Unit 2: The Water Cycle and Freshwater Resources
In this unit, students are introduced to the concept of a natural cycle. They are first asked to identify the different components of the hydrologic cycle in Spanish. Students will be able to recognize the delicate balance between the individual elements of a large and complex system. Students will also be able to identify the interactions among parts of a natural system.
Unit 2 activities support the overall module goals by guiding students through the basic structure, components, and interactions of the water cycle as they relate to the use and conservation of water resources. The specific learning objectives for this unit align with the World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages as follows:
- Interpersonal Communication: Spanish language learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken conversations to share information, reactions, and opinions about the water cycle and how it works.
- Interpretive Communication: Spanish language learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed regarding water consumption in routine human activities.
- Making Connections: Spanish language learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using Spanish to develop critical thinking. As part of this learners will:
- describe the distribution of Earth's water among the major water sources such as oceans, ice caps, groundwater, soils, lakes, soils, streams and the atmosphere;
- outline and reproduce components of the water cycle;
- predict ways in which human activities are most likely to affect water availability and quality as it passes through the water cycle.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
This lesson is designed to be completed within a 50-minute class period. Sections of the lesson plan can be expanded through in-class discussions and supplemental activities to accommodate longer class times. This assignment is related to the following learning objective:
- Students will predict ways in which human activities are most likely to affect water availability and quality as it passes through the water cycle.
Give students this handout Huella del agua (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 140kB Dec22 14) prior to starting this lesson to complete and bring to class. Have students predict which activities will use the most water. Advise students that they will be expected in class to compare answers in groups and then share their conclusions with the class as a whole. Expect that the instructor will need to guide the discussion with the questions below.
WATER FOOTPRINT (Huella del agua) (10–15 min)
Through this activity students will quantify ways in which human activities utilize water resources and will compare their personal, national, and world use statistics to predict how these activities affect water availability across the globe. Students will also be asked to describe ways in which they could optimize the use of these resources in terms of environmental justice. Questions and activities that you might consider discussing as a class are as follows:
- Review, compare and share student answers to the pre-class activity.
- Consider aloud how water consumption is linked to the water cycle.
- Have class as a whole use a water use average and multiply that by the population of their city.
- Discuss with the class how such water usage might compare to other cities or other countries around the world.
- Ask students to consider with a classmate changes they would be willing to make to their water use to accommodate a decline in water supply.
WATER CYCLE EXPLORATION (30 min)
Class discussion (5 min)
Ask students to think of ways in which water is present on Earth — ¿Dónde se encuentra el agua en la Tierra?
As students recall various examples of where water is found, make a list and begin to illustrate as appropriate. At this point, limit the words and concepts to vocabulary that students volunteer. Depending on the students' background these words may be as basic as "los lagos", "los ríos", "el mar", "la lluvia", "la tierra", "las plantas", etc.
Next, ask students to identify how water moves between these reservoirs (and changes state). ¿Cómo se mueve el agua de un reservorio a otro? Por ejemplo, ¿cómo se mueve de la atmósfera a la Tierra? ¿Qué otros movimientos hace el agua? ¿Qué tipos de cambio ocurren en estos procesos?
Again, limit the discussion to words students already know and suggest. Note any language gaps, or words that are missing by jotting down question marks for later follow-up.
Think-Share-Pair Activities (15 min)
At this point, label the drawing and words generated by the class with "El ciclo del agua" and let the class know that the water movement they have been describing is known by this name (and also by the name "El ciclo hidrológico").
Inform students that to further expand on what they have been discussing they will work in pairs to complete a drawing of the water cycle and practice describing (in Spanish) the various processes at work: handout Actividad -- El ciclo del agua (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 3.3MB May18 16) and slide 1 of the "Agua" PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 8.2MB May18 16). Follow-up discussion will allow the instructor and students to fill in any gaps for the class.
Once students have worked with their partners, go over the drawing with the entire class, asking individual students or pairs of students to explain terms and identify their location on the drawing. At the end of this discussion, show students the completed drawing with correct labels and offer any further explanations of concepts as needed (slide 2 of "Agua" PowerPoint).
Think-Share-Pair continued (10 min)
Show the second slide illustration of a more detailed version of the water cycle (slide 3 of "Agua" PowerPoint). Ask students to talk with their partner about overlaps, differences, and new terms they see comparing this slide with the previous drawing. Follow-up by asking individual students or pairs of students to describe these similarities and differences and to explain the processes at work.As students become more comfortable with the water cycle and its processes, continue through the PowerPoint slide questions and charts. Ask students to discuss with their partner to: (Answers in bold)
- Predict whether the atmosphere or land contains more water
- Rank the components of the land (ice caps 1, streams and lakes 3, soil, plants and animals 4, groundwater 2) in order on the basis of which stores the most freshwater. Use this opportunity to note that there is much more water in groundwater than in surface water.
- Predict the amount of water available for human consumption .3%
- Make connections between the issue of water scarcity and environmental justice
WATER CYCLE SUSTAINABILITY (30 min)
Optional for longer class periods
- Have students break into groups, representing the major mechanisms of transport (clouds, rain, rivers, groundwater, plants).
- The instructor will take the role of a consumer: farmer, industry, park, citizen, etc.
- As a class, discuss what would happen if changes occurred in the cycle.
- Try different scenarios:
- What would happen to people living downstream if someone diverts or dams the river in your semi-arid region?
- If global warming increases evaporation, what are the consequences?
- If a company dumps toxic waste on the ground in an urban area, what are the potential consequences?
- If your town relies on a well for water supply and it dries out, what are your options?
Teaching Notes and Tips
WATER FOOTPRINT. Student handout can be turned in for credit; individual answers will differ. Assessment to be based on completion of the table.
WATER CYCLE AND WATER CYCLE SUSTAINABILITY: Student participation in the previous activities and their ability to answer how the different scenarios may affect and influence their communities. Assessment may be given orally as a class or group discussion or instructor may require written answers at the end of each activity. A grading rubric is provided if students were required to turn in individual water cycle diagrams and/or for discussion of scenarios. Unit 2 assessment rubric Spanish (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 116kB Apr28 16)
References and Resources
From the United States Geological Survey (USGS)
From the United Nations
- Día mundial del agua
- Año Internacional de la cooperación en la esfera del agua
- Informe de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Desarrollo de los Recursos Hídricos en el Mundo