The last month, I’ve seen several teachers asking about lesson plans for opinion essays or persuasive essays. We have three books that can help.
Persuasive Essays: Conservation v. Development
ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA, a 2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book, is the story of a puma cub who is orphaned and how the scientists try to reintroduce him to the wild. It takes place in Brazil, where the pumas are coming up against the problems of increasing urbanization. The sugar cane fields, needed to make ethanol for automobile fuel, are taking over. This is a classic story of conservation v. development.
However, sometime in the last couple years, the environmental questions that today’s students must answer have changed. Before, we asked, “How can we preserve habitats?” While that question is still relevant, it has changed into a new question. We are now an urban world; that is, over 50% of the world’s lands are now urbanized. While we should set aside lands still for wildlife, we also need to address how we can make space in an urban world for wildlife. The new question is this: “In an urban world, how can we peacefully co-exist with wild creatures?”
Scientists are responding by trying to create conservation corridors (See ConservatonCorridors.org). These are areas of wild or undeveloped strips of land, usually along a river so the animals have water. These corridors allow wildlife to travel from one wild place to another, keeping the population’s gene pool viable. Here’s information on the Brazilian puma corridor.
In Brazil, the government is trying to work with property owners to set aside land for corridors. Abayomi’s story could actually be an argument for either side of the argument. Pro-development could set aside a portion of the land for corridors and call it done. Pro-conservation could point out that corridors should be mandatory; and they should be larger and more functional for the wildlife; and they should be created in conjunction with habitat preservation.
The sugar cane companies in Brazil actually paid for this book to be published in Portuguese for Brazilian schools. They understand that they can’t just develop lands without doing something about the loss of habitat.
Note: If your students have read ABAYOMI, the BRAZILIAN PUMA and have questions, I am available for a free 15-minute Skype to answer questions.
THE FLORIDA PANTHER: The issues raised for Abayomi in Brazil echo those of the Florida Panther. Here’s information on the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
I Want a Dog or Cat Opinion Essays
Another option for studying opinion or persuasive essay is our titles, I WANT A DOG and I WANT A CAT.
Dennis and Mellie, cousins, try to decide on the perfect pet for their respective families. Dennis explores different breeds of dogs using ten criteria for making a decision, while Mellie uses a similar ten criteria for deciding on a cat breed. Both end up writing an essay about their decisions. The books include suggestions for using the stories in your classrooms.