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Photo by Mike Newbry via Unsplash


Physical Geography


6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, Geography


90 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Oregon


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

How Do Wildfires Disproportionately Affect Marginalized Communities?

Last Updated:
Apr 24, 2024
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In this lesson, students will examine the 2020 Almeda Fire in Oregon and explore the disproportionate impacts of wildfires.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students discuss wildfires, wildfire impacts, and climate emotions and explore a wildfire simulator.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn about the connection between climate change and wildfires and examine the Almeda Fire by watching a video, reading an article, and answering comprehension questions.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students choose from a menu of action-oriented options to demonstrate their knowledge of wildfires and their disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson clearly explains the connection between climate change and wildfires.

  • This lesson allows students to realize how wildfires disproportionately impact different groups of people. It provides space for students to better understand the concept of climate justice.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Be sensitive to the needs of your students if they have been personally impacted by wildfire. Depending on the circumstances, this lesson may not be appropriate or may need to be adapted for your class.

  • This lesson assumes that students have prerequisite knowledge of climate change, including understanding the basic science behind climate change.

  • Each student will need access to a device in order to play with the Wildfire Simulation. If each student does not have a device, students may share devices. If there are no devices for students, teacher can project and play with the Wildfire Simulation on an interactive whiteboard.


  • Pay close attention to how student groups are formed in the jigsaw activity during the Investigate section. Students will be jointly constructing meaning from reading different parts of the article. Groups of students with varying reading levels will probably work best, as high-achieving peers can model meaning-making for students at lower reading levels.

  • It may be best to steer students toward one or more options in the menu in the Inquire section, depending on their ability and preference for demonstrating their knowledge.

  • In the Inquire section, it may not be possible for any or all of your students to create a wildfire emergency supply kit. Gathering and paying for all of those items is expensive. Be sensitive to your students. In some cases, it may be best to remove that option from the menu before sharing it with your students.

Scientist Notes

This engaging lesson helps students comprehend what wildfires are, the climatic factors that could start them and speed up their spread, and the potential losses and harm that they could do to vulnerable and marginalized populations. The wildfire simulator has been evaluated and is suitable for use by students. Additionally, the lesson's videos and other supporting resources have been examined, and this lesson has passed our science credibility process.


Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to Oregon standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on the Oregon Climate Education Hub.
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