Integrating Climate Change Questions Into Lessons

Written By: Yen-Yen Chiu

Integrating Climate Change Questions Into Lessons

As a teacher tasked with having to cover a specific amount of standards and curriculum while managing pressures of state testing, I understand that sometimes it’s hard to break away from what I’m expected to get through in order to address important topics like climate change. Maybe I’m in the middle of a long unit or have already submitted my monthly lesson plans to administration. Maybe I co-teach or need to keep pace with other grade level teachers. To balance the demands of teaching with the desire to teach about climate change, having an established set of questions allows me to connect aspects of climate change to any lesson or skill.

While many of the diverse lessons on SubjectToClimate are designed to stand alone as one lesson, I find that having a go-to set of climate change-oriented questions is helpful. I can use these questions at natural points in instruction to connect any lesson to climate change. Regardless of what I am teaching, I can use these questions to keep the climate change conversation ongoing.

Here are five questions I keep in mind and use as an English, math, and music teacher:

• How can this skill help me better understand climate change?
• How can I use this skill to help me better understand climate change?
• How does this idea or concept relate to climate change?
• How is this approach to solving a problem similar to approaching a problem related to climate change?
• How are the steps of this process similar to the steps we can take to address climate change?

Depending on what my class is working on, I narrow down one question to connect to climate change. For example, how is the structure of an argumentative essay similar to persuading others to take climate action? Or, how does the process of solving a math problem relate to the process of addressing rising sea levels? Or, how does the dissonance in a music piece reflect the dissonance in weather patterns?

Alone, these questions may seem out of place, but if we introduce and use them in different lessons throughout the year, we and our students will keep climate change closer to the forefront of our minds.

Yen-Yen Chiu


Yen-Yen Chiu (she/her) has been in public education since 2001, teaching all levels of middle school and high school English and math in California and New Jersey. She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and loves creating interdisciplinary curricula with student choice that highlights different learning styles and knowledge applications. She enjoys being a mom to her college-aged daughters and exploring urban areas with her husband. Each day, her dog makes her chase rabbits and squirrels for miles and miles.

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