Lesson Title: Impact of Pesticides/Herbicides on Farm Workers Grade Level

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Lesson Title:

Impact of Pesticides/Herbicides on Farm Workers

Grade Level:

Grade Six Lesson 4

History-Social Science Standard:

6.2.2 Students trace the development of agriculture techniques that permitted the production of economic surplus and the emergence of cities as centers of culture and power.

Correlation to K-8 California Adopted Textbooks:

Houghton Mifflin Social Studies, A Message of Ancient Days, pg. 142.

Setting the Context:

As farming techniques progressed through time, chemical pesticides and fertilizers become essential to high production of crops. Unfortunately, these same chemicals also pose a health threat to underground water supply, consumers, and the farm workers who harvest the crops.

Focus Question:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of pesticides?

How can we strive to maintain a safe food supply?
Expected Learning Outcomes:

The students will compare the positive and negative effects of chemical fertilizer and pesticide use.

Students will offer suggestions on how to maintain a safe food supply.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of fertilizers/pesticides on the farming industry and the people employed in that field by completing a web search. The students will write a brief synopsis of their findings.

Students will (verbal or written) offer suggestions on how to maintain a safe food supply.
Key Concepts:

Fertilizers and pesticides provide a benefit to the farming industry, but also create significant risks to the water supply, animals, and humans.

Essential Vocabulary:









human rights

service learning
Primary Sources:

Textbook, Internet, Pictures of workers and the fields being sprayed from the CDE Web site.


Internet Web sites, Photos of workers being sprayed from the CDE Web site. (click here for link to picture).



Show pictures or bring to class: apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches, corn – foods we love to eat. Every day these foods, and many others, are being sprayed with toxic chemicals that affect the food organisms and the farm workers that grow and pick the food we eat. Is the food we eat safe? How do we know?

Making Connections:

Discuss with students these four themes:

Respect for the Earth:

Because of their intimate relationship with the earth, farm workers and growers can provide a perspective unlike any other members of our society.

Farm Workers:

Farm workers historically portray the struggle or workers for basic human rights.

Social Responsibility:

The history of immigrants has been shaped by real individuals acting on their beliefs and values, and for a democratic and just society.

Service Learning:

Service Learning, when implemented in a way that connects classroom content and skills to meeting actual community needs, will improve the community and society.

Vocabulary Activities:

Vocabulary words will be placed on the board. Students will keep a vocabulary journal to define the words from class discussion and research. Students will complete a vocabulary skills sheet.

Guided Instruction:

  1. Anticipatory question (refer to motivation)

  1. Discuss Group Projects: Electing a group leader, define the group problem, divide the problem, select sub-committee leaders, research and hold sub-committee meetings, reassemble the entire class, and hold group presentations.

  1. Assign the Group Project task: Is the food we eat safe?

  1. Allow 2-4 days to research the task. Have group presentations.

Integrating Language:

Students will listen to teacher’s introduction, do research on the Internet, participate in group and class discussion, and complete the vocabulary skill sheet.

Recommend students go to the Internet and search “Environmental organizations dealing with pesticides.” There are thousands of organizations dealing with the environment. Two recommended sites are: yourplanetearth.org and emagazine.com. The emagazine.com site has a very powerful link that allows you to find out who is polluting in your backyard. From the Environmental Defense’s SCORECARD, you can type your zip code and find out how your county scores compared with the rest of the nation.

Students will do research on cancer. Two sites are recommended: healthfinder.gov- Type CANCER, then press Go, over 200 cancer links for research. This Web site is totally translated in Spanish; you need to press Espanol.

Other search engines can be accessed by typing CANCER, then press Search to display many useful research links such as the American Cancer Society, Ask NOAH about cancer, OncoLink, Outlook, and many others.

Service Learning:

Have students volunteer to support the Dream Foundation of Santa Barbara, California. The mission of the Dream Foundation is: To enhance the quality of life for individuals and families battling terminal illnesses.

The Dream Foundation is the first and only national wish-granting organization for adults ages eighteen to sixty-five. The majority of dreams granted involve children whose parents are desperately trying to create one final positive memory for their family to hold onto after they are gone. Fundraising in your classroom or school, such as penny jars will help with the cash donations needed to help make dreams come true.
The Dream Foundation Flower Empowerment Program is wonderful opportunity for students to show the caring for others that typifies the life of César E. Chávez. Flower Empowerment is a weekly delivery outreach to individuals who are catastrophically ill who have been referred to the Dream Foundation by health-care facilities, hospices, and hospitals. Flower Empowerment delivers fresh flowers (donated by flower vendors) and cards (made by school children) to well over 60 individuals and families, living in the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles area, per week. They could deliver many more if more schools and school students volunteered.
The following guidelines will help your students:
Messages are to be nongender specific and without reference to age or generation.
No reference to religion or religious affiliation.
Try to steer away from “get well soon’ sentiments, as most clients are terminally ill.
Simplicity works best! For example:

“Mrs. Ferrari’s sixth graders are wishing you a happy day”

“Best wishes from your friends at Alice Shaw School”

“We hope this makes you smile! See you next week.”

“YOU are someone special!”

“People like you brighten the world!”

Contact Leah Watson, Volunteer Manager, at (805) 564-2131 x108 or by e-mail at leah@dreamfoundation.org if you wish to become involved in caring for others.
More information can be obtained at the dreamfoundation.org Web site, a César E. Chávez challenge would be to have your class adopt a terminally ill adult and to make their dream come true.
Skills Sheet – Pesticides

Choose the best word from the word list to match each meaning. Then write the word in the blank.






Service Learning



  1. Any living being_______________

  1. To make or render unclean_______________

  1. A malignant growth of tissue_______________

  1. A teaching method that connects classroom learning to meeting community needs_______________

  1. The making of goods available for human wants______________

  1. Moving from a country to settle permanently elsewhere _______________

  1. Any substance used to kill small insects and plant life_______________

  1. Any substance used to enrich the soil_______________

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