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January 8, 2020

Teachers and Climate Change Education

Ami Turner DelAguila contextualizes climate change education for subject-specific approaches. Explore ideas for your classroom with Share My Lesson.


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Putting Climate Change Education in Context for Students

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.

Climate Change Education 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.

Climate Change Education 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 New, 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.”

climate Change Education: Map of Countries and their performance in protecting the climate
The Climate Change Protection Index (CCPI) 2020 illustrates the main regional differences in climate protection and performance within the 57 evaluated countries and the EU. 

Climate Change Education 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 [email protected].

Ami Turner DelAguila earned her B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and received an M.A in the Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University. She spend several years teaching middle and high school English in New York City and Fairfax, Virginia, as well as pre-service teachers in an M.Ed. certification program at The George Washington University. Ms. Turner DelAguila now works for the American Federation of Teachers as the digital content lead for Share My Lesson and an instructional designer for the AFTs eLearning platform.

Explore more curated, free content in Share My Lesson's Climate Change Collection.

Ami Turner DelAguila

Ami Turner DelAguilaearned her B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and received an M.A in the Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University.

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