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Teaching about Climate Change

Addressing climate change is everyone’s responsibility, including educators. But even if you’re a teacher who believes in the importance of students learning about climate science, you may not have taken the first step toward implementing lessons on climate change because you don’t feel that it fits in with your existing curriculum. Whether you teach science or humanities classes, climate change can and should be a topic of learning and discussion with your students, and Share My Lesson is here to help.

In English Language Arts

Reading literature and articles about climate change is a great way to begin addressing this topic. The Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, a Share My Lesson contributor, offers a variety of resources. One helpful introduction is the lesson “Climate Strike: Images and Voices,” which allows students to examine the words and pictures of people their own age who participated in the worldwide climate strikes in September. If your students need more context, the resource “Youth Lead a Climate Strike” provides important background information. Additionally, students can read Kindred Spirits’ interview with climate change activist and artist Lindsay Carron to see how the environment and climate change affect her work.

In Social Studies

To effectively approach the topic of climate change in a social studies classroom, turn to current events in Share My Lesson’s “Today’s News, Tomorrow’s Lesson” section. For example, students can learn about young climate change activist Greta Thunberg thanks to a current events activity from PBS NewsHour Extra, a Share My Lesson partner. This resource also provides guiding questions that can help teachers engage in discussions about climate change with their students.

In “Living with Less Water,” from the Global Oneness Project, another Share My Lesson contributor, students can learn how climate change affects various communities within the United States. For instance, students can explore the impact of climate change on California’s droughts and wildfires. In another lesson, “At-Risk Communities,” students can study the impact of rising sea levels in Alaska. As an extension, students can then explore how climate change is affecting their own local areas.

For more of a global focus, “What is Climate Change?” is a resource in which students learn what climate change is, how it affects them and the world, and what different countries can do to counteract it. Students can also learn about the risks of climate change to certain countries in particular, such as those in South America, with the lesson “Communities on the Threshold of Change.”

In Science

Of course, science class is the most obvious fit for lessons on climate change. Share My Lesson’s partner the Alliance for Climate Education offers “Our Climate Our Future,” a resource featuring videos paired with lessons on the origins of climate change, as well as climate justice impacts and potential climate solutions. Another lesson, “Climate Change as a Scientific Theory,” engages students in studying climate change through glaciers and sea ice melt, which scientists examine in their work.

We hope these resources empower you and your students in understanding climate change and addressing its effects. If you have additional ideas or requests, please reach out to us at content@sharemylesson.com.

–THE SHARE MY LESSON TEAM

American Educator, Winter 2019-2020
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Weather and Climate

Aeronauts movie poster

Students can learn more about weather and climate research by watching the movie The Aeronauts. Inspired by true events, the father of meteorology, James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne), and his fictional daredevil balloon copilot, Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones), break the world altitude record in a hot air balloon. This action-packed film lays the groundwork for any study on climate change. The AFT Science Cadre partnered with Amazon Studios to develop lessons for the film on hot air balloons, weather, layers of the atmosphere, and women in science, among other topics.