This unit should follow a lesson on human energy resources (renewable and non-renewable).
Use a KWL chart (what we Know, want we Want to know, what we Learned) to ascertain what students already know while also identifying misconceptions.
Engage students with an attention-grabbing phenomenon or mystery that encourages students to ask questions and use scientific reasoning to explain their ideas. These can be contained within one lesson or be used to guide an entire unit. A potential resource can be found at www.ngssphenomena.com or https://sites.google.com/site/sciencephenomena/. A well-chosen phenomenon to observe will be connected to the topic of study, as well as put students on a level playing field where all ideas and contributions are considered. Video clips and images (that just show, don’t explain) are popular resources, but many classroom science demos can be used as a phenomenon to inspire conversation as well.
Develop a strong and varied resource library, both in print and digital, to help guide students to legitimate resources. During the Covid pandemic, many teachers, myself included, developed bitmoji-themed classrooms that provided students with a hub to access digital materials. Adding NASA Climate Kids (www.climatekids.nasa.gov) is strongly recommended. It includes articles, videos, games, and activities that students can do online.
Watch a film with a climate change theme. A personal favorite is “Before the Flood,” followed by “An Inconvenient Truth.” Each of those exceeds 90 minutes, so it may make sense to use highlighted clips or to divide them into sections. For younger students, “Happy Feet,” “A Beautiful Planet,” or “Arctic Tale” are solid recommendations.
Read to your students. There are several recommended titles that are age-appropriate with a climate change theme. They are: “Winston of Churchill: One Bear’s Battle Against Global Warming,” “The Tantrum That Saved the World,” “The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge,” “What Is Climate Change?” and “Analyzing Climate Change: Asking Questions, Evaluating Evidence, and Designing Solutions.”
Use NASA’s Global Climate Change site (www.climate.nasa.gov), especially the Images of Climate Change, Interactives, and the Global Time Machine features.
Do citizen science. There are several organizations that rely in data collected from citizens. These include: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, Firefly Watch, Monarch Watch, Audubon Climate Bird Watch, NASA Globe Cloud Gaze to name a few. You can also go to www.scistarter.com to search for current citizen science projects.
Start or work on a school garden. Students who use a garden as their lab can learn a great deal about natural cycles as well as conservation. The site www.thepermaculturestudent.com contains useful information for starting and maintaining a school garden.