Keywords: timber harvesting, compromise, clear cutting, selective cutting, wildlife management, silviculture, diameter limits, select cutting, high grading, shelterwood cutting; Lesson Plan Grade Level: eighth grade; Total Time Required for Lesson: two 40-minute class periods; Setting: classroom

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will develop an understanding of the strategies used for the sustainability of forests in Pennsylvania
  • Students will be able to identify the root of conflicts and develop strategies to be used for problem resolution.
  • Students will be able to identify and analyze the importance of our forests and forest management techniques; particularly in regard to the issues of tree harvesting and deer management techniques.
  • Students will identify and analyze the role that government agencies have is molding and enforcing public opinion and policy.

Materials Needed

  • chalkboard
  • notebook
  • pencil
  • teacher-generated support materials (handouts)
  • PowerPoint projector

State Standards Addressed: Civics and Government (5.2.9.C., 5.2.9.E., 5.2.9.G.)

Teaching Model: The 4MAT System (Motivation, Information, Practice, Application)

Subjects Covered: civics, PA history

Topics: the study of silviculture (the art and science of controlling forests)


  1. Make 25 copies of the teacher generated support materials.
  2. Prepare the background notes or PowerPoint for the lecture.

Doing the Activity

  1. Students will review the answers to the pretest that they took yesterday on their knowledge of key vocabulary terms and concepts related to the study of silviculture.
  2. Students will be told that today's lesson will be a hands-on application of the understanding of why people have conflicts and what methods can be used during conflict resolution. The conflict to be discussed during this particular lesson will focus around the management of our local resources and forested areas.
  3. Assign teacher generated support material for each student to read. The handout will focus on the issue of silviculture and will explain a conflict that our community could have related to the management of our forests. One of the specific conflicts that this writer has developed is that a private land owner has decided to harvest a large number of his trees for profit. His land is adjacent to a state forest and many of the townspeople are worried about what approach the landowner will take to manage his land. The town has a deer management problem in which there is an excessive doe population and there have been many vehicle accidents during the past year that have prompted concern. One of the key concerns is that if the landowner clear cuts his forest or uses selective cutting, it will hurt the scenic value of the land and also enhance the deer population crisis because they will be forced to migrate even more to the local community in search for food.
  4. After reading the teacher generated support material; each student will be assigned roles to play during a township meeting simulation. Each student must be familiar with their role in order to act out their part during the simulation. Roles for the simulation should include a private owner of a large tract of land adjacent to a state forest, townspeople who have different positions on what should be done to maintain the state forest and put pressure on the private landowner to "do the right thing," a representative from DCNR, the county forester, and a group of town commissioners. Roles may be added or deleted from this list as each educator deems appropriate.
  5. After the different alternatives to problem resolution have been identified and the township meeting has been conducted and adjudicated; allow time to have students voice their opinion as to whether the council's decision was a good one or not. You may want to do this as a written portfolio assessment post-activity evaluation.


  • Teachers' evaluation of in class participation (grading rubric)
  • Collection of the written work based on the teacher-generated support material.


Downing, Adam, Sanford Smith, James Finley, and Shelby Chunko (2000). From the Woods: Forest Stewardship . University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

Hartley, Vincent (2003). American Civics . New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston.

Smith, Sanford, and Paul Brohn (2002). Summer Key for PA Trees . University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

Smith, Sanford, Anni Davenport, Robert Hansen, Shelby Chunko, and James Finley (2000). From the Woods: Harvesting Trees. University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

Smith, Sanford, James Finley, and Michael Jacobson (2002). From the Woods: Sustainable Forestry . University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

San Julian, Gary, and Sanford Smith. (2001). From the Woods: White-Tailed Deer . University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

Wimer, Lynnette, James Finley, Steven Jones, and Ellen O'Donnell (1994). Forest Stewardship: Terminology . University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.


Joe Matson, West Branch Area High School