Buying into anything in today’s world can be a hard task. Considering how technology has changed our relationship with information, students can have trouble deciphering the difference between what’s true and what isn’t. This can be a challenge when it comes to getting students to understand and believe in the impacts of climate change. Students who have traveled the world on school or family trips may be able to buy into the concept of climate change more easily than students who have not traveled. Therefore, I have found that it’s up to me to find engaging, creative, inquiry-based ways to create lessons that all students can connect with.
First, I open my lesson with a powerful introduction or hook. To reach students of all learning styles, your introduction must be visually appealing and include sound. Students should be able to touch and perhaps even taste something! For example, if I am teaching a lesson about early snowmelt to students who have never experienced snow, I would fill my classroom with thousands of cotton balls to make the classroom appear to be snowed in. This will set the tone and grab students’ attention, allowing them to become a part of the snowstorm and hopefully buy into the lesson. To teach students how snow melts, I would give each student a cup of ice cubes and have them listen to the sounds the ice makes as it melts, then let them drink the water. These sensory activities will stick with students and make them eager to discover what the lesson is about.
Next, I have my students conduct their own inquiry. This gives students the autonomy to explore and research any region that has suffered climate change impacts related to early snowmelt. Giving students the opportunity to perform their own research allows them to find videos and articles that can give them a real-life connection.
Last, I reach out to teachers in areas where snow has been impacted by rising global temperatures to find pen pals for my students. This encourages students to start a dialogue through letters and pictures and gives both groups of students a chance to learn about the impacts of climate change in their respective regions. When my students are given the chance to write about the effects of climate change in their own region, they are more likely to notice the changes around them and make connections that they may not have made if they weren’t writing to students in another region!
I believe the above strategies can help teachers get their students to buy into climate change lessons, even if the students have not experienced the specific climate impacts featured in the lesson firsthand.
About the Author: Yvette Tyler
Yvette was born in Church Point, Louisiana. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from SUNY Potsdam and a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She works as an educator, writer, director, and producer. She lives between Church Point and New Orleans, Louisiana.