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Making Sense of the Climate Emergency

Elementary, Middle

Description

Young people are worried about the environmental crisis that threatens the future of our planet.  This “eco-anxiety” is precipitated by real events that are happening around the world as a result of global warming.  The devastating floods, droughts and forest fires that impact humanity will only worsen unless we take immediate action.  This resource encourages empowerment through a series of interactive discussions where students:

  • Explore climate change impacts.
  • Analyze and reflect on personal feelings about climate change.
  • Investigate strategies that support community adaptability to threats like flooding.
  • Define personal sustainability goals.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Critical thinking.
  • Cooperative learning.
  • Reflection.
  • Describing thoughts and feelings.

Strengths

  • Provides extensive links to other sources of information.
  • Supported by an online slide presentation.
  • Links with Oxfam's "Climate Challenge" activities.

Weaknesses

  • Does not contain any hands-on activities to support learning.
  • Does not provide any assessment tools.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports science outcomes related to climate and sustainable development.  The content also develops civic engagement skills as students discuss a real-world problem and analyze possible solutions with an emphasis on individual action for global change.  Wellness strategies such as identifying feelings and describing emotions strengthens health and wellness goals.

The lesson provides an excellent introduction to a classroom action project focused on developing climate awareness in the local community.  Students could offer climate talks at the local library or deliver presentations to municipal councils when issues such as public transportation are being discussed.  The class could also develop an in-school carbon reduction plan that identifies easily adoptable practices such as turning off lights in empty classrooms and establishing a “no-idle” policy.

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 3
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world.
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world
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        • Global Indigenous Peoples:Indigenous societies throughout the world value the well-being of the self, the land, spirits, and ancestors
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        • Science 4:Properties and Uses of Earth Materials:Science Technology Society and Environment (STSE)
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        • Global Indigenous Peoples:Indigenous societies throughout the world value the well-being of the self, the land, spirits, and ancestors

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Quality of Life

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

While recognizing the immediate effects of events like flooding, this resource also develops an understanding of the indirect impacts of climate change on the overall well-being of citizens.  Struggles faced by the poorest communities are exacerbated by catastrophic events such as crop failures.  Daily subsistence becomes plagued by stress and anxiety and an already reduced quality of life worsens.

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

An important correlation between wealth and climate change is made.  The global inequality between developed and developing countries is linked to abilities to mitigate and withstand climate change effects like increased temperatures. 

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

Students are able to connect local cause and effect relationships to climate change concerns and develop an increased awareness of the collective role of individual citizenship in safeguarding our planet. 

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Students develop an understanding of the need for personal action and are able to identify personal and community sustainability goals.

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 first two activities, "Thinking about the Future" and "What do we know, think and feel about climate change?", actively engage students in considering their own emotions and thoughts about what type of world they want to live in.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

As students explore their understanding of the relationships between environmental health and poverty they will develop a deeper awareness of how people who struggle to meet basic needs are being affected by 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 Poor/Not considered
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 Poor/Not considered

To strengthen the understanding of this issue from a Canadian perspective a class could explore how northern aboriginal communities are being impacted by warming Arctic environments.

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

This resource encourages personal action and presents a positive vision for the future if we all work together to create cleaner, greener communities.

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 activities use a "learn, think, act" approach to foster active dialogue and discussion which supports personal goal setting.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

This resource supports Science and Social Studies outcomes related to sustainability and reduced energy consumption.  Students also evaluate the impacts of climate change on well-being as it pertains to stress and mental health.

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

A focus on open dialogue provides the framework for comprehensive discussions about climate change impacts which strengthens informed decisions.

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 Poor/Not considered
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 Poor/Not considered
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 Satisfactory

Students use a think-pair-share strategy to discuss ideas and formulate opinions.  Open-ended questions such as "What kind of person would you like to be?" foster active discussions among classmates.

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

There are no evaluation tools in this 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 Poor/Not considered
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 global impacts of extreme weather events on communities is discovered by creating a "Climate Change News Board" with news clippings of actual events.

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 Poor/Not considered
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.