBQ-style essay that is supported with a collaborative brainstorm activity, detailed instructions, outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics, that asks them to answer “How can I sustain our planet's resources?”

Note to Homeschoolers

Though the included teacher lesson plans are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:

  • the inquiry, thematic structure of this unit is driven by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question
  • a wide ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit,
  • your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
  • most activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
  • all utilized sources are free and/or inexpensively obtainable; either included or accessible online (links provided)
  • this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
  • any one activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest

Note on Resources Used

All video clips, full-length documentaries, news articles, and web tools can be accessed free online at the time of this latest update. However, it's encouraged to ownership of the full-length to ensure continued access, Pump and Bag It


Like this unit? Grab the rest of the course!

Global Issues to Empower is a semester-long current events, human geography, and environmental science all-in-one course that will create global citizens out of your students

This listing is for one license for regular, non-commercial classroom use by a single teacher only. In upholding copyright law, PDF resources are uneditable and resources made for Google Classroom have some editing abilities. By purchasing a license to this resource, you have access to all future updates at no cost, available under “My Purchases". Multiple and transferable licenses are available for purchase. To request a complete terms of use prior to purchase or if you have any questions about this resource, please leave a question below under Product Q&A.

Total Pages
170 PDF + 115 Google Slide pages + 55 PPT slides
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
2 months
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


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