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Environmental Justice in Southeast Michigan

School: Detroit Achievement Academy

City/State: Detroit, MI

Grade(s): 6

Format(s): Video: Documentary

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology

Project Overview

Environmental Justice: Detroit's Past Present and Future

Sixth-grade students at Detroit Achievement Academy studied the history of housing discrimination in their region. They read portions of The Detroit School Busing Case by Dr. Joyce Baugh and visited historical spots such as the wall on 8 Mile and Wyoming and the site of the Black Bottom neighborhood. They also heard from former residents of Black Bottom.

They began to notice patterns of injustice that exist in the region and the connection to historical housing discrimination. They focused in on environmental justice. They studied air quality and access to healthy food by getting out into different communities that are impacted. All the while they worked together to learn to direct, record and produce a documentary film. They debuted this film in front of our school community to launch other students into a Better World Day Celebration. They also planned and led Better World Day for a community. They organized a community march for environmental justice, helped crews plant trees, collect garbage and led a recycled art activity.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Excellent model of students addressing an authentic need in their own community
  • Shows the impact that students can have on their fellow students and community
  • Illustrates the concept of Leaders of Their Own Learning
  • Includes a folder of supplementary materials for this project

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can use a variety of media to develop and deepen my understanding of a topic or idea.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • I can conduct short research projects to answer a question.
  • I can build on other’s ideas during discussions.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can maintain consistency in style and tone when writing and speaking.
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