Here’s to all teachers and educators returning to the classroom, wherever that might be for you. And what a first week it’s been. Below are some of our most popular posts that may be helpful as the new school year begins.
Teaching climate change? We will post information as soon as we have it on how to help Houston-area educators and students as they recover from massive flooding. (If this is you, and you have the bandwidth, please let us know what would be helpful, and we will amplify!) If you are currently on dry ground, here are resources for helping students encounter the basic science and impacts of climate change in the classroom.
One of the more frustrating experiences we’ve had lately was clicking on a link for NOAA climate change game, only to find that the climate kids portion of the site is not live.
This isn’t really a surprise. But we expect better from our administration.
In the meantime, here are some climate change resources that are still available. In our experience, games and simulations can be among the best ways to help students really understand just what climate change is, how it works, and what we can do at this point to interfere with the negative outcomes. Here’s a great example of how this can work from The New York Times.
For readers with a little more time, here’s a 2015 paper from Nature that we highly recommend, “Climate change games as tools for education and engagement,” written by Jason S. Wu and Joey J. Lee. From the abstract:
We argue that games on the subject of climate change are well-suited to address these challenges because they can serve as e ective tools for education and engagement. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the development of such games, many featuring innovative designs that blur traditional boundaries (for example, those that involve social media, alternative reality games, or those that involve direct action upon the real world). Here, we present an overview of the types of climate change game currently available, the bene ts and trade-o s of their use, and reasons why they hold such promise for education and engagement regarding climate change.
World Climate is a simplified international climate change negotiations meeting for large groups, typically 8-50 people (although it has been adapted for use in groups as large as 500). A facilitator leads the group, playing the role of a UN leader, while each participant plays the role of a delegate representing a specific nation, negotiating bloc, or, in some cases, an interest group. Everyone then works together in their respective roles to reach a global agreement that successfully keeps climate change well below 2˚C over preindustrial levels globally.
Simulation events vary in length, but most run 2-3 hours. Condensed versions have been run in as short as 45 minutes.
During the event participants must face the climate science, engage in the drama and tensions of global politics, test their ambitions against a climate-modeling tool used by actual climate negotiators, and then reflect on how the experience challenges their assumptions about climate action.
World Climate is suitable for, and has been used with, people from middle school to graduate school students, community and religious groups, executive leaders, scientists, and everyone in between.
Pop on over even just to take a look at the interactive map of where others have hosted their own World Climate Simulations. Good inspiration to become your own marker on the map.
The BBC has an online game available to all who have Flash. You’re playing as a member of the EU, so it might not be incredibly up-to-date, but it’s worth a visit. Notable also is the attention given to explaining the science behind the game design.
For now, we are pleased to report, the EPA climate site for students is live. Via this site, students can take a virtual Climate Change Expedition and learn some of the basics about climate change. Each stop contains a short video, and students will be collecting passport codes as they go. Educator resources for the site can be found here.
A HUGE thank you to those who have already stopped by. Responses are already helping us figure out what we’ll be working on next, how to bring you more of what’s been helpful, and what you might like to see that we haven’t done quite yet.
We are also about to begin a project preserving stories from educators in this national moment. If you’d like to talk with us, anonymously or otherwise, about how things are for you and your students, right here and now, we’d love to hear from you. (And you can indicate that on our survey.)
We are looking for 40 Bay Area English, science, social studies or VAPA educators who teach grades 8-12 to pilot a new project starting this summer and continuing into fall of 2017.
The project will feature curriculum, media-making resources and professional development for teachers to support students in investigating questions and creating media about their findings. Using an online publishing platform, students will be able to work with peers both in their own classroom and other classrooms in a safe space where they can seek authentic feedback, support and inspiration. Students will access this platform through their teacher (similar to Google Classroom), and student work will not be visible to anyone not participating in the project.
Head on over to the link above to read more and apply. Get moving–applications close 3/24!
This teaching guide includes a lesson plan originally published as “Smithsonian in Your Classroom.” It introduces students to the work of botanists and botanical illustrators, specifically their race to make records of endangered plant species around the world. The students try their own hands at botanical illustration, following the methods of a Smithsonian artist. Also included here are additional resources on the topic, a one-hour webinar and a website.
The site covers nine topic areas: Health Care, Women’s Rights, Gun Control, Criminal Justice, Energy/Environment, Higher Ed, Economy/Trade, National Security, and Immigration.
For each area, it provides background information (what is the current state of affairs?), a data chart or table, and links to additional resources, including the administration’s published plans, more extensive data, and secondary material from outlets like the Union of Concerned Scientists and The New York Times.
It’s a really cool site you can take in lots of directions!
♣ The Resources ♣
Green, Matthew. (2017, Jan). Trump’s First 100 Days: What He Wants to Do and What He Can Do (with Lesson Plan). KQED’s The Lowdown. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown.
There are lots of online resources for teaching about race and its basis or lack thereof in biology. This is one topic that really does lie at the intersection of science and social science.
The motivation behind the sites described below is to de-couple skin color’s social meaning from its evolutionary purpose. For a popular science discussion of race and science to ground yourself, you might start with “What Science Says About Race and Genetics” (Time, 2014).
AAAS also provides a lesson plan on skin color, Variation in Human Skin Color. As we noted above, it aims to distinguish the biological purpose of skin tone from its social meaning:
Skin color is an alterable characteristic that results from adaptation in a specific environment that has survival value for the organism and may then be perpetuated by the process of natural selection.
Focusing on the biological similarity that underlies skin-color variations should equip students to critically evaluate the improper use of differences in skin color to divide humans into distinct races.
An additional resource is PBS’s portal, Race: The power of an Illusion (c.2003), complete with background readings and resources. (If the links don’t work, try a different browser).
We’re curious to know: Are there other resources you recommend?