Learning about Climate Change

Back in October, I gave a 1-hour workshop for the elementary teachers on how to use Quizlet.com. One question I received at the end of the workshop was whether there was a quick way to print the vocabulary sets so that they could be used in the classroom. I didn’t realize that there was an option to generate ready-made flash cards, so I helped the teacher cut and paste the images into a Word document.

Well, guess what! There is a way to make flash cards … I should have know and feel a bit silly only to realize this 5 months later. The instructions are on the Quizlet website.

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This afternoon, I ended up printing out a set of our Earth and Space climate change flashcards for each of my students. In the morning, we had discussed some major ideas – how greenhouse gases work, the difference between global warming and climate change – through a step-by-step lesson on Facile Learning. They seemed particularly intrigued, but I wanted to make sure they had some “sandbox” time to practice learning scientific terms that might not be familiar to them.

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We spent a  50-minute period cutting and reviewing the words. I asked them to shuffle all the cards and try to match them with the definition and the picture . What I thought were terms that most students would already be more familiar with were actually ones that I received the most questions on. They weren’t curious about chemicals like nitrous oxide or chlorofluorocarbons, but the shorter words that were easy for ELLs to pronounce and read aloud. Mostly commonly inquired were:

  • exhaust
  • smog
  • ozone
  • methane

They really, really wanted to know these definitions and make sure they understood them. It’s always interesting to me to see what topics they are fascinated with.

I realize now, in hindsight, how boring it is to teach the carbon cycle without an interesting context. But when the context is that your way of life may be affected – the that migration of geese might affect your spring hunt or that unstable temperatures mean that you can’t safely drive your Skidoo across the river to your hunter ground – then you cannot help but give your attention to climate change.

I suppose I have been teaching climate change in a very alarmist and upsetting way (is there any other?) which may have piqued their curiosity a bit more on these topics. Either way, this was great. It was really nice to see the entire class engaged.

I gave them the last period off tostudy on their own, making time to work with my one selective mute student. I drew pictures at random and then asked her to write the words on a whiteboard / VNPS. She did pretty well, once she was confident that the spelling was correct. I also wrote on a scrap piece of paper, “I need a hint”, and she would point at it if she felt stuck. We had a good time and it was a nice way to end the day.

Happy Thursday!