Back To School Blog

Climate Lessons Blog is back online after a successfully busy month of August planning, implementing and decompressing from our Fifth Annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education. To experience the Institute virtually you can visit the Summer Institute 2010 page which is still be updated with lots of videos of the Institute and interview with our speakers and participants. This year at the Institute participants were given an opportunity to reflect on the day and submit their blog to be posted. Below are some excerpts from the blogs I received.

It was really interesting to learn some of background behind the group that thinks that climate change is a hoax. It is great to have this background information to understand where the propaganda is coming from. It helped me gain an understanding behind this group and what their intent may be. I got to thinking about how I could incorporate this information into my classroom. I thought it might be interesting to the students to do some background research on these individuals and present that to the class. If that is not possible, it is still good information to talk to the students about. (Angela Engelhardt)IMG_0458

When Dr. Oreskes connected the proponnets of SDI with the climate change detractors I was blown away! I had no idea it was essentially the same group of people who were involved. Then to add the tobacco component to their resume, I was astounded at the influence a small group of people have had using the same philosophical approach. What are they going to attempt to persuade the public of next?! I am excited to go home and purchase Dr. Orsekes’ new book, Merchants of Doubt. At some point, the few have to be exposed to the public, so the reality of human impact on the environment can be full addressed. I hope it is through organizations like the Steger Foundation, book such as Dr. Orsekes’ and that more teachers will feel empowered to bring environmental education into the classroom thus enlightening the next generation. The institute had a lot of additional ah-ha moments, well worth the treck out from California to attend. Thank you for all you have do! (Monica Ward History-Social Science Teacher Ramona High School Riverside, CA)

The data regarding kids learning better after spending time outside coupled with the idea that they learn more from what we do than what we say was a good reminder for me. I have made a note to make sure to be sure to more explicitly model appreciation of the outdoors as the speaker suggested and build on the outdoors whenever possible in any of my teaching. Also the 5’C’s about how to appeal to people to change their behavior is catchy and I hope I can keep it in mind when trying to get people to follow me in my attempts to mitigate climate change: common experience, civility, core values, citizenship, community (Sharon Gloster)

What has always been a real struggle for me is how to “adapt” my own personal concern regarding Climate Change to a meaningful level for my special education students. I love the curriculum that has been developed, however adapting is very time consuming so in my classroom it is more of an activity rather than curriculum. However, today I was blown away by the idea of a Journal. To see Will Steger’s journal and also the Botany Journal was fabulous and gave me a great idea for my students who are mostly non-verbal, non-writing, etc. My idea is to have my students keep an explorer’s journal. I plan to have my students spend 10-15 minutes outside every day and “Look Up, Look Down, Look Around”. They will then keep a separate notebook for each day that could for example: the color of the sky, temperature (cold or hot), weather (sunny, cloudy, rainy, windy, or snowy), pick a flower or leaf and paste it in the book and identify (color, etc). (Joan Duncanson Teacher DCD Bridge View School)

Today I attended the Institute for Global Climate Change. The highlight was an impressive list of speakers that are at the forefront of the movement to bring about policy change in the U.S. Throughout the day it became clear that there is a consilience of evidence to show the impact of human emissions on global climate. Dr. Naomi Oreskes gave a surprising explanation of why the U.S. continues to delay taking a world lead on global warming. I will definitely go buy her book, Merchants of Doubt to learn more. The afternoon was spent looking at the resources available to teachers and how to get students involved. Abby Fenton used her amazing energy to show how she gets youth involved and what YEA MN is. The day was permeated by the passion of Will Steger himself, first of all talking about how he became an explorer and educator. He then continued to move about the group and quietly talked with participants and connected with as many as possible. I am so glad that I spent one of my summer days here, it was a great way to get motivated for the upcoming school year. (Lauren)IMG_3401

I was surprised to hear that every ice shelf Will traveled across on his first expedition is now gone. I was also surprised to hear that 3 free market fundamentalists began the campaign of doubt against global warming that pervades the media’s coverage of the issue today. Not to mention that these same people mounted the same campaign to discredit the science behind the effects of second-hand smoke, acid rain, and the severity of the ozone hole.  Mark Seeley’s voice has brought me joy on many Friday morning trips to school. I was so excited to hear from him in person today, and learned a lot about evidence of global warming in Minnesota and the consequences that we are facing or will face as the earth continues to warm. Especially notable was the impact of global warming on minimum temperatures, and frequency and duration of precipitation.  I plan on reading through the curriculum we have been given to help me plan my AP environmental science unit on climate change. I am excited to have these resources at my fingertips.  I am thinking of creating a weekly homework assignment of nature journaling with an emphasis on phenology. We could work in photographs as well, and it could lead in to a final project that the kids present to their classmates at the end of the year. I think it might be more powerful if they do this somewhere in their own community, then I don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on 30 kids each hour. I think it is important they have the freedom in these journals to draw, sketch, paste pictures, leaves or what ever else they can dream up to make it meaningful to them. (Jessica Ley)


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