Teaching Climate Literacy [Web-Version]

Contributor
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) American Association for the Advancement of Science US Global Climate Research Program
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Instructor Guide/Manual , Informative Text
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

 

Teaching Climate Literacy Web resources is designed to help educators become prepared to teach climate science.  The resource addresses Earth’s climate system and the impact of human activities. The resource defines and provides background science about 8 essential principles of climate science.  Each principal addresses the content of one or more middle school and high school Earth and Space Science Disciplinary Core Ideas.  The resource also includes background, for the teacher, connecting climate science to nature of science (climate science literacy is an ongoing process), to social and economic topics (economic challenges and opportunities; informed citizenship), and to educational standards (Curriculum Maps for middle and high school).

The web resource is based on the content and outline of the 2009 paper/pdf publication Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science, A Guide for Individuals and Communities.  Much of the content is the same, rewritten and updated for use by educators with links to standards (including NGSS).

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • High School
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

Clarification Statement: Examples of Earth systems to be considered are the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, and/or biosphere. An example of the far-reaching impacts from a human activity is how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide results in an increase in photosynthetic biomass on land and an increase in ocean acidification, with resulting impacts on sea organism health and marine populations.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include running computational representations but is limited to using the published results of scientific computational models.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This document serves as a resource for educators to gain background information about climate. The website provides the ability to build an instructor’s content knowledge of specific Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts. The resource may also help educators build a deeper understanding of the progression of and relationships between the Weather and Climate and Human Impacts standards. The last two sections: Partnership with CLEAN collection and Climate Youth Engagement can provide links to materials directly for use in the classroom. The Essential Principles section of the website could be used directly with students as background/support for activities from other sources.

HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.

Clarification Statement: Examples of the causes of climate change differ by timescale, over 1-10 years: large volcanic eruption, ocean circulation; 10-100s of years: changes in human activity, ocean circulation, solar output; 10-100s of thousands of years: changes to Earth's orbit and the orientation of its axis; and 10-100s of millions of years: long-term changes in atmospheric composition.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of the results of changes in climate is limited to changes in surface temperatures, precipitation patterns, glacial ice volumes, sea levels, and biosphere distribution.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This document serves as a resource for educators to gain background information about climate. The website provides the ability to build an instructor’s content knowledge of specific Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts. The resource may also help educators build a deeper understanding of the progression of and relationships between the Weather and Climate and Human Impacts standards. The last two sections: Partnership with CLEAN collection and Climate Youth Engagement can provide links to materials directly for use in the classroom. The Essential Principles section of the website could be used directly with students as background/support for activities from other sources.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
While this resource is primarily for the teacher to increase their climate literacy knowledge, they are actively engaged in communicating that information to their students. Provided at the end of each of the seven Essential Principles, is a link called, “Learn About This Principle.” If teachers click on that link, they are sent to a secondary website with more information about how to teach that principle to their students using a variety of different methods and each level (middle school, high school, introductory undergraduate curriculum, and upper-level college students).

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Essential Principle #1 (The Sun is the Primary Source of Energy for Earth's Climate System) explains how sunlight is sometimes absorbed or reflected by different surfaces on Earth. It also goes on to explain the energy budget and how Earth’s tilt and gradual orbital changes affect seasonal temperatures. Finally, it explains that even taking these into consideration, that changes in the sun’s intensity of light does not account for all of the warming we are experiencing in the recent warming on Earth.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Essential Principle #2 (Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system) explains how interactions among the ocean, life, land, and atmosphere regulates the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Essential Principle #3 (Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate) explains how life influences climate and how climate influences life. The focus is on how life can drive the carbon cycle and modifies the chemical makeup of the atmosphere.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Essential Principle 5 (Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling) explains the processes used by scientists to create computer models that are used to predict future behavior of systems. It explains that these models can only be created because these systems behave in a way that is governed by physical laws observed on Earth and in the universe. Essential Principle 4 (Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes) explains the difference between weather and climate, outlines how observations lead to the discovery that the climate has and is changing and presents the evidence that natural climate drivers alone can not account for current climate observations.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This resource uses claims and evidence to establish the cause and effect relationship between human action and climate change. This is especially evident in section 4, Climate is Variable. The seven key concepts establish that: 1) climate changes over time, 2) natural climate drivers can not account for current rates of change, 3) The only explanation that is consistent with all available evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change. Provide students with opportunity to explore cause and effect relationships within the context of claims and evidence just as this resource provides the opportunity for educators. Use the links within the section "How can I use this principle in my teaching?" to implement in the classroom.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource is meant to provide a strong content background. As such, it supports the Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concept well. Examples of how scientists work are implicit connections to the practices.

  • Instructional Supports: The resource is designed for use by teachers to support their content knowledge and provides guidance for teaching climate content. Rated as N/A because the resource does not include specific classroom activities. This resource would assist a teacher in the successful implementation of any secondary level climate activities. Each of the Essential Principle sections within the resource contains information that address why the topics are important, what makes them challenging to teach, and how the principle can be used in the classroom (middle school - upper-level college). These provide guidance for the teachers in using scientifically accurate and grade-appropriate content. Many of the links to other websites are out of date as of January, 2016.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The resource is designed for use by teachers to support their content knowledge.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The resource is online and provides links to more information including other resources that could be used to teach the concepts discussed under each principle.