Our essential question for the official, textbook related “environment” chapter in our Spanish 3 class is “How does the natural world impact you (human beings)? How do you (human beings) impact the natural world? This question, of course, unnaturally plucks humans out of the natural world. Part of what we discover during the course of the unit–I hope–is that we are part of the ecosystem in which we live–rather than living “on top of” the ecosystem as we often imagine ourselves to be.
To reinforce the systems approach to our relationship with the natural world, I used the fenómenos chart found on page 6 of the folleto riesgos parte 1 produced by the makers of Riesgolandia. This chart has the advantage of being simple, visual and relatively short. It also ties together some of the weather and geography vocabulary we had been learning from the textbook and the short story Una Carta a Dios.
I created this worksheet to provide some structure for our reflections and followed the think-pair-share model for many of the activities. Students were asked to consider the geographical features associated with the fenómenos, and then what fenómenos can result from other fenómenos on the chart. Un incendio, for example, can lead to deforestación and contaminación del aire. Deforestación can lead to deslizamientos, etc. Another way to do this would be to put these on the board or project to a smartboard and have students draw arrows.
Students can also indicate which fenómenos could be caused by human activity. We eventually concluded that they all could be caused by humans. Even tormentas eléctricas and huracanes can be impacted by global warming and a recent study in Oklahoma concluded that terremotos can potentially be provoked by certain techniques used in drilling for oil and hydraulic fracking. Plagas have multiple causes, including sequías and/or the introduction of invasive species by humans. As this news report from November 2012 describes, a sequía in Mexico led to a plaga of beetles that now is causing deforestación. Plagas of beetles have also attacked large swaths of pine forest ecosystems in Montana.
Here’s a mini-project for students to explore and share specific examples of the above in a communicative context.(past tenses verb practice: present perfect indicative, present perfect subjunctive preterit, imperfect)