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Fossil Fuels and Renewable Alternative Energy Unit Print & Digital

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
84 PDF + 55 Google Slide pages


Explore the urgent crisis growing with our world’s most unhealthy and unsustainable addiction: fossil fuels. Everything from its various forms (oil, coal, and natural gas) to air pollution and greenhouse gases to clean alternative energy like solar and wind is covered in this unit.

Grab students attention with shocking numbers, make it real with their own personal audit, guide them to dig deeper with engaging documentaries and current issues, and inspire them with the work of clean energy activists.

This unit comes in both print PDF and digital for Google Slides.


Greatness is believing in the power of one person’s choices to impact the world.

Few teenagers know the world beyond their own surroundings and many have no idea how their lifestyle, their consumption levels, their “normal” behavior are not the reality for much of the world, especially when it comes to our natural resources.

Guide your students through a variety of sources, from documentaries and charts to a simulation and news articles, as they grapple with the urgent question: “How can I lessen my carbon footprint?”

Set each of them up for success with this high interest, multi-faceted unit with highly scaffolded graphic organizers, student directions, and supplemental resources included at each step of the way.

And empower your students to become globally-aware clean-energy citizens in this 3-week unit!

Included in this complete inquiry-driven unit:

Teacher Materials

  • Teacher Unit Overview with general notes, links, standards, and a pacing guide with standards (3 pages)
  • Daily Lesson Plans with step-by-step directions, planning tips, and lesson takeaway notes (12 pages total)
  • Detailed Answer Keys for each activity
  • Image Files of each of the included data displays
  • Unit Review and Skills handouts with self-checking questions and "I Can..." statements
  • Skill Handouts that include Annotating a Text, Analyzing News Media Sources, Analyzing a Political Cartoon

Student Materials

  • Unit Notes: deepen learning on the concept fossil fuel throughout the unit
  • Incoming Brainstorm: open unit with discussion of the unit's central concept, fossil fuel
  • Fossil Fuel Pop Quiz: kick off the unit with some eye-opening statistics and facts
  • Farming for Oil Simulation: using some dried beans and rice, demonstrate just how little fossil fuel there is left on earth
  • Fossil Fuel Video Notes: gain a solid overview of world's history and current environmental and energy crisis with guided notes for a short National Geographic video
  • Fossil Fuel Consumption: analyze a wide variety of maps and graphs for how much the world relies on this unsustainable and damaging energy source
  • Pump: compare various clean fuel alternative to gasoline and the real reason we use fossil fuels in this investigative documentary
  • Alternative Options: research the different clean energy sources: solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biofuel
  • Case Study: Living Off the Grid: explore how several households have said good-bye to fossil fuel energy
  • Political Cartoon & News Article Analysis: incorporate timely events with these templates, comes with ideas for how to incorporate throughout the unit
  • Socratic Seminar Discussion: culminate learning with a deep conversation about what all this means for the future of the planet and for your students
  • Assessment: confidently assess with these short-answer and extending written response questions
  • Digital File: link to a Google Slides file with copies of all student sheets

Note on Resources Used

All of the activities utilize video clips, news articles, and data displays that can be accessed free online at the time of this latest update. As for the full-length documentary used in this unit, Pump is available for free streaming at the time of this latest update.

Note to Homeschoolers

Though the included teacher lesson plans are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:

  • the inquiry structure of this unit is driven by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question
  • a wide ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit,
  • your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
  • most activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
  • all utilized sources are free and easily obtainable; either included or accessible online (links provided)
  • this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
  • any one activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest


Looking for more units on sustainability?

These units can be easily integrated into your Current Events, Human Geography, or Environmental Science course

  • Water Supply & Pollution: a 3-week unit exploring our finite freshwater supply and the human rights, pollution, and conservation issues that need urgent solutions
  • Plastic & Garbage: a 3-week unit exploring the modern invention of garbage, landfills, and single-use disposables, the effects it is having on our oceans, and how a zero-waste lifestyle can be possible
  • Sustainability PBL Unit: an 8-week thematic PBL unit that explores all three: water, fossil fuels, and garbage

Interested in making this into a full-course?

Global Issues to Empower, a semester-long current events, human geography, and environmental science all-in-one course

This listing is for one license for regular, non-commercial classroom use by a single teacher only. In upholding copyright law, PDF resources are uneditable and resources made for Google Classroom have some editing abilities. By purchasing a license to this resource, you have access to all future updates at no cost, available under “My Purchases". Multiple and transferable licenses are available for purchase. To request a complete terms of use prior to purchase or if you have any questions about this resource, please leave a question below under Product Q&A.

Total Pages
84 PDF + 55 Google Slide pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.


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