Whew, this year has gotten away from me! I started teaching in a new district and surprise, surprise, I was starting from scratch with the curriculum! The district made the change from teaching solely physical science at 9th grade to a more integrated approach. While, I was super excited to be in on the ground floor and have control over the scope and sequence of the curriculum, it has been an overwhelming experience. I have been so mentally exhausted that I put writing about what I am doing on the back burner. But, I am slowly getting my sanity back and want to share a resource I just posted on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Many teachers shy away from teaching about climate change. I love teaching it. The students have so many preconceived notions about what climate change is and what drives our climate that it is fascinating to watch them work through the data. My students love when we do climate change our climate change unit because it focuses on the here and now and their immediate future, it also shows how interrelated all our learning as been.
I teach climate change after the Electromagnetic Spectrum. I use Earth's radiation budget as a mini unit that bridges the two. Students have learned all about how light waves behave and the importance of the atmosphere which increases their understanding of what drives our climate on Earth. I start talking about climate with the following two images as guiding phenomena.
The NGSS is all about anchoring learning to phenomena. The two images were taken by James Balog and his team as part of the Extreme Ice Survey. If you havent watched the Chasing Ice documentary, do it! So powerful. I show it to my students after we have analyzed our ice cores. After a class discussion and creating a driving question board on why the glacier has reduced in mass in 3 years time, we get into examining ice cores.
I make each lab group an ice core that comes from one of two arbitrary drill locations. These cores take 8 days to create, so prep in advance is key! Each layer needs to set for 24 hour before you make the next layer. I use instant coffee, cold water, carbonated water, ash, sand and gravel and plastic insects in creating the layers.
After analyzing the cores and creating models students begin
to construct a timeline of the Earth's climate during the time that each layer was deposited. We talk about what proxy data is and other things we can use as proxy data and how ice cores are a window into the past. We then move in analyzing actual CO2 concentration data over time from the Vostok Ice Core Location on Antarctica. I assign each student group a set of data to graph and annotate and then we put all the graphs together to create a larger timeline.
Students then perform three different labs to collect data. We investigate open and closed systems to look at the role of the atmosphere in temperature on Earth, the role of carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect and look at the role of melting glaciers and sea level rise. Students then take all that evidence and write a Claim Evidence Reasoning Report for their summative assessment. My class took about 3 weeks to get through this. Check out my full lesson plan here.