- The Great Barrier Reef (World Geography/World Cultures - Australia) Lesson Plan Illustration

Mr. Donn's Lesson Plan
Great Barrier Reef

Lesson Plan for World Geography, World Cultures (2-3 days)
Critical Thinking Skills
9th-grade Social Studies
Don Donn; USA


  • Prepare overheads of the Personality List provided below. Put several on each page. Have a blank page handy to cover the ones you have not yet discussed.

  • Materials about the Pacific Reef available for student use (handouts, books, articles)


STEP ONE: (Quick Background)
What is the Great Barrier Reef and why is it important?

Open Class: Tell students that The Great Barrier Reef is the name given to the more than 3000 rainbow colored coral reefs that grow off Australia's east coast. In places, the reef is as much as one hundred miles wide. Although there are natural breaks in the reef, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park maintains shipping lanes - wide cuts - through the reef so ships can get through.

Directions: You may choose to tell students the following three paragraphs of background information or have them read from their textbook. Or, you may choose to give them 10 minutes to research answers to 3 questions: Why is the Great Barrier Reef one of the natural wonders of the world? What value does the reef offer Australia's economy? How is the reef being damaged?

The reef is very important to Australia's economy. It provides food and jobs. 80% of the land along the reef supports agriculture - from fisheries to cattle grazing to crops. The reef protected beach offers white sand for lazing and sparking turquoise and aqua water for snorkeling, swimming, and surfing.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. The reef itself provides food, pearls, treasure from shipwrecks, and tourism. It is of great interest to the scientific and medical communities of the world. Treatments for cancer, AIDS, asthma, arthritis, and other infections are being researched from organisms found in coral reefs.

The reef is in danger. Run-off from land based agriculture, urban development, and aquaculture have all done their part to damage the reef. Oil spills and normal pollution from private boats and thousands of commercial vessels have damaged it. Tourists have damaged it. Infestation and disease have damaged it. Rather than use the passageways provided, ships push their way through the reef to save time and money. Sections of the reef are already dead. Other sections are dying.

For student teachers, suggested Transition Statement: Say: Obviously, something this big and this important needs laws to protect and manage it. The Australian people have different ideas on what these laws should be.

STEP TWO: Personalities List

  • Hand out Personalities List.

  • First, read through it with your class, using the overhead.

  • Put up the following: (White or chalk board, or use the overhead) The Australian Government is considering restricting all visitors to the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Discuss: What does this mean? (Does all mean no scientists, no tourists, by pass, by exception.) Allow your students to define the above statement. - to shape it up into a statement.

  • Return to the Personalities List. This time, have your students decide the vote of each personality - would it be Yes or No if they went to the poles today. (Mark the decision.)

STEP THREE: Propaganda Campaign

Quickly review what is a propaganda campaign.

Divide your students into groups. Assign each group a list of "personalities" who will vote the same way - either pro or con - although probably for different reasons. Have each group create a propaganda campaign designed to persuade voters to vote their way (pro or con.) They must design a theme that carries their message. That theme must be supported with visual materials such as posters that they create. They may choose one speaker from their group to present and summarize the campaign, or they may choose to each take a part.

  • Give them time to create and present their campaign. This can be done as part of a day, or over 2 days depending upon your time restraints and directions.

  • Have each group present their campaign.

  • Position campaign posters on the walls of your classroom.

STEP FOUR: Revisit the Personality List

Say: Now that you have had time to think about the ramifications of various actions or lack thereof, let's see how people on the personality list will vote today. Have your campaigns had any effect on their understanding of the issues involved - and their vote.

STEP FIVE: Advanced Classes

Ask: Who owns the Great Barrier Reef? Discuss: Should something this important to the people of the world be left to the management of one country?

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