Vandalism in the Tennessee Valley

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

Using social media, how can you bring awareness to and promote the prevention of looting, vandalism and graffiti of the cultural and/or natural resources found in the Tennessee Valley?

Unit Summary:

This PBL unit will ask students to bring awareness to and promote the prevention of looting, vandalism and graffiti of the cultural and natural resources found in the Tennessee Valley.

This unit will require students to complete a culminating project where classmates collaboratively work to create and publish social media posts which highlight the need for responsible practices with regards to the cultural and natural resources found in the Tennessee Valley.

Hook Event:

Desk Graffiti
Give each student a dry erase marker. Ask them to change desks with a classmate and write their name on that person’s desk. Students should then return to their assigned seat. As a class, discuss how it feels sitting in a desk that someone else has written on?

NOTE: The teacher will want to test that the dry erase marker can be easily removed from the desk PRIOR to having the class complete this activity. This same concept could be taught by asking students to exchange homework papers, marking out their classmate’s name and writing their own name on the paper in lieu of writing on desks.

Culminating Event:

Students will create a social media campaign (video, meme, picture, etc.) which highlights the need for responsible practices with regards to the cultural and/or natural resources found in the Tennessee Valley. This includes preventing looting, vandalism and graffiti.



Science Standards:

6.ESS3: Earth and Human Activity 1) Differentiate between renewable and non-renewable resources by asking questions about their availability and sustainability.

Math Standards:

6.SP.A.1 Recognize a statistical question as one that anticipates variability in the data related to the question and accounts for it in the answers.

ELA and Other Standards:

6.SL.PKI.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

6.L.KL.3 When writing and speaking, vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style; maintain consistency in style and tone.

6.MA.Cr2.A Organize, propose, and evaluate artistic ideas, plans, and prototypes for media arts productions, considering purposeful intent.

Social Studies
SSP.04 Construct and communicate arguments citing supporting evidence to: ● Demonstrate and defend an understanding of ideas ● Compare and contrast viewpoints ● Illustrate cause and effect ● Predict likely outcomes ● Devise new outcomes or solutions

Created By: Molly Plyler
Grade Level or Subject: 6th Grade

Tennessee Academic Standards for Science Connection

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS - Earth and Space Sciences
Science and Engineering Practices: CEDS – Constructing explanations and designing solutions to explain phenomena or solve problems.
Cross Cutting Concepts: SC – Stability and change of systems

21st Century Skills

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Collaboration (Team Building)
  • Creativity and Innovation

Daily Activities

For more information on this lesson please see the Lesson Resources below

  Activities Resources and Materials
Activity One

Differentiating Between Cultural Resources vs. Natural Resources

Graphic Organizers: Bubble Map Vocabulary

To help students understand key vocabulary, students will complete a bubble map for each of the following terms: looting, vandalism, graffiti, archaeology, archaeological site, ancestral homeland, Federally Recognized Native American tribes, cultural resource, natural resource, renewable resource, and nonrenewable resource.

Students will write one key term in the center circle/bubble of each bubble map graphic organizer. Students will then fill the surrounding circles/bubbles with correlating terms, examples or descriptions of the main vocabulary word.

Graphic Organizers: Venn Diagram Comparison

Students will complete 2 different Venn Diagrams. The first one will list similarities and differences between the terms “renewable vs. nonrenewable resource.” The second Venn Diagram will include the terms “cultural resource vs. natural resource.”

Graphic Organizer Template: Bubble Map

Graphic Organizer Template: Venn Diagram

Activity Two

Exploring the Tennessee Valley

Build a Virtual Field Trip

Students will select a Tennessee Valley archaeological park/area to research. Students will then utilize digital tools such as Google Slides to build a virtual field trip for one of the sites.  The slides should be ordered in a way to provide other students an experience similar to touring the site in-person. Each virtual field trip should take between 3 – 7 minutes for their classmates to complete. 

Your virtual field trip should include pictures, videos and/or other relevant information which conveys why it is important to preserve and protect this particular archaeological area. 

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park 

Pinson Mounds States Archaeological Park 

Mound Bottom State Archaeological Area

Red Clay State Historic Park

Link Farm State Archaeological Area

Chickasaw TV Video Network

Osiyo TV: Voices of the Cherokee People

Activity Three

Are Archeaological Sites Renewable?

Class Debate

Class will debate whether archaeological sites, such as Native American villages or homesites, are more like renewable or nonrenewable resources? Specifically, students should differentiate between the idea of renewable and nonrenewable resources by asking questions about availability and sustainability. 

It is recommended that students view the provided videos prior to preparing for their debate so they have a better understanding of what an archaeological site is. 

The teacher may wish to select a specific archaeological park/area to focus the debate. 

Video: Knoxville News Sentinel – TVA Archaeologist (1.39 minutes)

Video: McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture – The History of Archaeology in Tennessee (4.01 minutes)

Video: Knoxville News Sentinel – TVA Mandated Dig Unearths Knoxville History (3.07 minutes)

Activity Four

Destruction of Our Own Natural Resources: The Gatlinburg Fires

Fire Stats

In late November 2016, the Gatlinburg wildfires took place. These wildfires killed 14 people and injured over 190 more. 

Damage caused by the fires is estimated to be more than $500 million. By December 12, the fires had burned more than 10,000 acres (15 square miles) inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and 6,000 acres in other parts of the area. 

At least 14,000 area residents and tourists were forced to evacuate, while over 2,000 buildings were damaged and/or destroyed.

Two juveniles were initially charged with aggravated arson for starting the fires.

Using the data above, create 3 statistical questions related to the Gatlinburg wildfires. Be prepared to explain why the questions you created are statistical questions.

For example, “How old am I?” is not a statistical question, but “How old are the students in my school?” is a statistical question because one anticipates variability in students’ ages.

Persuasive Essay

Students should watch the provided videos in the order listed. After viewing all three videos, write a persuasive essay on the following prompt:

Who is responsible for the damage caused by the Gatlinburg wildfires?

Video: Knoxville News Sentinel – Mountain Firestorm: The Story of the Gatlinburg Wildfires (16.19 minutes)

Video: USA Today – 2 Teens Arrested in TN Wildfires (0.42 minute)

Video: USA Today – Extent of Tennessee fire damage comes into grim focus (2.49 minutes)

Activity Five

Promoting Social Good in the Tennessee Valley

Social Media Campaign

Students will work in groups of 2-3 to create a social media campaign to raise awareness of and promote the prevention of looting, vandalism and graffiti of our cultural and/or natural resources. 

Each campaign should be centered around a unifying theme such as a particular location OR addressing a specific challenge. Students may also incorporate hashtags, taglines, videos, photos, memes, etc. into their social media campaign. However, they may NOT use copyrighted material.

Groups should also include at least 4 posts, or potential posts, on the social media platform of the teacher’s choosing for their social media campaign. Students should keep in mind the advantages and limitations of various social media platforms as they develop content.

If student privacy is a concern, posts can be created on Google Slides and displayed around the school vs. posting publicly. Student work can also be posted under approved school accounts (Example: School STEM Twitter account) instead of their personal social media accounts.

Sample TVA hashtag – #TVAFun (Instagram)

Sample Campaign – A Mission of Service (YouTube Playlist)

Activity Six

Optional Extension Activity: Green Screen Commercial

Students will use an iPad app such as iMovie to create a commercial highlighting the impacts of vandalism on a archaeological site located in the TN Valley. With the aid of a green screen app, students should include themselves and/or classmates in the commercial standing in front of the archaeological site.

Further “movie magic,” film editing, can be applied to show how the site might look if damaged by looting, vandalism or graffiti.

iMovie app

Technology Integration: Students will use the Internet and digital productivity tools such as Google Slides to create their virtual field trip. Further technology integration will occur as students create the content for their social media campaign. Examples of content could inc

Community Partners Contribution to Learning Experience Contact Information
Local Law Enforcement

Guest speaker – To discuss the legal issues and penalties of looting or vandalism.

TVA Archaeological Specialist or Archaeologist

Guest speaker –  To discuss the importance of preserving archaeological sites and cultural resources.

TVA Police Guest speaker – To discuss the destruction of cultural resources through looting, vandalism and graffiti.  

Capstone Presentation:

Students will publish or publicly post their social media campaign on school approved social media platforms to bring awareness to and promote the prevention of looting, vandalism and graffiti to cultural and/or natural resources in the Tennessee Valley.

If student privacy is a concern, posts can be created on Google Slides and displayed around the school vs. posting publicly. Student work can also be posted under approved school accounts (Example: School STEM Twitter account) instead of the student’s social media accounts.

Lesson Resources