InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Cli-Fi: Climate Science in Literary Texts > Instructor Stories > Jennifer Sliko - Planet Earth
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Jennifer Sliko: Using Cli-Fi in Planet Earth at Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg

About this course

An introductory level course for non-majors.
35
students
Two 120-minute lectures
per week
Small, public 4-year university
, that is one of the 24 campuses that create The Pennsylvania State University, a large research university.

Planet Earth course syllabus (Microsoft Word 75kB Sep8 15)

Planet Earth is an introductory course about Earth, with emphasis on the processes the affect the landscape of Earth. Students learn about fundamental geologic processes and how they impact humans and the environment on regional and global scales. Some of these processes are slow, such as the movements of continents, and change Earth over a period of millions of years. Others are rapid, such as earthquakes and floods. Students learn how these processes are related and interact with each other.

Course goals and content:

Planet Earth is a general education natural science elective. Topics covered in this class include: the scientific method, earthquakes and Earth's interior, Earth spheres, volcanism, rivers and floods, plate tectonics, groundwater, contour maps, climate change, geologic time, and shorelines.


A Success Story in Building Student Engagement

I used this module to teach a class of non-science majors about climate change. The students in this class are from all grade levels (freshmen to seniors). Most of the students are traditional students, but about 25% of the students would be considered "non-traditional" (i.e. returning students).
As this class was taught as a "flipped" class, this module integrated well with the rest of the class pedagogy.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials

I completed each unit as described in the module, but each activity took longer than anticipated. I used 10 hours of class time to complete the module, and I felt like I rushed the students through some of the material. The students really engaged with the short story and could see how it is used as a tool of climate communication.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

I taught this module about half-way through the semester. Before doing this module, the students had previously learned about hypothesis testing and the scientific method, groundwater, rivers, and plate tectonics. The students also wrote an opinion paper on hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania before we started this module. Before starting Unit 1, the students read the textbook chapter about climate change.

Unit 1

  • Before starting Unit 1, the students were instructed to read the textbook chapter about climate change. On Day 1, I worked through Unit 1, and some students had to finish the climate concept map for homework. On Day 2, the students worked in groups to review each concept map, and each group created a new concept map (based on each student's contribution) and drew the concept map on the board.

Unit 2

  • For the second part of Day 2, we worked on Unit 2. The groups reviewed each other's graphs (previously completed as homework) and made notes for the blogs. Blogs were then assigned for homework, in addition to reading the assigned readings for Unit 3.

Unit 3

  • On Day 3 (second week), we covered Unit 3 by reviewing literary terms and the students each worked on the different literary genres. This unit took 2 hours to complete.

Unit 4

  • On Day 4, we covered Unit 4 as the students discussed the short story (which they had previously read for homework). This unit also took 2 hours to complete.

Unit 5

  • We spent an entire 2-hour class period completing Unit 5 as a gallery walk.

Assessments

The students completed each of the assessments as they are described in each unit. However, while completing this module, the students completed more homework than I typically give in class (the students were not used to doing the extra work).

The summative assessment was given as a take-home assignment, and the students had one week to complete the assignment. While some students did well on the summative assessment, others had clearly put in minimal effort the night before the assignment was due.

Outcomes

I wanted to use this module to teach my students about climate change. While my students did learn about climate change (based on exam scores), they also learned about climate change communication. Based on their performance in Unit 5, I think they understood when it is appropriate to use the different forms of communication covered in different situations. Also, at the end of the module, my students understood the difference between pathos, logos, and ethos, which was an unexpected, but welcome, outcome.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »