K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • gain a better understanding of the effects of acid rain on their environment.
  • learn data collection and recording skills.
  • correlate individual data and create a group presentation for the class.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3–4 days


Teacher will provide:

  • the same type of healthy plant, one per group of three to four students. (One of which will be used as a control.)
  • a bottle of lemon juice
  • Eye droppers, one per group of students
  • Litmus paper
  • containers with lids, one per group of students
  • container of pure water which has a pH of 7
  • poster paper and markers/colored pencils/crayons as needed for each group’s presentations


  • Teacher introduction on an Acid Rain Lesson coupled with illustrations showing the negative effects of acid rain on the environment.
  • KWL or other graphic organizers to assess the students prior knowledge. See K-W-L Worksheet.
  • Directions on plant watering and data entry. See Pre-Activities Worksheet.
  • Students will water plants every other day.
  • Journal Entries Worksheet for students to record data.


  1. After the two-week period of preparation, students will correlate their individual data within their group; draw or graph an appropriate visual aid; and develop an oral presentation for the class. Each member of the group must contribute to the final product.
  2. Groups will have time to practice their presentations.
  3. Each group will have five minutes to present their findings to the class.


Detailed journal entries at two day intervals during a two week period comparing the condition of their plant with others in the class as well as the control group. See Journal Rubric.

Group oral presentations and visual aids on how acid levels affect plant developmnent. Visual aids would include plant drawings, graphs, or other appropriate materials. Group presentations will be graded using a rubric. See Presentation Rubric.

Supplemental information



The Intermediate Low English Language Learner (IL ELL) will be allowed to write short journal entries or to draw pictures instead of using detailed written descriptions.

The IL ELL will be able to draw and label for the group presentation.

Alternative assessments

  • Short accurate written descriptions and/or drawings that are a reflection of the condition of the plant.
  • The IL ELL will listen and speak within the group. The student will listen and respond correctly to the teacher’s directions.
  • The teacher will orally question the IL ELL to assess understanding of the journaling process and understanding of what is happening to the plant. Student will respond orally.
  • Each person in the group must be a part of the final presentation. Drawing, charting, or labeling the results of the experiment rather than speaking before the entire class will be acceptable for the final assessment if the IL ELL student is too shy to speak publically at this point.

Critical vocabulary

acid rain, pollution/pollutants, Litmus paper, pH scale, environment


This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.E.1 Understand how the cycling of matter (water and gases) in and out of the atmosphere relates to Earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate and the effects of the atmosphere on humans. 7.E.1.1 Compare the composition, properties and structure of Earth’s...
      • Grade 8

        • 8.E.1 Understand the hydrosphere and the impact of humans on local systems and the effects of the hydrosphere on humans. 8.E.1.1 Explain the structure of the hydrosphere including: Water distribution on earth Local river basins and water availability 8.E.1.2...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Development (2005)

  • Objective 0.01: Listen to stories or information and identify key details and concepts through verbal and non-verbal responses.
  • Objective 0.01: Begin to use some words, phrases, and sentences representing new vocabulary.
  • Objective 0.04: Participate in and demonstrate comprehension of short oral academic presentations through topic-related questions and answers.
  • Objective 0.04: Produce simple paragraphs on familiar topics using common language structures, which may contain some errors, with assistance (e.g., such as personal letters, brief journal entries, and short reports).
  • Objective 0.05: Use and respond correctly to yes/no questions and some open-ended questions on familiar topics, including content-based material.
  • Objective 0.06: Begin to retell information acquired through reading and/or listening.
  • Science (2005)

    Grade 7

    • Goal 1: The learner will design and conduct investigations to demonstrate an understanding of scientific inquiry.
      • Objective 1.08: Use oral and written language to:
        • Communicate findings.
        • Defend conclusions of scientific investigations.
    • Goal 3: The learner will conduct investigations and utilize appropriate technologies and information systems to build an understanding of the atmosphere.
      • Objective 3.03: Conclude that the good health of environments and organisms requires:
        • The monitoring of air quality.
        • Taking steps to maintain healthy air quality.
        • Stewardship.