Environmental Leader of the Nation (?)

Sample Lesson 3

This lesson plan is based on a 45-60 minute time period and may be used as a stand-alone lesson or as part of a continuous unit. This lesson can be used by substitute teachers, classroom teachers and community organizations. Lesson plans and activities may be adapted to student ability, grade level and interests. Note: Because this is individual lesson plan that may or may not be part of a larger unit, there is no service component.


Governor Tom McCall left an indelible mark on Oregonians. We go to other states and shake our heads at the soft drink bottles and cans that get thrown in the garbage. We take for granted that we can play on Oregon's beaches, and don't understand how it is that in other places, individuals actually own the beaches, disallowing public use.

The policies of Tom McCall affect every Oregonian every day. Yet many Oregonians, though familiar with his name, are clueless to his role in Oregon's history.

Essential Questions

Who is Tom McCall? How do Tom McCall's decisions, policies and rhetoric impact the lives of Oregon's young people today? Why is Oregon considered an environmental leader for the nation?

Student Objectives

  • Recognize pictures of Tom McCall and his role as Oregon's Governor
  • Understand McCall's role in creating Oregon's reputation as an environmental leader for the nation.
  • Identify and be able to explain the principal bills associated with Tom McCall
  • The Bottle Bill
  • The Beach Bill
  • The Bicycle Bill
  • Land-Use Planning

Classroom Activities

If students conducted interviews or research in previous lessons, provide time for learning from each other.

  1. Introductory discussion: Oregon has been considered an environmental leader of the nation. What does that mean? Does it hold true today? How does Oregon look different, feel different than other places? Discussions could include:
    • The Bottle Bill: recycling, reusing, waste reduction, trash along the roadsides.
    • The Beach Bill: public beaches, access, private property rights
    • The Bicycle Bill: oil dependency, energy crisis, health/exercise.
    • Land-Use Planning: quality of life, transportation issues, importance of agricultural/ forest lands, access to rural areas.
    • Comparisons with other states: For example, Washington State does not have a bottle bill. What happens to pop cans and bottles? On the east coast the beaches are privately owned. Public access is severely limited. Most states have not had land-use planning laws, how is growth different? (15-20 minutes)
  2. Show the Tom McCall Montage video. Ask students to look for evidence of the policies that help define Oregon as an environmental leader for the nation. How did Governor Tom McCall contribute to Oregon's environmental reputation? Note: If previous sample lessons have been used, this may be the second time that students have seen this footage. The first time they were looking to find out who Tom McCall is. This viewing is to consider environmental policies. (12 minutes)
  3. Group work: Provide 3-5 Tom McCall quotes for students to respond to in small groups. Each group selects a quote; considers why the quote is important, the context, the meaning, links to policies, etc; then shares with larger group.


  4. Journal write: Provide students with the quote "Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better." What is its importance to Oregon? To Oregon's environment? To Tom McCall? To Me? How might this quote play out in daily life? (20 minutes)

Oregon Essential Skills

  • Listen actively and speak clearly and coherently
  • Think critically and analytically
  • Use technology to learn, live, and work
  • Demonstrate personal management and teamwork skills

Common Core State Standards

These Focus Standards have been selected from the Common Core State Standards.

  • RL.9-10.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of several word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
  • RI.9-10.3: Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
  • W.9-10.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • SL.9-10.3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.
  • L.9-10.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.