The Story of Bottled Water is a video by Annie Leonard and Free Range Studios (of The Story of Stuff fame) on the issue of bottled water. It is relatively short (about 8 minutes) and the language is fairly accessible. They also offer an annotated script that students could read along with.
Anthony Lavigne (LinkedIn) has put together a great lesson plan based on this video and he’s given me permission to share it here. (Thanks Anthony!) The lesson begins by asking students to discuss their own bottled water consumption in groups. I like this as a starting point, as I think that making the connections between these issues and our students’ everyday lives is extremely important. Next, he goes into a taste test activity. I really like this idea. This is a simple, concrete way to get students to look critically at something they “know” — namely that bottled water tastes better than tap water.
For homework, Anthony has students look at a vocab list from the video and write their opinions of the statements on the Myth v. Reality handout. Day 2 begins with students sharing their opinions, then they watch the video. For homework, he has students read the annotated script and revise their writing.
On the third day, students again share what they’ve written in groups. During the wrap-up discussion, Anthony also includes a slideshow illustrating some of the environmental consequences of plastic bags. The work of photographer Chris Jordan (particularly his Midway series) would fit in well here, too. Finally, Anthony offers ideas for follow-up projects. He suggests four group activities — researching plastic recycling facilities in the community, researching the local water supply, raising awareness about some of the problems with plastic, and raising awareness about water conservation. You could also have students experiment with actions such as going a week (or more) without purchasing a single-serving beverage. Personally, I really like connecting awareness raising with everyday actions. For example, modified version of my individual action project would fit nicely at the end of this unit.
Most of the materials used in this activity can be found in the lesson plan. This includes a detailed explanation of the lesson, discussion questions, a vocabulary handout, and assessment sheets for the optional project. The remaining materials, including the video, the annotated script and the Myth v. Reality handout, are all available from the Story of Stuff website.
In places where bottled water is a luxury, this is a great activity for getting students to look critically at how their consumption impacts the environment. It would also be good as part of a unit on advertising or consumerism. Thank you Anthony for sharing this!
If anyone else has materials they would like to share, please don’t hesitate to email me.