Monday, September 17, 2018

Climate Change and Impact on Teaching: Updating Environmental Education Efforts

Thanks to the forward thinking work of Massachusetts' Audubon's Drumlin Farm Sanctuary environmental educators, our grade-level team will spend a professional learning day Friday updating our standards-based environmental education efforts.

During the day, the environmental educators will share with us information about climate change and student advocacy. We'll work with them to design a year-long study that develops students' knowledge, stewardship, and impact on their local environment.

As I think ahead, I am thinking of the questions I am bringing to the professional learning event:
  • What is climate change? How can I relay that information effectively to young students?
  • What is student advocacy, and how is that advocacy inspired and supported in developmentally-appropriate, authentic ways?
  • How can we best embed the science/STEAM standards into this effort in inquiry/discovery-driven ways that inspire student conversation, collaboration, and mastery learning?
  • How can I integrate SEL teaching and goals into this study?
As I consider mastery and both the intent of the standards and specific standards, I hope that our year-long study will support the following:

Student Perspective
  • establish a systems lens that utilizes data about relationships and interactions among observable components of different systems including the cycling of water, human impact on the environment, interactions between plants and animals, and how energy cycles.
Student Actions:
  • develop skills necessary for a meaningful progression of development in order to engage in the scientific and technical reasoning so critical to success in civic life, post secondary education, and careers.
Learned Facts, Concept, and Skills:

Science Class

Life Science
  • use graphical representations to show differences in organisms' life cycles.
  • observe and describe animal adaptation and variation including internal and external structures and behavior that advantage survival.
  • understand the process by which plants use air, water, and energy from sunlight to produce sugars and plant materials needed for growth and reproduction.
  • develop a model to describe the movement of matter among producers, consumers, decomposers, and the air, water, and soil in the environment. 
  • emphasize the movement of matter throughout the ecosystem.
  • compare and create two designs for a composter.
  • Use a model to describe that the food animals digest contains energy that was once energy from the sun, and provides energy and nutrients for life processes including body repair, growth, motion, body warmth, and reproduction. (Where does your food come from, and what does it do for you and other animals?)

Earth Science
  • obtain and summarize information about the climate of different regions as well as renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. 
  • the sun's effect on Earth.
  • cycling of water through a watershed through evaporation, precipitation, absorption, surface runoff, and condensation.
  • support an argument with evidence that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed toward Earth's center. 
Physical Science
  • Define energy and energy cycles.
  • identify solid, liquids, and gasses in the environment.
  • describe the unique set of properties of substances/objects: color, hardness, reflectivity, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, response to magnetic forces, and solubility.
STEAM/Environmental Focus
  • define a simple design problem including criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, and other factors--water filters and other projects, create and test a simple system designed to filter water
  • obtain and combine information about ways communities reduce human impact on the Earth's resources and environment by changing an agricultural, industrial, or community practice or process such as treating sewage, reducing amounts of materials used, capturing polluting emissions from factories or power plants, and preventing runoff from agriculture activities and others.
  • learn about improvements to existing technologies and the development of new technologies--recognize that technology is any modification of the natural or designed world done to fulfill human needs or wants. 
  • Use sketches or drawings to show how each part of a product or device relates to other parts of the product or device.
Math Class
  • use graphs and tables of weather data to describe and predict typical weather during a season. 
  • understand the relative amounts of salt water in the ocean; fresh water in lakes, rivers, and groundwater; and fresh water frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps to provide evidence about the availability of fresh water in Earth's biosphere. Math Connection