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Authors

Project Look Sharp, Cindy Kramer & Sox Sperry

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom, 15-30 minutes
  • Lesson Plan
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Format

PDF

Teaching About Climate Change: Why Does the Source Matter?

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Synopsis
  • In this media literacy activity, students will analyze two letters, one from the National Science Teachers Association and one from the Heartland Institute, which offer conflicting perspectives on teaching climate change. 
  • Students will decode the messages from the two organizations and investigate the organizations' motivations. 
  • This resource includes a lesson plan and a student handout. 
Teaching Tips
Positives
  • The lesson plan includes discussion questions for several academic subjects.
  • This unique activity allows students to see how the education system can be vulnerable to propaganda and disinformation about climate change.
Additional Prerequisites
  • Teachers must create a free account to access the materials.
  • Teachers may want to go over this handout on analyzing media messages before students start this activity.
Differentiation
  • Students could respond to questions individually or in small groups before discussing their answers as a class.
  • English language arts classes could examine the tactics used in both letters to persuade the reader. Students could also identify the tone and the syntax in each letter.
  • Civics and government classes could use this activity in a lesson about propaganda.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on strategies to make people doubt the realities of climate change and this lesson on how to have productive conversations about climate change.
Scientist Notes

The resource highlights conflicting information about the reality of climate change, it is important to note that even with scientific evidence about global climate change, some top organizations, individuals, and governments are denying these realities. Students would be able to compare these letters and advocate for urgent climate actions. This resource is recommended for teaching.

Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 3: Gathering and Evaluating Sources
      • D3.2.6-8 Evaluate the credibility of a source by determining its relevance and intended use.
    • Dimension 4: Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
      • D4.2.6-8 Construct explanations using reasoning, correct sequence, examples, and details with relevant information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanations.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: History/Social Studies (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
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