Lesson Plan: Green Energy in Haywood County

  • Students will understand the social and economic impact of managing and implementing conservation projects
  • Students will understand the financial, geographic, and social impacts and be able to navigate those issues in planning and designing projects that capture natural resources for the population’s energy needs on a long-term basis
  • Students will be able to research the engineering and scientific data necessary to design and identify the best natural resources to use in a given area
Sandra HermidaEnvironmental Science8th2 weeks



8.P.2: Explain the environmental implications associated with the various methods of obtaining, managing and using energy resources.

8.P.2.1: Explain the environmental consequences of the various methods of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy.

8.P.2.2: Explain the implications of the depletion of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources and the importance of conservation.

Cross-Curricular Competencies (CCC)

  • Students will understand the social impacts of land use and recognize the disproportionate displacement of socioeconomic groups in land use as learned in social studies
  • Students will use scale and use graphs to interpret data for economic determination and use of graphic detail for understanding placement of renewable resources
  • Students will have to read nonfiction text and interpret legal and county zoning to determine placement and real-estate values for identification of specific sites for placement. This includes reading into potential tax breaks and grant funding for the implementation of renewable resource plans
  • Students will write proposals and draft ideas for presentation to community members for the placement, implementation, and maintenance of the renewable resources and associated natural resources

Learning Outcomes

8.P.2.1 Explain the environmental consequences of the various methods of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy.

8.P.2.2.Explain the implications of the depletion of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources and the importance of conservation.

ISTE 1.4 Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts 

and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others. 

1.4a Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits. 

1.4b Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data or other resources. 

1.4c Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create  

collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions. 

1.4d Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and 

pursuing answers and solutions. 

ISTE 1.5 Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems. 

1.5a Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of 

technological methods to develop and test solutions. 

1.5b formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions. 

1.5c Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making. 

1.5d Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving. 

1.5e Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and  test automated solutions.

Enduring Understandings

  • As Earth’s human population grows, the need for natural resources increases
  • Students will understand how conservation and sustainable practices contribute to the stewardship of our environment for future populations
  • Students will understand the economic impacts of large infrastructure projects that balance economic, environmental, and socioeconomic 
  • All organisms on Earth, including humans, use energy derived from resources provided by the environment
  • Renewable resources are replaced through natural processes at a rate that is equal to or greater than the rate at which they are being used.
  • Natural resources can be depleted or used to the point that they are–in effect–no longer available.
  • Students might misunderstand that:
    • renewable resources have negative impacts as well energy consumption and the depletions of resources has long term effects on health, climate, and the environment
    • If renewable resources are used at an increasing rate so that they cannot be naturally replaced fast enough, they too can be depleted
    • Conservation involves preventing the loss of a resource by way of thoughtful management of it. Increased human consumption can have long-term consequences

Essential Questions

  • How can Haywood County implement more sustainable energy resources?
  • What kind of planning and resources are needed to implement and sustain renewable energy in communities?
  • How can building and implementing renewable energy plants and resources benefit your community?
  • Are some communities more or less impacted, both positively and negatively by building and supporting renewable energy options in a community?
  • How can we plan and build a renewable resource plant that is scale-able to other communities and meets the needs of various socioeconomic groups while being sensitive to land use of residents and possible historic communities?


  • Students will know how conservation and renewable energy can benefit a community environmentally, economically, and socially
  • Students will learn communication and collaboration skills working with a larger group to create and construct a proposal for an idea
  • Students will learn how to present ideas in a relevant and professional manner to a panel for approval


Students will acquire communication and conflict resolution skills. 

This will partially come from the ability to fire team members. They can do this after group discussion, formal presentation of the concern and possibility of being fired to a team member, and the supporting documentation they need to present. 


Performance Task 

Through what authentic performance task will students demonstrate the desired understandings, knowledge, and skills? By what criteria will performances of understanding be judged?

GRASPS Elements of the Performance Task


Students should be able to identify all of the factors that are needed in planning and implementing a renewable resource facility. For this assignment, they are asked to focus on wind, water, or solar energy. They should be able to create proposals that address land use and impacts, economic impacts and costs, community/social impacts–negative and positive, and feasibility of the proposed energy resource in that area.

Students will also be able to explain how and why non-renewable resources should be conserved and may impact climate change, as well as how renewable resources are plentiful and serve as a form of stewardship and conservation in communities, though not without negative impacts.

R – Role

Students will choose whether they wish to represent the perspective of those proposing the benefits to the community or represent the perspective of those who are against the building and implementation of renewable energy. Six groups will be in place: three groups for the proposal and three groups against the proposal. 

A – Audience

The relevant audience is community members (stakeholders), county planners, business development, local land and forest managers, fish and wildlife, and likely others.

S – Situation

Students are able to research the feasibility, expenses, impacts, and implementation.

P – Product, Performance

Students will create three products: 1) A journal document for assigning roles, saving references, communication, and ordering tasks, 2) A presentation in the form of a google slide, power point, or a Canva presentation, and 3) a final written proposal report that will be the guideline for the presentation proposal.

S – Standards & Criteria for Success

Download rubric and handouts here.

Other Evidence

  • Students will have a working document in which they monitor and track roles, tasks, and progress. This will function as a team journal for communication and project tracking accountability as a group. 
  • Students will have a quiz mid-project, addressing vocabulary.
  • Students will have three check-ins on their personal research document with guidance from the teacher on direction of research and identification of gaps or strengths.
  • Students will go over and practice the presentation for feedback before the presentation of the final proposal to the panel.
  • The final summative assessment will be the written proposal document.

Student Self-Assessment

  • Students will be able to fire group members if they are not performing up to standards. However, if they choose to fire someone they must:

         1) Provide warning to the student and provide opportunity to improve.

         2) Provide documentation and valid reasons for firing a team member.

  • Students will peer-review each other in the group to be a part of their overall grade on the project. These will be private and not shared with other students to promote honest evaluation.
  • Students are required to come up with a minimum of one question for the other groups, promoting reflection on other alternative resources.
  • Students will have a Reflection question as an assignment on Google Classroom where they reflect on best/worst practices from the project and have to respond to another student reflecting on their experience of the project.

Learning Plan

Learning environment:

  • Students are intended to research and learn the impact of conservation and stewardship of our area both for economic and environmental preservation as a tourist and vacation destination. Frequent check-ins and questions will make sure students are looking at the big picture of energy and environment and the impacts on the community’s future as well as their own. Students are involved in inter and intra-group discussions to check in and frequently engage in expected and unexpected outcomes from their research and questions. 
  • Students are grouped into teams based on proposal subject (wind, hydro-, or solar power) and then grouped together on subtype, i.e. environment, economic, social components. This allows group discussion and the instructor to more easily meet with groups and individuals within a group.

How will you engage students at the beginning of the unit?

Students are engaged by discussing current renewable energy resources in the area, what they have seen in their travels, and by sharing pictures I have taken of places I have been that have and use renewable energy facilities. We also discuss anyone they know that may have or use a renewable energy source. 

We will begin by discussing and looking up future jobs in the renewable energy market, pay rates, and educational needs. This is the hook that engages and gets students thinking of non-traditional renewable energy sources: methane gas production, geothermal, solar, and even the use of scraps for energy sources. We will discuss and share innovative ideas from the large scale to the backyard enthusiasts that want to live off grid and how they power and conserve in their home and on their land.

Lesson 1

Do you use (or know someone that uses) Renewable energy?

Lesson ActivitiesCCCs


The unit is introduced through discussion in class of students experienced with renewable energy sources. Do they know anyone that uses renewable energy, and in what form? Have they traveled to a place where it is used more? So, we have renewable energy resources functioning in Haywood County. Discussion of careers in this field, what may you need to know to do jobs in this field.Pictures of residents in Haywood County with solar panels, Haywood County Walters Dam and the solar farm in Bethel.

Lesson 2

Potential Green Energy Sources for Haywood County

Learning ActivitiesResources
Students will read as an introduction to three renewable energy sources that they may propose to introduce and build in Haywood County. 

  • Solar: already in place on individual homes and a small farm in the Bethel Community
  • Hydropower: Currently one operating hydroelectric dam
  • Wind: not yet introduced to the area
Need Energy Infobooks

Lesson 3

Pre-quiz of energy conservation vocabulary

Learning ActivitiesResources
  • Assessing students’ performance and vocabulary comprehension learning during research.
Energy Vocab Pre-Quiz

Lesson 4

Students are introduced to the Project

Lesson ActivitiesCCCs


Students review expectations in class and look at the assignment, along with what a project proposal looks like. Two videos are included to show them what a project proposal on energy might encompass and what a general project proposal encompasses.
  • Computer Science
  • Math
  • Speech
  • Social Communications
Classroom Assignment and details

Proposal Video

Energy Proposal Video

Lesson 5

Brainstorm and Organize

Learning ActivitiesResources
  • Students start by creating a MindMiester brainstorm. They are instructed to use this as a tool for brainstorming ideas for their topics as well as a way to delve into and identify personal interests for what roles they will take in the project. 
  • Students will be encouraged to use this as a way to brainstorm important economic, environmental, and social impacts of implementing a renewable energy plant. Students are also encouraged to use this time as a team building and personal time to investigate and identify personal and team strengths and interests for completing the proposal. 
  • These will be shared with the teacher and added to the student/team spreadsheet.

Lesson 6

Create identified roles and create a communication/planning document with tasks and communal document to save resources.

Learning ActivitiesCCCs
Students create and share a document that has their identified goals, lists of self-appointed and identified tasks, as well as big questions and concerns. Students will use this as a means of communicating and tracking tasks and completion with each other. They will use this as a place to put up lists of needs and missing information for project completion for individual and group expectations.
  • Coordination 
  • Communication
  • Digital sharing of team documents

Lesson 7

Individual Documents

A post-lesson vocabulary quiz is administered to be sure students are engaging with the vocabulary.

Lesson ActivitiesCCCs


  • Once students have identified roles within teams/groups they share the group’s initial document. Students then create and share an individual document where they will do their individual research and tasks.
  • Teams will also share their teams presentation format as well as the group final proposal that the team will submit and present to the evaluating panel. Students share these with the teacher to be linked into a monitoring spreadsheet.
  • Students will have multiple check-ins and discussions with the teacher to monitor progress, assess learning objective accomplishment, and support ongoing questions and research for the final proposal.
  • Digital Learning
    and research
  • Math/Scale
  • Economics
  • Tax/Government/Social Studies and City Planning
Student Spreadsheet

bit.ly for spreadsheet

Post Vocab Quiz

Lesson 8

Project proposal: Written and Presentation

Learning ActivitiesResource
  • 3-4 days before presentations to the panel, students will rehearse their presentation. Students are encouraged to create note cards and make sure they are not reading cards/the screen when presenting. This gives students the last few days to fill in gaps, refine visuals, and finalize their presentation (choice of google slides or Canva).
  • This also gives them time to edit and proofread the written proposal, which will be more detailed and refined. Canva can also be used by teams to create flyers/info pages/or the gifted addition of a secondary product to give the panel during the presentation.

Lesson 9

Final Presentation

  • Students present in front of a panel of 5 individuals. This panel is made up of engineers, energy experts, climate experts, and environmental specialists, as well as city planners. 
  • Students also have questions for the other groups to ask after the presentation for discussion. Students present the presentation proposal and share the final written proposal as well. 
  • Any secondary products they wish to share or have created will also be shared to the panel.

Lesson 10

Students reflect and peer review

Learning ActivitiesResources
  • Students are asked to reflect on the project, identifying personal best and worst parts of the team project. They are also instructed to engage and respond to at least one other response.
  • Students also complete peer evaluation forms that are done anonymously and part of each individual grade.

Student Reflection

Peer Evaluation

Lesson 11

Final Grade

Learning ActivitiesResources
  • Students’ final written proposal is evaluated as a summative assessment of the standards for 8th grade energy as listed previously. 
  • Students are also given a short summative quiz intended to reflect questions similar to what may appear on the State End Of Grade Test.
Energy Post Assessment

Assess and Reflect

Students are monitored and interviewed periodically for personal and group tasks progress. This allows for monitoring and reflection of individuals, groups, and research dynamics showing outcomes of the final project and what they learn by working in a big group as well as individual learning and research.

For struggling students:

  • Students are given an organizer and specific questions to be answered on individual research documents. 
  • Students are provided templates for adding individual sections to the final written proposal.
  • Students that are very low are paired on topics with others and work together on individual goals for a paired subtopic in the proposal.

For students who need a challenge:

  • They are asked to include what the next steps of the project are. Once their proposal is implemented what will be the next part of the proposal to adapt to the changing community?
  • How will the project scale up or down for larger communities or smaller communities?
  • Create a template for implementation in other communities.
  • Students are asked to create an additional product to give to the panel for the panel to have a quick reference guide to their proposal.

Instructional Approaches:

  • This unit is both student-centered and teacher-directed. Students work in groups and the teacher holds frequent discussions at a class and group level to guide student learning and make sure understanding is happening as well as guidance in direction to be sure students are hitting important components and critical application components.

Resource Based Learning:

  • Students have access to the library and written documentation
  • Students have access to digital resources
  • Students have access to a cultivated website for support in the classroom, on individual standards, and specific renewable energy resources

FNM/I Content and Perspectives/Gender Equity/Multicultural Education:

  • Students are allowed choice in the role of presentation to accommodate personal interest but also to engage in a meaningful way that is sensitive to their personal beliefs. For instance, students from a background that may oppose renewable energy and environmental/climate impacts are allowed to look at the negative impacts and ways to accommodate their interests into the proposal, as representatives of that voice in the community and the proposal.