If Trees Could Talk

Overview: Module 8

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Time Frame
5 Class periods

Teacher Pages pdf
Student Pages
[large file]

Ecological footprint
Sustainable management

Living in a Global Forest

Living in a Global Forest
has students compare the ecological footprint of a home constructed in 1950 with one constructed in 2000.  Students will learn where our wood comes from now and will analyze global efforts to manage the world's forests.


Objectives Lesson Plan
Links References

 Image of North America






Student Pages
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 2
Worksheet 3
Homes for Sale
Worksheet 4
Worksheet 5

Reflective Exercise


Objectives  derived from

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National Standards

For History

  • The student understands economic patterns since 1968.
    (Era 10, Contemporary United States; Standard 2)

For Social Studies

  • The student will describe and explain the relationships between national sovereignty and global interests in matters of natural resources, trade, use of technology, and welfare of people.
    (Standard 9, Global Connections)

  • The student will propose, compare, and evaluate alternative uses of land and resources in communities, regions, nations, and the world.
    (Standard 3, People, Places, Environment)

State Standard Correlations: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

Lesson Plan

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Teacher  Preparation:
Download and print Module 8,
one Teacher copy & one copy per student of the Student Pages PDFs using Adobe Acrobat.

Day 1
Set the stage for this activity by leading a group discussion answering the following questions:

1. Where does the U.S. get its supply of wood?

2. What does the term “global forest” describe?

3. How are countries around the world connected?

Assign Worksheet 1 and Worksheet 2 and have students read the Essay in order to answer the questions. 

Day 2
Ask students to define and provide some examples of the types of cartoons that can be found in newspapers and magazines. Next ask students to describe and explain the purpose of political cartoons. If possible, distribute copies of 2 or 3 political cartoons for students to review. As a class, discuss the meaning and significance of symbolism in political cartoons. Distribute Cartoons and Worksheet 3 and allow students to work in small groups to complete the tasks outlined on these pages.

Day 3
Begin the class by reading John Howard Payne's poem “Home, Sweet Home.” Ask students to brainstorm about what constitutes a home. On an overhead sheet or the blackboard, compile a list generated by the class of characteristics of an average home built in the year 2000, and an average home built in 1950. Lead a brief discussion on the differences and similarities of homes built during these two eras. Distribute Homes for Sale and Worksheet 4. Provide class time for students to write their two “Home for Sale” advertisements.

Day 4
Divide students into cooperative groups. Distribute Stepping Through the Forest, Discussing Sustainable Management, and Worksheet 5. Although this activity is meant to be completed in groups, an optional approach is to complete Steps 1 and 2 on Stepping Through the Forest as a class so that students have a better understanding of sustainable management before they join their “think tank.” Once each group has completed its assignment, allow students the opportunity to share their suggestions with the class (Step 4).

Day 5
Choose from one of three types of activity assessments. 

Teacher Answer Key

Class Extensions

  • Conduct a global summit in which students from area schools meet to discuss problems and potential solutions concerning the forests of the world.  Each school should represent a different country so that when students come together for the summit, they will gain a global perspective.  
  • Arrange a field trip to a forest products company or invite a guest speaker from a local forest products company to talk with your students about topics such as the importing and exporting of wood, the various uses for forest products, and timber harvesting.
  • Have students measure their ecological footprint using a site such as Earth Day Network (http://www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp#). Ask students to share their results with the class and discuss the potential implications of their findings on the global forest.

Team Teaching Possibilities

Technology: Ask students to create a graph or chart (in Microsoft Excel or a similar program) using the information and statistics from “Homes for Sale” to compare homes built during 1950 with those constructed during 2000.

English: Have students write a short story about the future of the global forest.

Math: Using the information contained in the essay, the figures from “Cartoon #3” (Human Population Growth Chart), and outside sources if desirable, have students make future world population projections.   

Science: Ask students to design a scientific study concerning the impact of overpopulation and high rates of consumption on the global forest.  Additionally, have students analyze and describe how a sustainable management program could specifically benefit forests around the world.


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Forest History Society--Bibliographic resources on forestry, conservation and environmental history. Ordering Resource for: American Forests: A History of Resiliency and Recovery.

Earth Day Network -- Students can use this site to measure their own ecological footprints.


United Nations -- Detailed information, including background on and the documents produced at the 1992 Earth Summit.


International Institute for Sustainable Development -- Contains a wide range of sources explaining the central issues surrounding sustainable development.

CIA – The World Factbook -- U.S. government profiles of all countries that includes geographic, economic, and environmental statistics and vital facts.  

U.S. Census Bureau – Historical tables detailing the changes in American houses between 1940 and 1990.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Contains descriptive and statistical information about forests and forest issues for all countries of the world.


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Brown, Lester R. State of the World 1999. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999.

Floyd, Donald W. Forest Sustainability: The History, the Challenge, the Promise. Durham, NC: Forest History Society, 2002.

MacCleery, Doug. American Forests: A History of Resiliency and Recovery . Durham , NC : Forest History Society, 2002. [Order]

Menzel, Peter. Material World. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1994.

Essay  / Worksheet 1 / Worksheet 2 / Cartoons / Worksheet 3  / Homes for SaleWorksheet 4 Forest / Discussion / Worksheet 5 / Application / Test / Reflective Exercise / Answer Key