November 23rd – Tools for Teaching and Article Reflection


Using Climate Change as a Teaching Tool

I agree with the author of this article (Bill McKibben) that social studies has to do with so much more than how we care for others. I think it really needs to encompass how we care for and about our planet – our space, of abiotic and biotic natural things in their entirety, both locally and far away. If enough of us refuse to care, our world is soon going to become a place so unhealthy that the vast majority of people will be struggling to to survive. Environmental issues have made that a reality for many communities today. I think teaching students to care for their planet teaches them to link ahead, to predict, assess, and look for preventions as well as solutions. Therefore it incorporates scientific processes in a really meaningful way.

The author says something that I think is so important, in this article. “[we]e need to be drawn in, seduced by the pleasure of imagining new futures. Because plan A — going on just like we are now — won’t work, we need a plan B. And the younger you are, the easier it is to envision that plan B, because you’re not as locked in by decades of habit or economic necessity. […]  Simply to think about recess is to understand the pleasure of doing things together, not one by one. Those lessons about community — about how to work with one another — will be more important in solving the environmental crisis than any piece of new technology. ” I like how McKibben mentions the importance of community to evironmental education. It is twofold: I think it is important because, if we see others excited about helping the environment, we (or at least I am) more likely to get excited ourselves. Positivity is infectious – just like negativity is. Secondly, and most importantly, is learning that it is often healthier for us as social beings, AND for the environment, to do things together. We can’t take on the world ourselves. Sometimes we need to ask for help – sometimes, we need to give it. Why do something twice and strain the Earth twice as much, when you can do it once (carpooling for example)? Historically there has been this huge push to do things independently, to be a Lone Ranger, and if people don’t start learning to make compromises and share with one another, not only are we going to have social tensions, we will most definitely have environmental ones too.

Bill McKibben. (October 4, 2007). Editor’s Note: Climate Change as a Teaching Tool. Retrieved November 30, 2015 from



An idea Josie and I had come up with for an activity is having students learn a bit about carbon footprints, and then take a quiz to see how much of an impact they have on the environment.

Earth Day – Global Ecological Footprint Calculator

This website offers options for adults and kids, with both more detailed or less detailed (faster) quizzes depending on the time we have. There are so many ideas for ways we can be improving our ecological footprint. Unfortunately I don’t think they all relate to global warming (but moreso the environment in general) but as a class we could pick out which ones we think relate to global warming and explain how.

From there, the rest of our lesson could be students brainstorming goals to write about in their journal. They can ask – why did that question on that quiz relate to global warming? Is it something I could maybe improve? Some question I can prompt them with are: What is your goal – what do you want to have done by a certain date? What are you going to do to achieve it? Has it been met?

At the end of our goal period we can have discussions about how we changed, and if we experienced any other benefits along the way. For example if they chose to bike instead of take the bus to school, they might comment on how much healthier they feel from physical exercise.

We could perhaps do another carbon footprint quiz to see if their impact went down. Or, if they helped out in a smaller way that can’t really be tracked by the quiz – we still want to celebrate that. As long as students can back up how what they are doing (or stopping doing) is related to making our world a healthier place, we are good.

(n.d.) Footprint Calculator. Retrieved November 30, 2015 from



Another tool I thought we could use is An Interactive Globe Looking at Global Warming. If you already have Google Earth downloaded, just click on the ‘Interactive Google Earth Layer’ download from the above website, and it will open Google Earth with that special layer over top. From there, you and your students can click on different parts of the world (allowing for awesome geographic exploration of a globe, which is especially prevalent in the Grade 3 Dynamic Relationships curriculum) and a climate chart will pop up. The site says: “The move is part of an ongoing effort to make data about past climate and climate change as accessible and transparent as possible.” The site claims that weather data goes back hundreds of years in some areas! I think it is great that as teachers we can introduce students to graphing, global warming, and understanding changing trends in climates around the world, while still being able to focus on our home location (or whatever specific location we may be looking at in a class), without having to chase information all over the Internet. It is all in one place and is literally at our fingertips. This makes it easy to incorporate awareness of global warming into almost any lesson where a location is being explored.

Nuccitelli, Dana. (February 4, 2014). Google Earth: how much as global warming raised temperatures near you? Retrieved November 30, 2015 from


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