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Climate Change: Connections and Solutions- Gr. 6-8

Elementary, Middle

Description

This unit consists of nine interdisciplinary lessons that introduce the complexity and interconnectedness of the climate change issue. The lessons, while designed as a package, can be used separately.

  • Lesson 1: The Carbon Link - Students take on roles as part of an interactive carbon cycle model, then witness a greenhouse effect demonstration and explore it's role in effecting climate.
  • Lesson 2: Carbon Dioxide Trends - Students graph data to examine atmospheric carbon dioxide trends during  the past 45 years. They then predict future trends based on their graph and discuss ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Lesson 3: Effects of Climate Change on Living Things - Students read scenario cards that describe the impacts of climate change on living things in a variety of ecosystems. They then share their learning through skits.
  • Lesson 4: My Carbon Footprint - Students collect information about their daily lives to calculate their own carbon footprints using an online calculator. They compare and contrast their results and discover what they can do to reduce their footprint.
  • Lesson 5: Energy Exploration - Students read about various sources of energy used in electricity production. They identify the pros and cons of these energy sources and take a position, either encouraging or discouraging the class to use a particular energy source.
  • Lesson 6: Making Climate Change Connections - Students read and share eyewitness accounts that illustrate impacts of climate change experienced by people living around the world. Together, they discuss how these effects are connected.
  • Lesson 7: How Much Does Carbon Cost - By participating in simulations and a game, students explore and compare individual limits and cap and trade limits as ways businesses are reducing emissions.
  • Lesson 8: Shopping Heats Up - Through simulation, students experience resource distribution and access to resources based on  wealth. They monitor consumption by paying attention to their environmental and social impacts.
  • Lesson 9: Energy Policies for a Cooling Future - Students compare energy use and CO2 emissions by country. They discuss energy impacts and suggest policies for addressing global climate change related to energy use at a "Summit".

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The lessons break down big ideas about climate change into manageable, understandable pieces.
  • The lessons offer current information.
  • The lessons answer questions that many students this age have about climate change.
  • The lessons are easy to use and pedagogically interesting.
  • The information for students and teachers is of good quality and quantity.

Weaknesses

  • Teaching directly about climate change to younger students can cause fear and hopelessness if action is not built in. Action ideas are extensions rather than being built into the learning.

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Analyzing one's ecological footprint.
  • Analyzing trade models.
  • Organizing and interpreting information graphically.

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (2)

    • Ecological Footprint
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (2)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Trade
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Carrying Capacity
  • Energy (1)

    • Alternative Energy
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
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
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 Very Good
  • Many elements of the issue are explored.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
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
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • Worldwide scenarios involving climate change are presented.
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 Satisfactory
  • The unit focuses on the human experience.
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
  • The Carbon Footprint activity places responsibility on individuals as does the Shopping activity.
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 Very Good
  • The unit's focus is the present and future, but a look at past carbon emmisions is used in the Trend activity.
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 lessons utilize coupled inquiry - a combination of guided and open inquiry.

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 focus is strongly rooted in social science and science content. Math and language arts also figure into the lessons.
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
  • This varies lesson to lesson.
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 Satisfactory
  • Many of the tasks are reading, talking and writing 'heavy'.
  • Adaptations are not suggested.
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 Satisfactory
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made concrete. Working with real objects,  using real sources of information
  • Good: learning takes place in a real-world context. Simulation, mentorship
  • Very good: learning provides experience beyond the classroom.  Addressing real world issues and problems 
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
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
  • The lessons rely heavily on reflection questions for assessment.
  • The extension ideas offer other suggestions that could augment assessment.
  • Weekly assessments, tests, an essay, and a 'where's it really from' activity, are provided.
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 Satisfactory
  • Lesson five requires that students learn and then share out in a loose jigsaw style.
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 Good
  • This varies lesson to lesson.
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 Satisfactory
  • The extension ideas are generally where students have opportunity to move beyond the guided inquiry.
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.