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Adapting to a Changing World

Secondary

Description

In this unit, students assess individual and national opinions on climate change and explore strategies that communities are employing to adapt to aspects of climate change that are already affecting them or may affect them in the future. They will complete a survey on one's "climate change personality"and compare the class results to national results; distinguish between climate change mitigation and adaption; and read brief case studies about the insurance industry's response to climate change, the "Room for the River" program in the Netherlands, and city planning for heat waves. Based on these examples and knowledge of their own community, they will suggest possible adaptation strategies that will be most beneficial to their area. The teaching collection here can be applied as a stand alone day of instruction or as part of the complete Climate of Change InTeGrate Module. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource is particularly useful in strengthening student skills in reading and interpreting maps and graphs and in organizing and presenting material.

Strengths

The resource strengths include:

Relevance - discussion and debate over mitigation and adaptation strategies are likely to occupy a considerable amount of public discourse in the immediate and long term.

Pedagogy - the use of case studies within the context of a gallery walk requires students to take responsibility for their learning.

Supporting materials - the resource has considerable background information to help teachers and students understand the complexity of the challenges involved in mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Students should have an awareness of the concept of anthropogenic climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as measured trends in greenhouse gas emissions before undertaking this unit of study. It may be regarded as a concluding unit to a study of climate change that has had students investigate the causes and consequences of climate change. If this required background understanding is not in place, teachers may wish to make use of the other modules in this series.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 11
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      • Social Studies
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        • Social Studies 11: Human Geography
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Geography
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        • Geography 12:Weather and Climate
        • Physical Geography 12: Interactions between human activities and the atmosphere affect local and global weather and climate
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        • Urban Studies 12: Urban planning decisions and other government policies can dramatically affect the overall quality of life in cities
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        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
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        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
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        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Advanced Environmental Science 120:Introduction to the human sphere
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        • Canadian Geography 120:A Geographic Perspective on a Current Canadian Issue
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        • Canadian Economics 2203:Economic Issues
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        • Environmental Science 3205: The Atmosphere and the Environment
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        • World Geography 3200/3202: World Climate Patterns
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        • Geology 12: Environmental Geology
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      • Environmental Studies
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        • Environmental Studies 35: Northern Climate
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
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        • Impacts of Change
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        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Community Action
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
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        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
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        • Contemporary World: Environment
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        • Environmental Science 20: Atmospheric Systems
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      • Social Studies
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        • Social Studies 11: Human Geography

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students are introduced to the variety of opinion groups  (alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful,or dismissive)               identified in a Yale study on American attitudes to climate change and asked to decide which of these categories is most descriptive of their own 'climate personality'. Once the individual data has been collected, a comparison can be made between the 'class personality' and the 'national personality. No attempt is made to impose a 'right personality'. 

The various case studies used to illustrate climate adaptation are intended to inform students of something of the variety of possible responses rather than convert students to a particular response. 

Finally, students are encouraged to give thought to the possible affect of climate change on their community and what adaptive strategies might be pursued locally.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The study of the cause, effects and possible responses to climate change provides an excellent opportunity for students to explore the the interplay of environmental, economic, and social considerations. Students will recognize how our economic activity is alternating our atmospheric environment and the social and other"costs" we are being asked to pay.

The examples offered to illustrate adaptation further illustrate this interplay. The Dutch response recognizes the need to work with rather than against the environment. The insurance industry case studies are examples of the use of financial incentives and dis - incentives to leverage changes in people's behavior. The use of cool roofs to reduce the impact of extreme heat waves illustrates societies talent for innovation. 

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The survey of America's climate change personality, revealing as it does the spectrum of positions its citizens hold about climate change, helps students realize the difficulty of taking action when no consensus exists.

The examples of ways in which we might adapt to climate change indicate something of the complexity of the issue and the range of possible responses, while helping students realize that these responses are expensive and not within the financial capacity of many nations. Students must then weight the cost of adaptation against the cost of doing nothing. 

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

The resource suggest that following their investigation of the case studies provided, students examine their local community to identify possible adaptation strategies that will be most beneficial to their area. 

InTeGrate supports this particular teaching module and others with a number of complementary resources, one of which is 'Connect to the World We Live In' , which includes information on service learning and how students may get out into their communities and apply their knowledge to concrete problems of high interest to people who live there.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

The module encourages student reflection on their own beliefs about the existence of climate change, human's contribution to climate change, and the potential impact of climate change on society. Further opportunities are provided for reflection on the inequity associated with respect to the causes and consequences of climate change and the need for climate resilience in industrialized and developing countries.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

While exploring the different strategies for mitigation or adaptation in responding to the challenges posed by climate change, students will recognize that such strategies are costly and not available to all societies. Such considerations may be expected to lead to a broader discussion of social inequities and justice within the context of climate change. 

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

In examining the larger topic of adapting to climate change, students are required to consider the link between natural phenomena such as floods, heat waves, droughts and climate change. The case studies provided to illustrate this link and the suggestion that students look at their local communities in this context will make students more aware of their natural environment and the potential changes to that environment resulting from climate change. 

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

Students are asked to compare the national climate change profile with their own profile and that of their classmates. After investigating a number of case studies describing how institutions or communities have mitigated the effects of or adapted to climate change, students use these examples in combination with their knowledge of their own community to suggest possible adaptation strategies that will be most beneficial to their area.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The focus of the module is on current practices aimed at mitigating or adapting to climate change and possible future responses. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The first segment of the lesson module has students reflect on their degree of concern with respect to climate change by placing themselves on a spectrum with 'alarmed' at one end and 'dismissive' at the other. There is no 'correct' spot on the spectrum and discussion among students as to why they occupied the position they did allows for a multitude of perspectives to be heard.

The second segment of the module involves a 'gallery walk' in which students working in groups examine a number of case studies illustrating climate change adaptation strategies. They are required to discuss and answer a number of related questions some of which are of a factual and others more open-ended, thereby allowing for an exchange of views.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

The organization responsible for this and related modules is called InTeGrate and its banner describes it purpose as providing interdisciplinary teaching resources about Earth and a sustainable future.

The module includes several case studies of climate change adaptation, one of which investigates adjustments made by insurance companies, a second examines the use of metal roofs as a response to growing heat waves, and the third outlines strategies used in the Netherlands to deal with the possibility of increased flooding. Taken together, the case studies have relevance for courses in Economics, Science, Geography, World Issues and Environmental Science.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

In the Gallery Walk segment of the module, teams of students rotate around the classroom, composing answers to prescribed questions, while reflecting on the answers other students have provided. The technique closes with an oral presentation or "report out" in which each group synthesizes comments to a particular question. This combination of teacher direction and student response is in keeping with the principles of guided inquiry.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

The module combines a number of teaching strategies. The climate personality survey requires students to reflect upon and defend their perspective on climate change. The Gallery Walk gets students out of their chairs and encourages students to speak the language of climate adaptation rather than simply hearing it from the teacher.

The module also includes relevent images, radio broadcasts and media clips for those students who benefit from auditory or visual components in the lesson plan.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

There is more 'doing' in this module than 'listening'. Doing includes students comparing their and their classes climate change personality with that of the nation; working in teams as part of a gallery tour of climate change adaptation strategies; and presenting an oral report on their understanding of and position on various adaptation strategies.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

The Gallery Walk activity requires that students work in teams in which they discuss questions posed, try to reach consensus on their answers to those questions and organize an oral presentation that reflects the team's perspective on the issue being investigated.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Several suggestions are provided to help teachers assess the effectiveness of the gallery walk strategy. General suggestions for formal and informal assessment of gallery walks are outlined in a related website. Informal evaluation may consist of the teacher simply rotating between groups and making sure each group is on task. There is further opportunity to observe and assess student learning during the report out phase and during class discussion relating to the report out. Example of questions that can be asked disengaged students during a gallery walk are also provided.

For more formal evaluation, a section is included that contains rubrics for grading the quality of group participation, oral presentations, and written work 

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good

The team approach to the gallery walk encourages students to share perceptions and ideas about the topic under consideration and to cooperate in creating and delivering a report on their findings.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

The gallery walk has students focus on a number of case studies that illustrate some of the adaptation measures that have been introduced in response to the challenges of climate change.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

The guided inquiry approach used in the module has teachers and students sharing the responsibility for learning. The teacher presents the questions for student investigation and provides a framework for that investigation but authority then shifts to the students as they work through the process.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.