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Climate change - who's in control?

Secondary

Description

Students participate in a role play to explore the question of 'who should take responsibility for reducing the effects of climate change'.  Using background information provided, students represent different perspectives in a discussion/debate as to whether or not they would support a national commitment of greater emission reductions than those proposed by other countries.

The lessons conclude with students calculating their own carbon footprints and considering what practical action they are personally prepared to take to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Designed to take place over 3 class sessions, the resource provides support for students and teachers in both print and video formats.

General Assessment

Strengths

- climate change  represents one of the greatest challenges facing the planet and its inhabitants and responding to it requires that we understand its impact and what can be done by whom.

- the use of  role playing/debate to explore issues is effective in engaging students as is the segment that has them consider how their understanding will inform their actions.

 - teachers are provided with a useful outline of the climate change conferences prior to Paris and their position on the issues raised by the resource.

Weaknesses

The resource was prepared before the Paris conference on climate change where the issue of responsibility for meeting the goals for greenhouse reduction and mitigating measures were addressed. This should not, negate the value of having students examine the competing perspectives on this issue. Teachers should, however, make students aware of the decisions reached at Paris.  

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students will have an opportunity to practice and enhance the skills associated with 

. gathering and organizing information

. presenting and defending a position on a given issue

. asking relevant questions to clarify their understanding

. weighing competing arguments

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The resource supports the teaching of Science and Environmental Science units that have students examine the causes and consequences of climate change as well as Geography units that require students to explore human impact on the environment. Other areas support by these lessons include:

  • Political Science/ Civics courses that investigate the responsibility of governments to regulate on behalf of society and citizens to act for the common good
  • . Economic courses that study the real cost of producing goods and alternatives to GNP in measuring progress
  • .English Language courses that require students to present and defend a position on a controversial issue.

The resource is a good example of what might be done if one were advocating an integrated approach to teaching and learning. 

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Generation
  • Governance (1)

    • International Relations
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Justice
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students are assigned roles that are intended to reflect the spectrum of perspectives involved in the debate over responsibility for and response to climate change. Roles are assigned to individuals representing the industrial nations, nations in the developing world, climate change campaigners, the science community and industry.

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 role playing exercise helps students understand something of the complexity of the issue of climate change and the environmental, economic, and social implications that must be considered in any plan to reduce greenhouse gases. Roles have been assigned to individuals or organizations that are intended to to give voice to those who are charged with articulating the environmental concerns associated with climate change (Environmental Secretary, climate change campaigner); those whose livelihood is threatened by increased drought or flooding ( Bangladesh farmer, Maasai community leader); those who argue that regulations will harm their business interests (Chinese business man, airline representative.

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 role playing exercise asks students to vote for or against a proposal by the UK government to reduce carbon emissions by a larger percentage than many other countries. In listening to the debate around the proposal, students gain an appreciation of the factors they must consider in casting their vote and in the debriefing that follows students must explain why they voted as they did and who in the debate made the arguments they found most convincing. This format exposes students to the competing perspectives and better ensures that their vote will be an informed one that recognizes the impact of any option. 

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Good

The resource includes a final lesson in which students move from a discussion of the responsibility nations must assume with respect to causing and addressing climate change to what individuals may do. Students are asked, What will you do? and in responding to the challenge evaluate the difficulty of each of a number of suggestions. This commitment questionnaire ensures that students are made aware of the options for individual action, the challenges presented by each, and their own level of commitment to make lifestyle changes.

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 Very Good

The resource asks students to consider the consequences of our actions,-both at the national and personal level - on others and what we are prepared to do to mitigate the harm done. Debating the issue of responsibility and taking action accordingly requires that students assess their personal values.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

The resource gives voice to those who have little responsibility for climate change but whose lives will be dramatically affected by the consequences. Sharon Looremeta speaks for those people in Kenya who have lost 10 million livestock animals and where two thirds of the population have lost their livelihood to the affects of drought.

Tara Begum speaks for those people in Bangladesh who now face two to three floods each year rather than the traditional monsoon season

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

While the focus of the resource is not to encourage student affinity with the natural world, it may be expected that any discussion of the impact of climate change will consider how nature will be affected in terms of the the destruction of habitat,and the loss of species. Teachers may wish to insert these considerations into the presentation made by the climate change campaigner or raise them in the debriefing following the debate.   

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 first segment of the resource focuses on national and international responsibility in addressing climate change.The concluding segment concerns itself with what individuals in the school and local community may do to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Teachers may also take advantage of the debriefing following the debate and vote to discuss local examples of the organizations that have been created to represent the competing perspectives in the role play and debate.

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 resource references the past in raising the issue of responsibility for climate change, the present in terms of its current impact, and the future in debating how we must respond to the challenges presented.

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 Very Good

The resource is structured so that students need to vote on a proposal that would require the UK to reduce emissions by a larger percentage than any other country. Only two answers are possible - Yes or No - but before casting their vote they must participate in a role playing/debate that is intended to make them aware of the variety of responses that others may articulate and the reasons for those positions. The answer is the students and the responsibility for defending that answer is the students.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

The resource supports the teaching of Science and Environmental Science units that have students examine the causes and consequences of climate change; Geography units that require students to explore resource use and human impact on the environment: Political Science/ Civics courses that investigate the responsibility of governments to regulate on behalf of society and citizens to act for the common good; Economic courses that study the real cost of producing goods and alternatives to GNP in measuring progress. English Language courses that require students to present and defend a position on a controversial issue. The resource is therefore a good example of what might be done if one were advocating an integrated approach to teaching and learning. 

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

The teaching format posits a question for student consideration - Should the UK do more than some other countries in meeting the challenges of climate change? - and ask that they investigate the issue, arrive at a decision, defend that position , and take personal action in accordance with that decision. 

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

Teachers and students have some latitude in deciding on who does what as they proceed through each lesson in the resource and therefore there is an opportunity to assign or adopt tasks in accordance with the interests and abilities of the students. The resource does, as it should , require all students to take a position and defend that position.

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

The question posed to the students - What level of responsibility do nations, organizations, and individuals have in meeting the challenges of climate change? - is a critical one and the decisions made will have profound affects for the future. The students can expect to be part of that debate. The resource's use of a role playing simulation to engage them in that debate is an effective beginning.

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

The role playing/debate format adopted by the resource requires that students be divided into groups, elect a spokesperson to play the role and share the responsibility for the research needed to put their viewpoint forward and plan their questions for others. 

Students also work in groups as part of the "Taking Practical Action" segment in which they gauge their own level of commitment to making lifestyle changes and hopefully decide to form a school eco group. 

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 Satisfactory

The resource allows to teachers to evaluate the level of student understanding as they listen to the the role playing presentation, the debate that follows and the questions students put to others in deciding how they will cast their vote. The various student worksheets provide a further indication of the level of student learning.

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 role playing/debate format, followed by a question period in which students ask questions of those who were the voice of various perspectives, allows students to "teach" other students.

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 Satisfactory

The roles assumed by students in preparing for and participating in the debate, while fictional, represent real life situations of various individuals and groups faced with 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 Satisfactory

The resource outlines an effective format - gather, organize, and present relevant information - to help students understand the consequences of and the responsibility for addressing climate change. Students have a degree of autonomy within this format in determining who will do what, what arguments will be made in defense of a position, and what questions will be asked.

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.