Clearly, English and Language Arts classes can benefit from a variety of subject matter. While serious matters should not be treated merely as exercises, we think the classroom teacher is key to preventing trivialization by framing the activities as being of serious concern and of importance in students’ lives.
The following are a few examples of prompts and activities that might help initiate or deepen student discussion and exploration –
- Have students read fiction and non-fiction works about a future under global warming and facilitate discussions about the facts and implications. (See possible readings below).
- Show short videos dealing with climate change, fossil fuels, renewable energy sources, and related matters. Have students facilitate discussions about the facts, controversies, and implications.
- Have students write about the impacts climate change may have on their own lives in different writing genres, such as essays, fiction, journalism, and poetry. Some possibilities for getting started:
- Results of the COP events, especially COP21 & COP22.
- Possible effects of the failure to reduce GHG emissions, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, or to transition more rapidly enough to renewable sources of energy.
- The ways in which students and communities are already acting to raise awareness, to mitigate climate change resulting from global warming, or to stop harmful practices and initiate sustainable ones
- Complex topics such as global warming and sustainability matters benefit from a strong focus on substance.
- Thoughts and feelings about global warming and its significance for their futures can help inspire deeper, more substantive expression in student writing, discussions, and oral presentations.
A variety of suggested readings are listed in the Teacher – Recommended Readings for Students section. In addition to selections that focus directly on global warming, some are intended to raise environmental and social awareness.
Additional Resources for English & Language Arts
- Climate Change and Your Community Two short video clips from PBS.
- Cross-Curricular Math, English, and Science Lesson Open Educational Resources website.
- Does Climate Change Have a Place in the English Classroom? [PDF] Article by Lorna Collier, includes useful references for reading & writing related to climate change.
- English Teachers Concerned about Climate Change website & blog.
- How to Teach High-School Students to Spot Fake News Slate.com, 2016. Political Stages Edited by Emily Mann & David Roessel. Applaude Theatre & Cinema Books, 2002. Short plays by 20th-century playwrights (with introductions).
- Teaching Climate Change in English Language Arts by Richard Beach. Literacy & NTCE website.
- What did you do once you knew? by Drew Dellinger.
- Why I must Speak Out About Climate Change by James Hansen, 2012.
TED talk, runtime: approx. 18 minutes
- Why Teach About Climate Change in English Language Arts in Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference by Beach, Share, and Webb. Routledge, 2017.
Also see Communication & Journalism, Drama & Theatre, Resources That Apply To Many Subject Areas, and Teacher-Recommended Readings for Students.