Initial Publication Date: March 17, 2015

Climate Series Introduction

In the Classroom...

Teaching a new module, especially one as complex as climate, can feel overwhelming. In the segments below you will find helpful hints and tips from seasoned educators on to how to prepare to teach these modules allowing you the opportunity to maximize your experience with these modules.

Student Prerequisite Knowledge: The Earth System

Our climate system appears as an atmospheric process, but it is driven by solar energy and results from interactions among all components of the Earth system, including the oceans and land, the biosphere, the atmosphere, and Earth's frozen waters—the cryosphere.

Launching a Climate Module

Key practices advocated by A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards include students asking, refining, and answering their own questions, and developing their conceptual models of scientific phenomena. Launching a new module, includes engaging student curiosity, and creating interest in the subject at hand.

Crosscutting Themes

Each of the four Climate Literacy modules has a set of clearly defined objectives. You'll find them on the Educator web site as well as on the Student web site for each module. There are also four major themes that cut across all three modules, themes that appear in different contexts in each of the modules, and that are essential to the development of climate literacy.
  1. The Earth System
  2. Time Scales and Rates of Change
  3. Spatial Scales
  4. How do we know what we know?

Classroom Discussions

Discussions provide students with important opportunities for formulating, consolidating, and communicating their thoughts—processes that are key to the scientific enterprise. They also provide students with opportunities for critical thinking as they discuss and evaluate ideas they have read or heard, or as they analyze the results of a lab experience. Take full advantage of the opportunities for classroom discussions, both those that are highlighted in the curriculum as well as others that present themselves during the module. It is time well spent. Suggestions for focusing each classroom discussion are provided on the Educator's pages under Teaching Notes and Tips.

Climate-Related Misconceptions

Climate and climate change involve complex processes that are poorly understood by many. Yet these topics are being widely discussed, and understandably there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about them. While uncovering the specific misconceptions of your own students is a valuable thing to do, it is also helpful to understand what some of the more commonly held misconceptions are.

Classroom Materials, Equipment, and Computer Software

The Lab Overview page on the Educator web site includes a list of software, equipment, and materials that will be used in each lab of the module. Please check this carefully before you start teaching the module. Gather the necessary equipment and materials necessary for the hands-on labs, and make arrangements to install any required software on school computers. Doing this ahead of time will save you valuable class time (and potential headaches) later on.

Student Access to Computers

While the entire EarthLabs curriculum is computer-based, it is not necessary for students to have continuous access to a computer. The Lab Overview page on the Educator web site indicates those class periods when student access to a computer and the Internet is a high priority. Even if your students have unlimited access to computers, you should decide when it makes most sense to use a single classroom computer and projector (e.g., to show a video), when you'll want students working on their own computers, and when it's best to have no computers available (e.g., provide printed copies of lab procedures to your students vs. having them follow procedures from a computer screen).