Stopping Deforestation in the Amazon: A Publicity Campaign

By Kyle Kleckner, November 24, 2009

Grade Level

  • High School


  • City of Neighborhoods

Subject Area

  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

100 Minutes


The Amazonian Rain Forest is one of th e highlights of Amazonian geography.  However, in recent decades this highlight has been quickly disappearing.  This is due in large part to agricultural deforestation by Brazilian farmers.  Why though, is the deforestation occurring?  What are the economic reasons?  Acknowledging the economic necessities, could reforestation be encouraged?

These questions will be addressed in students’ unit projects.  World Geography is a multidisciplinary subject, involving history, sociology, anthropology, ecology, politics, and economics.  This project will give students exposure to each of these areas, while allowing them to design a process to encourage reforestation.

This lesson itself will come at the end of the unit on South America.  Having developed an understanding of the economics and ecology of South America, students will look at possible solutions to deforestation. The focus of this lesson will be on possible solutions to deforestation, and how they could be marketed to Brazilian farmers.  Students will be expected to design a reforestation publicity campaign to seek targeting small-scale Brazilian farmers.  Using the design process, aligned to national and state standards and benchmarks for subject content, students will investigate the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, and use visuals to explain and evaluate their chosen publicity campaign.

National Standards


4. Level IV. Understands the physical and human characteristics of place

3.Knows the locational advantages and disadvantages of using places for different activities based on their physical characteristics (e.g., flood plain, forest, tundra, earthquake zone, river crossing, coastal flood zone)

Standard 7. Level IV. Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on Earth's surface

1.  Understands how physical systems are dynamic and interactive (e.g., the relationships between changes in land forms and the effects of climate such as the erosion of hill slopes by precipitation, deposition of sediments by floods, and shaping of land surfaces by wind)

Standard 9. Level IV. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

1. Understands population issues (e.g., the ongoing policies to limit population growth, the policy in the former Soviet Union to encourage ethnic Russians to have large families, economic considerations such as a country's need for more or fewer workers)

3. Knows how international migrations are shaped by push and pull factors (e.g., political conditions, economic incentives, religious values, family ties)

4. Understands the impact of human migration on physical and human systems (e.g., the impact of European settlers on the High Plains of North America in the nineteenth century, impact of rural-to-urban migration on suburban development and the resulting lack of adequate housing and stress on infrastructure, effects of population gains or losses on socioeconomic conditions)

Standard 14. Level IV. Understands how human actions modify the physical environment

2. Understands the role of humans in decreasing the diversity of flora and fauna in a region (e.g., the impact of acid rain on rivers and forests in southern Ontario, the effects of toxic dumping on ocean ecosystems, the effects of overfishing along the coast of northeastern North America or the Philippine archipelago)

3. Understands the global impacts of human changes in the physical environment (e.g., increases in runoff and sediment, tropical soil degradation, habitat destruction, air pollution; alterations in the hydrologic cycle; increases in world temperatures; groundwater reduction)

Standard 18. Level IV. Understands global development and environmental issues

1. Understands the concept of sustainable development and its effects in a variety of situations (e.g., toward cutting the rain forests in Indonesia in response to a demand for lumber in foreign markets, or mining the rutile sands along the coast of eastern Australia near the Great Barrier Reef)

2. Understands why policies should be designed to guide the use and management of Earth's resources and to reflect multiple points of view (e.g., the inequities of access to resources, political and economic power in developing countries, the impact of a natural disaster on a developed country vs. a developing country)

3. Understands contemporary issues in terms of Earth's physical and human systems (e.g., the processes of land degradation and desertification, the consequences of population growth or decline in a developed economy, the consequences of a world temperature increase)

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


Students will be able to:

  • define deforestation
  • describe how deforestation affects world climate and local ecology
  • describe the economic relationship between the Amazon Rain Forest and Brazilian farmers
  • describe possible alternatives to forest deforestation
  • design a publicity campaign directed at Amazonian farmers to encourage them to use methods other than deforestation


Prentice Hall’s World Geography Today

computer with internet access

EPIC Laptop computers


  • handouts of the Prompt
  • handouts of the Assessment Checklist
  • World Geography Today textbooks
  • Design Process outline
  • poster board
  • construction paper
  • transparencies
  • pens
  • pencils
  • colored pencils
  • markers
  • pastels
  • chalk
  • finger paints
  • maps of South America (physical and political)
  • six to ten laptops
  • LCD Projector


  • agriculture: the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, and raising livestock
  • deforestation: to divest or clear of forests or trees
  • ecology: the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment
  • greenhouse effect: the common term given to the phenomenon whereby certain gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, methane) build up in the lower atmosphere and prevent heat from the Sun's rays from escaping into space
  • global warming: the increase in the Earth’s average temperature that causes climate changes; caused by the greenhouse effect
  • reforestation: to replant trees on land previously deforested
  • Slash and Burn: a method of agriculture in which forest is cut down and burned, destroying the local ecology


Step 1: (20 Minutes)

(Note: Step 1 consists of a general review of the Amazonian rainforest, the economic situation for rural Brazilian farmers, and the impact of deforestation on Amazonian ecosystems.)

1. The teacher will ask the students to explain the various geographic concepts pertaining to the deforestation crisis in the Amazon (economic conditions, poverty, feedback loops, etc.).  The teacher will use maps and diagrams via an LCD projector to convey various visual concepts and the exact location of the deforestation in question.  Approximately ten minutes will be spent explaining the deforestation situation and its causes.

2. The next ten minutes of Step 1 will be devoted to reviewing the possible solutions offered by environmentalists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and other parties for solving the deforestation crisis.  Students will be asked to review via oral explanation each possible solution, and the benefits and drawbacks that coincide with them.

Step 2: (5 Minutes)

(Note: Step 2 consists of a very brief teacher explanation of the project, the expectations, and the logistics of the activity.)

1. The teacher will explain that:

  • The project will be using the ERC Design-Based Format (this format will have been gone over previously with students in earlier lessons).
  • This project will focus on designing a publicity campaign that seeks to stop rural farmers from razing the rainforest.  Each group will be assigned a certain problem which needs a solution (i.e. group 1 will be assigned to design a project publicizing microloans, group 2 for occupational changes, group 3 for agricultural subsidies, etc.).  The end-result is open-ended; however, the end result should focus on convincing Brazilian farmers to ‘lower the current rate of deforestation in the Amazon and encourage reforestation.’
  • The students will be graded on how well they follow the design process in addition to their final prototypes of the publicity campaign and its presentation.
  • Students’ project groups will be the groups to which they are already assigned and sitting (have students in pre-designed groups based on need/behavior/etc.).

2. Explain to students that they are able to use the various art supplies and school supplies located in pre-determined labeled locations throughout the room.

Step 3: (25 Minutes) (Note: Step 3 consists of students beginning the design process in their pre-determined group.  The teacher {and any other inclusion personnel in the room} will circulate to ensure that students are on-task and addressing any concerns.)

1. Students will follow the following design steps:

  • Review the challenge.  Pin down what problem you’re trying to address and what obstacles may stand in your way.
  • Investigate the problem.  Using the resources and people at your fingertips, learn more about the problem and its causes
  • Frame/Reframe the problem.  What did you learn from your investigation?  Did it change what you thought of the problem?  Reinforce it?  Rewrite the problem!
  • Generate possible solutions to your problem.  Brainstorm your ideas on a piece of poster board!
  • Edit and Develop your solution.  Perfect it!  Make drawings, models, or illustrations to demonstrate the potential of your idea.
  • Share and Evaluate your idea.  Make sure you show your idea to the teacher before moving on to any next steps!!!


Step 4: (30 Minutes)

1. Inform students that the brainstorming phase should be wrapping up, and that they should be moving on to designing their hard prototype and planning their presentation.  Groups should have received information and notes from the instructor and made any revisions necessary.

2. During these thirty minutes, students should be working on their prototypes using the materials provided, as well as planning their presentation to the class.  The teacher will circulate to make sure students are on task and on the right track.

Step 5: (20 Minutes)

1. During this time, groups will present their presentations to the class.  Students will remained seated at all times, except for the presenting group that can come to the front of the room.  Each group will have approximately four to five minutes to present to the class.

2. Once the presentation is complete, students will provide the teacher with the prototype (if there is a tangible one), in addition to all of their brainstorming and design materials.  The teacher will assess the students based on the presentations, prototypes, and supplemental design materials.


Students will be assessed using a checkl ist at the ‘presentation-stage’ of the lesson that includes the following items:

  • Students have successfully and accurately followed the design process. (50 Points)
  • Students have made a good-faith effort to adjust their projects based on teacher feedback. (20 Points)
  • Students have put effort and creativity into their prototype. (30 Points)
  • Students have addressed the problem in their solution’s design and presented it to the class with accuracy, effort, and thoroughness. (50 Points)

This assignment could be differentiated for low-level students by including more visuals, adjusting readings to fit lower reading levels, and modifying the requirements of the oral presentation based on IEP needs.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students could design PowerPoint presentations that elaborate more on the topic in a creative and fun way.  They could also conduct research papers/projects on the sociological/economic reasons why farmers choose deforestation vs. manufacturing work.
  1. The topic of deforestation provides multiple opportunities for students to be able to empathize with those directly involved in the process of deforestation: indigenous people, urban dwellers, workers that do the deforestation, and politicians. Perhaps you can include a component in which the students do research to try and gain the viewpoint of said individuals in regards to deforestation. They can then create statements for all of the individuals effected that the class can refer to when ensuring they create prototypes that meet as many needs as possible.

  2. One way to gain empathy is to engage the stories of a community. I do not know if it is possible to collect the stories of this community as it is very far removed from the United States. This may be possible if one can make a connection with someone in that community.

    It seems that to produce a provocative publicity campaign, students will need to craft a narrative that will move the viewer. One user that should be addressed is the viewer, or the audience. Not every person will view a campaign the same way. However, a campaign aimed at a particular demographic, or audience, may work better. Students should spend some time empathizing with their intended audience.

    I could see how this lesson could work great in conjunction with the literature course on a campus. Students could focus on rhetoric and storytelling in the literature course as a way to understand how to make their publicity campaign intentionally targeted. For instance, students could use the literature course to analyze publicity campaigns recently in effect. They could analyze these campaigns for intended audience, intended purpose, and rhetorical devices. After analyzing various publicity campaigns, students could then use this knowledge in their design project. This would take some inter-curricular planning, but would could be really fun.

    I may have to use this idea.

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