Indigenous Perspectives

The great Kapok tree

Author(s): Lynne Cherry


Social Justice focus: FNMI Environmentalism

Synopsis: In the Amazon rain forest, a man is chopping down a great Kapok tree. Exhausted from his labours, he puts down his ax and rests. As he sleeps, the animals who live in the tree plead with him not to destroy their world.

Lesson Plan: Brent Vandenheuvel

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Persuasive Reading and Writing/ Sustainability and Stewardship

Grade: Grade 6


The focus in this lesson is on persuasive writing and the recognition of different endangered species and their environments around the world. In relation to this unit, students will focus on creating a short persuasive speech by placing themselves in the perspective of an endangered species. The focus will be on reading through the story and acknowledging the persuasive reasonings the animals make to the man with the ax. After this, students will create a one or two sentences persuasion to people as an assessment as learning to get them familiar with persuasive writing. By the end of this unit, students will be able to write a short persuasive paper on a topic of their choice involving environmentalism or FNMI.

Curriculum Areas:   

This lesson can connect to the Grade 6 Science and Technology curriculum in the Ontario curriculum. More specifically, this lesson is designed to emphasize the Understanding Life Systems strand by highlighting the importance of biodiversity in environments around the world and the importance in preserving the living things in these communities.

Curriculum Expectations:


Reading: OE– 2. recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate understanding of how they help communicate meaning.

SE– 2.4 identify various elements of style – including voice, word choice, and the use of hyperbole, strong verbs, dialogue, and complex sentences – and explain how they help communicate meaning.

Writing: OE– 1. generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience.

SE– 1.1 identify the topic, purpose, and audience for a variety of writing forms.

Science and Technology:

Understanding Life Systems: OE– 3. demonstrate an understanding of biodiversity, its contributions to the stability of natural systems, and its benefits to humans.

SE– 3.4 describe ways in which biodiversity within and among communities is important for maintaining the resilience of these communities.

Learning Goal(s):  What are students expected to know, do and understand? We are learning to….

  • recognize the form of a persuasive piece of writing
  • evaluate text and understand the importance of biodiversity in environment
  • create a short piece of persuasive writing using proper text and word choice
  • explain our reasoning for your selected animal and word choice
  • relate the connection between humans and natural environments

Success Criteria:How will students know they have met the learning goal?   I can….

  • Identify the importance of biodiversity and support my animal choice
  • Understand and apply concepts of persuasiveness in my writing
  • Choose strong vocabulary to enhance my persuasive writing
  • Refer to anchor charts to support your writing

MODIFICATIONS / ACCOMMODATIONS: How will I meet the needs of my students? Have I addressed any IEPs?


  • student working below grade level will focus on the language used in persuasive writing and less focus on biodiversity and environmentalism.
  • student’s working above grade level will not only write a persuasive piece about the preservation of an endangered species, they will also create an infographic of this information to present with their persuasive piece. The infographic will be a calling to humans to save the endangered animal.
  • Students working below grade level will not have to research animals endangered. They will be given a list of animals with information on them. The students will use this information to create a persuasive piece.


  • Students who struggle with reading comprehension will receive a handout of the book so they can follow along with the text and refer back to throughout the activity.
  • Student can use chrome book or IPAD to search for information rather than cellular device.


Minutes:   10-15 minutes

Task:  What will I be doing? What will students be doing?  

  • Students will be asked what the word persuasive means to them.
  • a definition created by the class will be written on chart paper or the board
  • Student will then be asked what biodiversity means and why they may think it is important in our environment.
  • this will also be written on the board.
  • students will then be asked if they know of any endangered species.
  • Students will then be told they will be read a story book. They will be asked before reading, how persuasiveness and biodiversity are involved in this book?
  • Story book will be read

Assessment: Assessment For Learning

  • this is for the teacher to observe the understanding of the students and their knowledge of persuasion and environmentalism. This will determine how in depth the teacher can teach.


Minutes:   30-40 minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  • after reading the story book, ask the students what stood out to them? What did this storybook make them feel and think about?
  • Ask:
    • How was persuasiveness in this story and who was trying to be persuasive? (all animals and rainforest child)
    • What was the man with the ax’s effect on his environment? Was it positive or negative?
    • What words did the animals use that gave a persuasive voice to their pleeds to the man with the ax?
    • Explain that the purpose of the speech of the animals is to express an opinion they want others to share. To be convincing, writers need to support their opinions with examples, reasons, or facts.
    • Who can the rain forest child represent in our present day today? (Indigenous people)

Activity: Have the class create a set of sentences that will persuade the teacher into allowing students to have 10 extra minutes of DPA at the end of the day. The class will generate the persuasive text and the teacher will guide and lead the class and write their persuasive piece on the board.

  • This will give students a first hand guided instruction on how to be persuasive.
  • The teacher will refer back to the animals in the story and their pleads several times to show the language and voice that they use to persuade the man with the ax not to cut down their home.
  • Thumbs up down or in middle to gage understanding.

Activity: Students will now be asked to write a persuasive piece of writing themselves. It will be several sentences long but does not need to be a paragraph. The students will research, using their phones or chrome books, an animal that is endangered somewhere on earth.

  • After researching this endangered animal, students will find information on them and create a plea to humans to try to persuade them to help the endangered species or to stop hurting the endangered species environment. Students will be able to share these sentences with friends in order to receive feedback. Once the students have completed this task, they will get into groups of four and read their persuasive pieces. They will then give feedback as the teacher monitors the conversations.

Assessment: Assessment As Learning

  • students will be providing feedback to each other and assessing each others understanding and evaluating themselves as well on their understanding and knowledge.


Minutes:   5-10 minutes



  • What did you find difficult about persuasive writing?
  • What strategies did you use to help yourself in your writing?
  • Why did you select the animal you chose?
  • How are we, as humans, capable of helping endangered species?

These questions will help teachers understand the level of understanding in the class and will see if anything needs to be re-taught in the next lesson

 Assessment: Assessment As Learning

  • Students will be able to evaluate themselves even further by answering these questions and thinking about their answers to prepare themselves for the next lesson.


  • chrome books
  • pencils
  • The Great Kapok Tree Book
  • Markers
  • Chart Paper
  • Cell phones

REFLECTION: Questions to determine the success of your lesson: 

  • Were my students successful in meeting the learning goals and success criteria? How do I know?
  • Did my instructional decisions meet the needs of all students? If not, what are my next steps?
  • What worked well and why?
  • What will I do differently in the future when teaching this lesson? For the subsequent lesson?
  • What are the next steps for my professional learning?


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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