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Our Changing Climate for Grades 6 to 12

Secondary, Middle

Description

Six interdisciplinary lessons offer a thorough description of climate change basics.  Attention is paid to foundational concepts, including atmosphere composition, heat-trapping gases, the greenhouse effect and global warming.  Activities examine global and regional impacts of a changing climate with special attention given a rapidly changing Arctic.  Students also evaluate their own contributions to climate change and consider steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Activity 1.  In ‘Jigsaw’ format, students complete and share findings from three readings (provided) that describe the composition of the atmosphere and the role played by carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in sustaining life and promoting climate change.

Activity 2.  Working cooperatively, students examine data (provided) that illustrate how the rise in global temperature over time correlates with an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.  After considering human sources of emissions, students complete a carbon footprint exercise that illustrates heat-trapping gases for which they are directly responsible.  

Activity 3. Working in small groups, students prepare and present short skits based on assigned readings (provided) to illustrate the effects of a changing climate on the different plant and animal communities making up Arctic ecosystems.

Activity 4. In this jigsaw activity, students explore three feedback loops that illustrate how climate change in the Arctic is significant and has far-reaching environmental and economic effects on the rest of the planet.

Activity 5.  Students examine a range of economic, social and environmental problems created by climate change based on their analysis of articles (provided) describing five different regions of the world .

Activity 6. Groups of students brainstorm actions to combat climate change, consider the pros and cons of each and share their recommendations with their classmates. As a culminating activity, students write letters to local officials expressing their personal suggestions / concerns.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • analyzing carbon footprints
  • building consensus
  • letter writing
  • oral presentation
  • explaining / teaching

Strengths

  • the resource is thorough and easy to use
  • each lesson provides detailed implementation instructions for teachers
  • there are direct links to all supporting and supplementary resources
  • an emphasis is placed on peer teaching
  • While designed to be used in its entirety, teachers may choose to select individual lessons.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Although developed for a grade 6-12 audience, the resource will be most useful for climate change education in grades 7-10.

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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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 6
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      • Science
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        • Earth Systems: Understandings of the living world, Earth, and space are deepened through investigating natural systems and their interactions.
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      • Science
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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      • Science
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        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
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    • Grade 6
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      • Social Studies
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        • Global Issues and Governance: Complex global problems require international cooperation to make difficult choices for the future.
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      • Science
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        • Science 7: Earth and its climate have changed over geological time
    • Grade 11
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
        • Environmental Science 11:Humans can play a role in stewardship and restoration of ecosystems
      • Science
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        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Science
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        • Specialized Science 12: Climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystem health
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 12
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      • Science
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        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
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    • Grade 11
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      • Geography
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        • Physical Geography 110: The Atmosphere
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
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        • Environmental Science 3205: The Atmosphere and the Environment
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Climatology and Meteorology
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
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    • Grade 9
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      • Social Studies
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        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Environment
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      • Environmental Science
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        • AP Environmental Science: Earth Systems and Resources
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      • Science
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Climatology and Meteorology
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
  • Ontario
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        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: The Study of the Universe
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        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: Climate Change
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
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        • Forces of Nature: Physical Processes and Disasters (Univ./College Prep.): The Physical Environment: Sustainability and Stewardship
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      • Geography
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        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
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    • Grade 9
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        • Interdependence: Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Environment in the Global Community
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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?
        • Geography 631A Global Issues: What are the issues?
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        • The Contemporary World: Environment
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        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
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        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Issues and Governance: Complex global problems require international cooperation to make difficult choices for the future.
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Earth and its climate have changed over geological time
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Specialized Science 12: Climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystem health

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Much of the information provided is based on climate science.  Many of the activities and assignments involve case-studies and are data-driven. Great care is taken in the instructions NOT to direct students to take a particular position.

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 Good

Lessons 4 and 5 specifically address the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change in the Arctic and other regions of the world.

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 student readings, activities and assignments all illustrate the complexity of climate change causes and solutions.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Students are asked to write a letter to a local 'decision maker' expressing their opinions or concerns about climate change/climate action.

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

Students are asked to reflect on their own feelings in both the in-class and homework assignments.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

Opportunities to highlight the plight of those seriously impacted by climate change can be realized in lesson 5.

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

Lessons 4 and 5 in particular help focus student attention on the natural environment.

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 and opportunities for students to express their own ideas and concerns helps bring relevance and a local focus to the learning.

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 Satisfactory

Lesson 2 addresses changes in carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperatures over time.

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

Activities require students to think critically and make predictions based on their own analysis of the information provided.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Activities incorporate themes and concepts from science, geography and to a lesser extent, social studies.

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 Satisfactory
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

Much of the resource involves students reading and responding. A variety of reading approaches (silent, aloud, choral) are used and supported by responding activities that include oral presentations, skits and written composition.

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

The carbon footprint, letter writing and skit activities provide some authentic experience to the learning.

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 Very Good

All lessons incorporate elements of cooperative learning.

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 Poor/Not considered

Assessment tools or directions are not included in the resource.

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 Very Good

In 4 of the 6 lessons students are given the responsibility for teaching their peers.

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

Several lessons are built on case studies provided by the resource.

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

Limited opportunities are provided.

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.