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Media Literacy


6th, 7th, 8th


English Language Arts


300 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Sustainable Solutions to the Petroleum Agenda

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Feb 20, 2024
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In this lesson, students engage in critical media literacy investigating the impacts of petroleum extraction, and promote sustainable alternatives.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students explore the impacts of petroleum extraction and analyze two different media literacy forms that promote petroleum-based products.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students conduct research on how a product’s components are derived from petroleum and find a sustainable alternative for the same or similar product.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students reflect on how consumer choices can impact the environment and create a media message to promote the sustainable product from their research.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students engage and interact with multimedia and develop critical media literacy skills.

  • Students participate in hands-on learning to aid in understanding and participation.

  • Students participate in group discussions to share diverse ideas and perspectives.

  • Students have agency and choice over their culminating project and next steps to display their work further.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This lesson is designed to be taught as a multi-day lesson in five parts. The Multi-Day Schedule Visual provides appropriate stopping points.

  • Students should have some background knowledge about petroleum and should know that it is a broad category that includes both crude oil and petroleum products.


  • The culminating project can be completed independently, in pairs, or in small groups. Teachers may choose to allow students to work individually based on students' preferences and needs.

  • Worksheets may be completed individually, in mixed-ability groups, or as a whole group led by the teacher.

  • Videos may be paused and discussed in short segments.

Scientist Notes

The effects of petroleum exploration on the environment and human health are covered in this lesson for the pupils. Petroleum drilling is typically done on Native territories, in low-income areas, and in Black neighborhoods. Since unsustainable oil extraction will endanger lives and communities, the course is aimed to give students the tools they need to develop media and advocacy messages that would encourage systemic change. This lesson passed our science review process after all the materials were fact-checked.


Primary Standards

  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.5 Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.

Supporting Standards

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.3.6-8 Use paper-based and electronic mapping and graphing techniques to represent and analyze spatial patterns of different environmental and cultural characteristics.
  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Visual Arts: Standard 2 - Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
      • VA:Cr2.3.8a Select, organize, and design images and words to make visually clear and compelling presentations.
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  • As the creator of this lesson, I am eager to share how this played out in my classroom. I taught this lesson over the course of 2 weeks as I added additional pre-requisites to the fracking component. I showed a video on YouTube that demonstrated how fracking works with visuals so students could see all the "behind the scenes" and we discussed the petroleum refineries. I teach specifically an environmental science course so I had a lot of room to expand this into a unit. Students were really into the media component. I noticed a significant increase in engagement as opposed to our usual readings and science centered videos. They kept wanting to re-read Petro Pete and re-watch the commercial to catch every little detail. We compared it to other advertisements to make connections on marketing tactics like the McDonalds jingle and logo favorites. Students were super into exploring this. I gave students 2 full days of creation time. There was so much excitement buzzing in the classroom! In the lesson, 1 day is allocated but if you have the time, definitely spare it toward creating! The lesson doesn't account for how long the action plan can take. For my students, the next 2 days will be allocated toward this project. They are going to be writing emails with their advertisements attached to the sustainable companies they created ads for and requesting samples of their products to share with their classmates. Additionally, this was a great segway into another potential unit. One student spoke up during research and asked, "How can we know if these companies are doing what they actually say they're doing with sustainability? What if they're making it up?" This led to another students suggesting we ask for their sustainability reports if they are not listed on the website. I am encouraged to introduce green washing to them following our action plan! It was amazing to witness the student agency in this project and the meaningful inquiries that came from it!
    10 months ago