Author:
Amanda Jenkins
Subject:
U.S. History, Life Science
Material Type:
Unit of Study
Level:
Middle School
Tags:
  • Civics
  • Climate Science
  • ClimeTime
  • Earth Science
  • Ecosystem
  • Life science
  • Wildfire
  • climetime
  • earth-science
  • life-science
  • wa-ela
  • wa-social-studies
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Wildfires of Central Washington Inquiry Lesson Plan

    Overview

    Students will be exploring the idea of ecosystems and wildfires. They will become familiar with what an ecosystem is and how to keep them healthy. Students will also see the positive and negative effects of wildfires on ecosystems. Also how wildfires influence the local government and federal government when it comes to land management.

    ClimeTime Inquiry: Wildfires of Central Washington

    How much of a role should humans have in preventing wildfires in Central Washington?

    Photo by Steve Buissinne on Pixabay, last updated in June 2015. 

    Picture Description: This is a photo of a grassland ecosystem. The landscape is hill-like with long, brown, dry grass, rocks and a tree. In the middle of the photo there is a line of fire with lots of grey colored smoke coming off of it. Ten firefighters appear to be around the fire. Five firefighters on the right are making what appears to be a fire line to try and prevent the fire from continuing to burn in that direction. The rest of the firefighters are scattered around the fire observing and fighting it back.  

    Supporting Questions

     

    1. What are ecosystems? Specifically, what are the ecosystems of central Washington state?

    2. What are factors that influence the health of an ecosystem?

    3. How do natural disasters affect ecosystems? (Specific focus on wildfires)

    4. What would increase or decrease the risk of wildfires in central Washington? 

    5. How do humans negatively and positively affect an ecosystem to fit their wants and needs?

    6. How does Washington’s location and physical geography affect both the local and global economy? 

    7. What is the role of local government and federal governments in land management? 

     

    ClimeTime Inquiry

     

    Compelling Question

    Standards

    MS-ESS3-2 Earth and Human Activity: Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects. 

    MS-ESS3-3 Earth and Human Activity: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. 

    MS-LS2-4 Ecosystems Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. 

    E1: Understands that people have to make choices between wants and needs and evaluates the outcomes of those choices. (WA) By considering alternative choices for economic decisions made by groups and individuals, one can evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs of those decisions.

    E2: Understands how economic systems function. (WA) Washington’s location and geographic regions affect the production of goods and the state’s role in the global economy. Sample question, How does Washington’s location and physical geography impact its economy? 

    C4: Understands civic involvement. (WA) Voting, civil discourse, education in and critical thinking and assessment of the issues, and understanding the function and purpose of government are important to be a good citizen. Sample Question, How can you people make political change in their local community? 

    Staging the Compelling Question

    Students will complete a notice/ wonder graphic organizer that reflects on their observations of different central Washington state wildfire data. Sources include many maps of highly affected areas as well as different personal recollections of wildfire events. Students will also have the opportunity to share their own personal reactions to wildfires.




     

    Supporting Question 1

     

    Supporting Question 2

     

    Supporting Question 3

     

    Supporting Question 4

    What are the ecosystems of central Washington state?

     

    What are factors that influence the health of an ecosystem?

     

    How do natural disasters affect ecosystems? (Specific focus on wildfires)

     

    What would increase or decrease the risk of wildfires in central Washington? 

    Formative
    Performance Task

     

    Formative

    Performance Task

     

    Formative

    Performance Task

     

    Formative
    Performance Task

    Students will research the different central Washington ecosystems.

     

    Students will  have a discussion about what is needed for a healthy ecosystem. 

     

    Students will revisit the data and sources  from the notice and wonder activity. Students will want to focus on what were the causes for the different fires, and how those fires impacted the ecosystems. 

     

    Students will do a jig-saw reading strategy of the different NewsELA readings on positives and negatives of wildfires as well as the increase and decrease of wildfire risk. Most readings are general but some are specific to Washington state. 

    Featured Sources

     

    Featured Sources

     

    Featured Sources

     

    Featured Sources

    Source A: 

    Washington Native Plant Society Page on Ecosystems

     

    Source B: 

    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Ecosystems in Washington  

     

    Source A:

    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Ecosystems in Washington

     

    Source A: 

    See Notice and Wonder Source List Below

     

    Source B:

    History of Wildfires in Washington State

     

    Source A: 

    The roles of wildfires in an ecosystem

     

    Source B: 

    Ten ways the climate change can make wildfires worse

     

    Source C: 

    Wildfires: How do they form, and why are they so dangerous?

     

    Source D: 

    Research study shows humans are responsible for 84% of wildfires

    Source E: 

    The ecological benefits of wildfires 

     

    Supporting Question 5

     

    Supporting Question 6

     

    Supporting Question 7

     

    How do humans negatively and positively affect an ecosystem to fit their wants and needs?

     

    How does Washington’s location and physical geography affect both the local and global economy? 

     

    What is the role of local government and federal governments in land management? 

     

    Formative
    Performance Task

     

    Formative

    Performance Task

     

    Formative

    Performance Task

     

    Students will understand the impact we have on the land around us. Students will work in individual or small groups to start with to track what they think wants and needs are on a larger scale.

     

    Students will explore the impact geography has on economic activities, namely agriculture.


     
     

    Students will explore the different government agents to find which different government groups control the land in the local area. 

     

    Featured Sources

     

    Featured Sources

     

    Featured Sources

     

    Source A: Department of Ecology, Washington State.

     

    Source B: Okanogan County Public Utility District 

     

    Source A: Okanogan Country Web Page 

     

    Source A: U.S Department of the
    Interior Bureau of Land Management

    Source B: Forest Service, U.S Department of Agriculture 

    Source C: Intro to Federal Public Lands in the U.S

     

     

    Summative Performance Task 

    ARGUMENT 



     

    EXTENSION



     

    Taking Informed Action

    UNDERSTAND 

    ASSESS 

    ACT 



     

    Overview

    Inquiry Description

    Students will be exploring the idea of ecosystems and wildfires. They will become familiar with what an ecosystem is and how to keep them healthy. Students will also see the positive and negative effects of wildfires on ecosystems. Also how wildfires influence the local government and federal government when it comes to land management.

    Structure of the Inquiry 

    In addressing the compelling question, “How much of a role should humans have in preventing wildfires in central Washington?” students work through a series of supporting questions, formative performance tasks, and featured sources in order to construct an argument with evidence while acknowledging competing perspectives.

     

    Staging the Compelling Question

    Students will complete a notice and wonder graphic organizer that will also have a section for sharing personal stories/ experiences about wildfires using the sources below. 

    What do you notice and wonder about the following graphs and stories of wildfires in Washington state?  

    Example of a Notice and Wonder Graphic Organizer is below:













     

    Name: 


     

    Notice 

    Wonder

     

    Personal story about wildfires, and or your reflection on the stories shared. 








     

    Notice and Wonder Activity Sources List: 

    Sources for Maps: 

     

    This is New York Times article, Fire Map: California, Oregon and Washington by: Matthew Bloch, Scott Reinhard, Lucy Tompkins, Bryan Pietsch and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, lasted edited Oct. 2020

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/fires-map-tracker.html

    • Use the first graph that shows all of the 3 states, looking at active, burned and previously burned areas. Use the last graph on the page that is specific to Washington state, including Cold Springs and Pearl Hill Fires. 

     

    Washington Geospatial Open Data Portal. Specifically looking at Washington state large fires between 1973-2020

    https://geo.wa.gov/datasets/6f31b076628d4f8ca5a964cbefd2cccc_0?geometry=-128.135%2C46.067%2C-112.315%2C48.671  

    • Students will explore this resource to see the magnitude of fires throughout the years in Washington state. 

     

    Source for Story: 

    https://www.q13fox.com/news/porcupine-rescued-from-wildfire-near-bridgeport-on-the-mend

     

    Supporting Question 1

     

    What are the ecosystems of central Washington state?

    *Students should have prior knowledge of what biotic and abiotic factors are.

    Students will research and record facts (such as type, climate, location, animals, plants, etc.) on the different central Washington ecosystems using the Washington Native Plant Society page and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife webpages.


     

    Supporting Question 1

    Featured Source 

    Source A: Washington Native Plants Society Webpage 

     

    The Washington Native Plant Society Web Page lists out the different ecosystems of Washington State. Students should specifically look into the ponderosa ecosystem, and shrub-steppe ecosystem. There is also another link that could be helpful at the end of the shrub-steppe ecosystem section. 


     

    Source: https://www.wnps.org/ecosystems Native Plant Society Webpage, last updated: Wednesday, March 27 2019 

     

    Supporting Question 1

    Featured Source 

    Source B: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

     

    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Web Page lists out the different ecosystems of Washington State. Students should specifically look into the tab labeled Lesson 5: Shrubsteppe, and Lesson 6: Ponderosa Pine Woodlands. There are multiple links throughout the lesson tabs that could be used to explore more. 

    Source: https://wdfw.wa.gov/get-involved/educational-resources/ecosystems#:~:text=Washington%20has%20a%20tremendous%20diversity,scablands%20of%20the%20Columbia%20Plateau. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 







     

    Supporting Question 2

    What are factors that influence the health of an ecosystem?

     

    *Make sure to use whatever resources or lessons you have to fit this topic. 

     

    Students will visit the Washington Department of  Fish and Wildlife page and use their lesson on making your own ecosystem in a jar lesson. Then have the discussion about what is needed for a healthy ecosystem. There is also an informative video on the page called “Ecosystems Episode 1: What is an Ecosystem?”.

     

    Supporting Question 2

    Featured Source 

    Source A: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

     

    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage has a tab called Lesson 1: What makes a healthy ecosystem? There is a video and information on how to make a healthy ecosystem in a jar. 

    Source: https://wdfw.wa.gov/get-involved/educational-resources/ecosystems#:~:text=Washington%20has%20a%20tremendous%20diversity,scablands%20of%20the%20Columbia%20Plateau

     

    Supporting Question 3

     

    How do natural disasters affect ecosystems? (Specific focus on wildfires)

    Students will again revisit the data and sources  from the notice and wonder activity. Students will want to focus on what were the causes for the different fires, and how those fires impacted the ecosystems. 

     

    Another good activity to do is play the “Oh Deer” Game. You can either play the card game or you can go outside and play with the students. There is also a stop disasters game that students can  play that shows how wildfires affect the city. Students are tasked with objectives that need to be met, like building houses, protecting water towers, and clearing dry brush. 

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source 

    Source A: See list of Notice and Wonder Sources above in the staging of the question section. 

     

    Students will use these sources to explore and observe how the different fires impacted the ecosystem. Specifically the acreage, causes, location, etc. 

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source 

    Source B: History of Forest Fires in Washington State 

     

    Students will read this article to explore the history of forest fires in Washington state. They should include information from this article in their notes/ observations with the previous resource. 

    https://newsela.com/read/lib-forest-fires-washington/id/43567/?collection_id=339 History of Forest Fires in Washington State 



     

    Supporting Question 4

     

    What would increase or decrease the risk of wildfires in central Washington? 

     

    Students will do a jig-saw reading strategy of the different NewsELA readings on positives and negatives of wildfires as well as the increase and decrease of wildfire risk. Most readings are general but some are specific to Washington state. Students will break up into groups to become “experts” on their reading, finding the main ideas. They will then take this information back to another group to be shared out. 


     

    Supporting Question 4

    Featured Source 

    Source A: The Role of Wildfires in an Ecosystem 

     

    In this reading students will gain the knowledge of the fire triangle, as well as negative and positives of wildfires. 

    https://newsela.com/read/govt-science-wildfires/id/24569/?collection_id=339&search_id=5e6828b0-06f8-424c-aa48-078293921ac2 The Role of Wildfires in an Ecosystem, NewsELA Math and Science Section. 

     

    Supporting Question 4

    Featured Source 

    Source B: Ten Ways Climate Change Can Make Wildfires Worse 

     

    In this reading students will gain the knowledge of how human activities and climate change are cause wildfire activity to increase. 

    https://newsela.com/read/elem-ways-climate-change-makes-wildfires-worse/id/45259/?collection_id=339&search_id=14ca0e0c-6a08-4e9f-a99f-ff9f9c26a747 Ten Ways Climate Change Can Make Wildfires Worse, NewsELA, Science Section 

     

    Supporting Question 4

    Featured Source 

    Source C: Wildfires: How They Form, and Why They are so Dangerous. 

     

    In this reading students will gain knowledge of how wildfires form and how those wildfires affect both humans and wildlife. 

     

    https://newsela.com/read/natgeo-wildfire-dangers/id/2000002413/?collection_id=339&search_id=34d9be99-d432-4128-85f6-a1168b707979  Wildfires: How They Form, and Why They are so Dangerous, NewsELA Science and Math Section 


     

    Supporting Question 4

    Featured Source 

    Source D: Research Study Shows Humans are Responsible for 84% of Wildfires

     

    In this reading students will gain the knowledge of the overview of 20 years of federal and state records outlining the causes of wildfires. 

     

    https://newsela.com/read/wildfires-humans/id/27524/?search_id=51eff8c3-949b-420b-b873-0ff53ae9e4bd Research study shows humans are responsible for 84% of wildfires, NewsELA, Science Section 

     

    Supporting Question 4

    Featured Source 

    Source E: Ecological Benefits of Fire

     

    In this reading students will gain the knowledge of how wildfires can have a positive effect on an ecosystem. 

     

    https://newsela.com/read/natgeo-ecological-fire-benefits/id/2001014195/?search_id=1a1adb55-d46e-4180-90d5-4a194fc366e4 Ecological Benefits of Fire, NewsELA, Science and Math Section 


     

    Supporting Question 5

    How do humans negatively and positively affect an ecosystem to fit their wants and needs?

    Students will combine prior knowledge of ecosystems with the realities of human life and what we need from the environment to survive.  The goal of this question is to help  students understand the impact we have on the land around us.

     

    Students will work in individual or small groups to start with to track what they think wants and needs are on a larger scale. Then working from the sources they will decide if those negatively or positively affect the ecosystem. To make this work locally you could use your local power district and state information on climate.


     

    Supporting Question 5

    Featured Source 

    Source A: Department of Ecology, Washington State, Climate Change Increases Wildfire Risk

     

    This webpage gives information about human influences on an ecosystem and how those can increase climate change and wildfire risks. 

    https://ecology.wa.gov/Air-Climate/Climate-change/Climate-change-the-environment/Wildfire-risks 

     

    Supporting Question 5

    Featured Source 

    Source B: Okanogan County Public Utility District, PUD Bill Increases Funds Project 

     

    *Make sure to use local power distinct information for your area

    This webpage gives information in infrastructure projects upgrades in our region to help prevent and or fix wildfire damages  

     

    https://www.okanoganpud.org/node/1388 PUD Bill Increases Funds Project, By Sheilac, Friday 02/26/2021 


     

    Supporting Question 6

    How does Washington’s location and physical geography affect both the local and global economy? 

    Students will explore the impact geography has on economic activities, namely agriculture.

     

    Students will work individually or in small groups to explore and record the various economic activities in their local area and how they connect (if they do) to the larger global economy.

     

    An emphasis will be placed on how climate, geography and location play a role in the selection of economic activities. 


     

    Supporting Question 6

    Featured Source 

    Source A: Okanogan Country

     

    Students will use this page to explore all the recreational options in our county. Students will be looking through the tabs, and picture tiles on camping, hiking, birds/ wildlife, etc. 

    https://okanogancountry.com/ Okanogan Country 

     

    Supporting Question 7

    What is the role of local government and federal governments in land management?

    Students will explore the different government agents to find which different government groups control the land in the local area. 

     

    Emphasis will be placed on helping students understand how many different groups are involved with managing the land by mapping a map that shows who runs what land. 


     

    Supporting Question 7

    Featured Source 

    Source A: U.S Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management 

     

    Students will use this source to how lands are managed and by whom. Specific emphasis on the land records tab, and Oregon/Washington’s National Conservation Lands tabs. 

    https://www.blm.gov/oregon-washington U.S Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management 

     

    Supporting Question 7

    Featured Source 

    Source B: Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture 

     

    Students will use this source to how lands are managed and by whom. Specific emphasis on the Managing the Land tab. 

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/ Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture 

     

    Supporting Question 7

    Featured Source 

    Source C: Intro to Federal Public Lands in the U.S

     

    Students will use this source to how lands are managed and by whom. Specifically this website gives information about the history of federal land and public lands in The United States. 

    https://blog.nols.edu/blog/blog-new/2016/08/30/intro-federal-public-lands Intro to Federal Public Lands in the U.S By. NOLS September 24th, 2020

     

    Summative Performance Task

    The summative task for the end of this unit is an argumentative essay. Students will be writing an introduction paragraph, with 2 supporting body paragraphs (their strongest reasons for their position). Next will come the 3rd paragraph that contains the counterclaim or rebuttal. Lastly, the conclusion. Students will use facts and research gathered from previous lessons to support their claim and position. 

    *Make sure to connect with your ELA department to see what works well for an argumentative essay in your district/ school

     

    Student answers will vary, but could include that humans should play a big role in preventing wildfires, or no role in preventing wildfires, with also thoughts in between. 

     

    Except where otherwise noted, this original work by NCESD (Amanda Jenkins and Brendan Bermea) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective owners. View license at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/This resource may contain links to websites operated by third parties. These links are provided for your convenience only and do not constitute or imply any endorsement or monitoring.