Education Resources

These lesson plans were designed for introductory level college courses.
We welcome your ideas to adapt these plans for other uses.

1. Sustainability Lesson Plan

This lesson plan offers an opportunity for students to discuss sustainable development using readings and videos.

First, have students read the following short articles:

Appalachian Journal – Helen Lewis

Flora and Flora’s “Community Capitals Framework”

“At its core, however, the regional movement represented a thoroughly modern effort to protect human rights and to spread the promises of security and freedom of want to a larger community of people…The problem in Appalachia, they came to agree, was not poverty or strip mining or health care alone; it was a pattern of corruption that had tainted the whole system.” (172)

— Ronald D. Eller’s Uneven Ground

Next, screen this 5 minute clip in class.

Then the class should be prepared to discuss the following questions:

Discussion Questions

  • What does sustainability mean?
  • What are ways your community (or school) is being sustainable? What are some ways they could improve?
  • Talk about the impact of “grassroots” movements. What do you believe “grassroots” means and how can this be a successful or unsuccessful means of change?
  • What are the keys to implementing sustainable practices into community businesses?
  • What are ways that you think Appalachia has been historically unsustainable? What future do you see for these practices/industries? What would you like to see?
  • What are some small scale ways that you can introduce sustainability into your life?


2. Diversity Lesson Plan

This lesson plan offers a video clip from Wales and from Appalachia as starting points for a discussion about diversity.

Begin by reading the quote and showing the two video clips to the class.

“The stereotype of Appalachia as a strictly white Anglo-Saxon region has been perpetuated by journalists, novelists, social scientists, and even many regional historians. Yet this generalization over-simplifies a more complicated — and more colorful — reality. Appalachia is not a homogenous region today, and, even historically, diversity has always been present.”

Rachel Ellen Simon, The Appalachian Voice (2014)

Use your class readings and the videos to discuss the following questions:

Discussion Questions

  • How would you define diversity?
  • Do you consider the area in which you live diverse?
  • Why is diversity important?
  • What are the keys to implementing sustainable practices into community businesses?
  • In what ways would increased diversity improve your school, you community, your region?


3. History Lesson Plan

This lesson allows students to compare and contrast the coal mining histories of Wales and Appalachia. Begin by reading the quote and screening the video clips below.

“The history of the valleys of South Wales and the mountains of eastern Kentucky is closely tied to the industrial revolution. High quality coal from both regions fed steam engines and steel mills, which helped Great Britain and the United States become dominant world powers. Immigrants flooded into these rural regions for the opportunity to earn wages in the mines.”

“The coalfields in South Wales industrialized decades before Appalachia, and much of the history of the Appalachian coalfields follows patterns set in Wales.”

After Coal

Use your class readings and the videos to explore the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  • Compare and contrast the history of coal mining in Wales and Appalachia.
  • What has been the historical impact of strikes in the region?
  • Discuss the nationalization of coal mining in Wales.
  • Do you think something like this would have worked in Appalachia? Why or why not?
  • Think about the impact “absentee ownership” would have on a different industry within your personal community.
  • Think about the history of unions in both Wales and Appalachia. What ways are they similar? What ways are they different?

4. Tourism Lesson Plan

Use related class readings, along with the quote and videos below to drive a discussion about tourism in former coal mining communities and communities in economic transition.

“Parks and natural lands provide opportunity for local residents to enjoy solitude, relaxation, and contemplation and to engage in desired recreational activities. In addition, they may add to the attractiveness of an area or raise land prices for those who live on their immediate borders. Alternatively, if recreation sites are seen to attract crowds of tourists and their resulting negative impacts (and these impacts outweigh the benefit of increased revenue), then the location of them near nonwhite or impoverished communities may represent environmental injustice. Therefore, not only must the problem of social inequity and outdoor recreation land use be considered but also the question of what type of land use is considered desirable.”

Michael A. Tarrant and Rob Porter (2001) (On behalf of the Travel and Tourism Association)

Use your class readings and the videos to explore the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  • Describe the type of community you come from. Is there a history of tourism in your home community?
    If not, do you think it would be a positive or negative addition?
  • In what ways did these communities in Wales use sustainable tourism to move beyond the loss of mining in their region? Do you think similar efforts would be possible in your community? Why or why not?
  • Is sustainability important when it comes to tourism?
  • Must tourism always be seasonal? What impact does seasonal tourism have on a community?
  • What are creative ways to combat any negative impacts of tourism?

5. Music Lesson Plan

This lesson offers an opportunity to explore music as a tool and outlet in coalfield communities.
Read the background about and watch Keep Your Eye Upon the Scale. Then, watch the video about Higher Ground and explore the discussion questions.
Keep Your Eye Upon the Scale

““Making music is a vital social function for many people who live in the region.” (xix)”

Fred C. Russell in Blue Ridge Music Trails

Discussion Questions

  • Do you come from somewhere with a strong musical heritage? If so, describe to your classmates how music was a part of your community.
  • How did music play a role in the strike movements in both Appalachia and Wales?
  • How have communities in Wales used music as a means of community building and healing after coal?
  • How have communities in Appalachia used music as a means of understanding coal’s impact on the region?
  • What are some modern examples of activist music? How are they similar to/different from the music in After Coal? In what ways can music inspire change?