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(Recording courtesy of The Walking Classroom Institute. More about the recording)
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In this lesson, The Walking Classroom kids discuss the famous environmentalist and writer, Rachel Carson. They discuss her efforts to advocate for laws to protect our planet from being damaged by dangerous chemicals like pesticides. They also talk about how her famous book Silent Spring eventually influenced our government to start the Environmental Protection Agency and investigate issues like factory pollution.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify the key contributions that Rachel Carson made to the environmental movement
  • discuss how a book like Silent Spring could make a big impact even though companies that produced dangerous chemicals protested against it
  • understand why Rachel Carson was so concerned about chemicals like pesticides

Teacher planning

Time required

This lesson requires about 35 to 40 minutes of class time.

  • Introduction and overview: 5 minutes
  • Walk: 20 to 25 minutes
  • Review and quiz: 5 to 10 minutes

Materials needed

Copies of Rachel Carson comprehension quiz
Pen or pencil

Technology resources

Each student will need an MP3 player with the podcast loaded onto it.

Student handouts

Rachel Carson comprehension quiz
If you want to compare student comprehension before and after listening, administer the Comprehension Quiz before doing anything related to the podcast. Retest after walking.
Open as PDF (116 KB, 1 page)


  1. Review key vocabulary (included definitions are limited to the context of today’s podcast)
    advocate (noun)
    a person who publicly stands up for a cause
    Rachel Carson was an advocate for protecting our planet.
    evidence (noun)
    facts that help prove your case
    The lawyer presented some solid evidence to the jury that helped them make a decision.
    environmentalist (noun)
    Someone who wants to protect and preserve our natural environment
    You can be an environmentalist every time you recycle!
  2. Build background by asking students, “Have you ever heard of anyone being an environmentalist? What do environmentalists do, and what do you think they want us to do?”
    (allow time for discussion)
  3. Podcast preview: “Today we’re going to learn more about a famous environmentalist named Rachel Carson. She was one of the first people to tell our government that we needed to start thinking about protecting the planet. Ready? Let’s go!”
  4. Walk!
  5. Upon return to the classroom, discuss the main ideas and highlights of the podcast. Main ideas and highlights might include the following:
    • Carson’s work as a marine biologist, environmentalist, advocate, and writer made her a pioneer in her field of environmentalism.
    • Although big factories and chemical companies tried to stop people from listening to her, Rachel Carson advocated for the restriction of harmful chemicals that were polluting and harming the environment.
    • Her book Silent Spring helped ordinary citizens understand what might happen if we continued to ignore environmental issues.
  6. Administer comprehension quiz.


  1. Enthusiastically ask students how they feel post-walk. Foster a healthy attitude toward exercise by reminding students that physical activity improves brain function.
  2. What did you learn about Rachel Carson’s life? What made her so admirable?
  3. Why did her writing make such a big impact? How could one book like Silent Spring be so powerful? Do you have a favorite book that really made you think about something important to you?
  4. Why do you think that some people didn’t want to listen to Rachel Carson? Have you ever been in a situation when people know they are wrong, but refuse to admit it? What happened?


Use the comprehension quiz to assess student understanding of the lesson.


  1. c
  2. b
  3. b
  4. c
  5. a
  6. b
  7. a
  8. c
  9. b
  10. b

Critical vocabulary

advocate (noun)
a person who publicly stands up for a cause
evidence (noun)
facts that help prove your case
environmentalist (noun)
someone who wants to protect and preserve our natural environment


The Walking Classroom is an award-winning, nationally recognized, in-school fitness initiative and obesity intervention that improves health literacy and builds core content knowledge while addressing different learning styles. The method is quite simple: students take brisk 20-minute walks (preferably outside) while listening to specially written and recorded content which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Detailed lesson plans contain defined objectives, discussion questions, and comprehension quizzes for each educational podcast, so that when students return from their walk, the content can be effectively reviewed and synthesized. If you are interested in more educational podcasts for your students, please visit The Walking Classroom website.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 5
          • 5.RL.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.