Lesson Plan

Deforestation in Borneo

Students will practice inquiry skills while investigating the topic of deforestation in Borneo for palm oil.
Jaclyn C.
Classroom teacher
Show More
My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Math, Science
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • describe how deforestation can impact an ecosystem (using terms such as monoculture, habitat, primary growth, secondary growth, etc.)
Grades 9 - 11
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook and Asking Questions

While the class watches this TED Talk about deforestation in Borneo, they should pose questions that they have about the science or situation in an online chat. If teachers use a LMS like Desire2Learn that has an embedded chat function, this would work. Otherwise, a tool like www.todaysmeet.com works great. The teacher can be in this chat area as well, guiding the discussion. I find that I can often seed a few questions that lead the class to the areas of science I would like them to cover (ecosystems, monoculture, climate change, etc.)

Video Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/willie_smits_restores_a_rainforest 

2 Formalizing Research Questions

Google Drive
Free, Paid

Using a Google Doc (shared with students), or a simply word document projected in front of the class, take the questions from the online discussion. Sort the questions to reduce overlaps and choose the most important questions as a class. Once you have as many questions as needed, assign pairs to research a question or two. 

Sample questions: 

  1. What is a monoculture? 
  2. What types of products have palm oil in them? 

3 Research and Documenting

Free, Paid

During this stage, students research their topics. Each pair of students also need to find or create an image that represents their research topic. This is an excellent time to have discussions and workshops about: 

  • sourcing information properly
  • searching for images with a creative commons license or that they can use in school projects (possibly using Google Image or Flickr advanced search functions)
  • annotating images to include the source on them

4 Creation and Sharing


To curate and share your classes learning, students can create a voicethread together. This can be done by having students send or share their images to you. Then, the teacher can put the images into the voicethread and post a link to your class site, blog or post on the board. Pairs of students then find their image in the voicethread and leave an audio recording describing what they have learned about their topic. Using Voicethread, they can also draw on the screen to help explain their topic as needed. 

Sample Voicethread: https://voicethread.com/share/new/4282991/ 

An excellent Global Collaboration project to use with your class after completing this activity is the Taking IT Globals EARTHWATCHERS project.