Climate Action!

Authors: Mario De Mauro, Claudia Cantamessa

Prologue

Our journey started at the beginning of April 2021, we are two teachers from a high school in the centre of Marche region in Italy. – What do you think about a list of meaningful activity on sustainability that start from 22nd of April – Earth Day?  That should be a great occasion to kickstart something! – I have some terrific suggestions for you!

That was the beginning of a remarkably interesting collaboration. It was a very satisfying pathway: that led us and our students to share how our daily action could play a part in combating climate actions, to the whole school, by means of social media.

Introduction

We intend to foster our students’ beliefs in their ability to play an active role in combating environmental issues, that we are facing in this 21st century. To allow our students (in their teens) in this age group to better relate to these climate issues, we started off by introducing Greta Thunberg’s speech in TED Talks. It would be impossible for them to ignore the powerful message that Greta has delivered. This would be our picklock to unlock their creativity and to engage them.

Being a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) activity, it was also an opportunity to introduce a glossary with useful vocabularies and phrases, to describe facts on Environment and Sustainability.

From a scientific point of view, we would like to highlight the relevance of data to explain phenomena and to set subsequent decisions. For instance, it has been demonstrated that global warming, the gradual heating of Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere, is caused by human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity. Data collection and analysis are the first step in the design of reliable models predicting both the future scenarios and tailored effective policies, aimed to mitigate carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Learning Scenario Description

The way we delivered this idea is very simple but effective. “The Lazy person’s guide to saving the world” is one useful resource that is easily accessible online. It consists of different actions to diminish the exploitation of natural resources. We chose to explain it to our pupils, how simple it is to positively impact our environment by changing our daily routine. The second step was to ask them to select one action for each of the seven participating groups (3 pupils for each group). Each group was provided with three different actions from the guide. They were to select one of the three actions, according to its relevance to save the environment and its suitability, and how it could be applied in the daily routine of a teenager. At the end of the activity, a guide simpler than the original one was created with seven actions. The next step was the collection of data, based on each student’s one-week personal experience. To achieve this aim, the students had to complete a daily survey using a Google Form, that was used to collect data on the occurrence of the use of each action, for the whole period. The last step of our learning scenario was to ask the students to interpret simple charts showing the frequency of any action and determine whether to maintain their initial decision or to change it to a more “suitable one” better to replace with – practical action?.

As a final product, each group had to design one slide containing the action and one motto to deliver its message to the community, through the school’s social media.

Let’s see our planning in detail. Following are the activities with learning objectives. It is also made explicit, whether the task focuses on High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) or Low Order Thinking Skills (LOTS).

21st April – Introduction to Earth Day (Online)

According to Flipped Classroom principle we delivered an asynchronous activity (Homework).

It was a listening activity: The Greta Thunberg’s call for action during the TED Talk (Stockholm, 2018)

Learning objectives:

  • to foster beliefs towards the importance of being active in this relevant challenge; 
  • to engage students and develop their agency: they have the ability and the will to positively influence their lives and the environment.

Synchronous activity; Teamwork in Google Chat virtual rooms: 

It was a writing and speaking activity, “Key questions about GT’s talk & Hot Words” to introduce the environment related words 

introduce environment related words

Learning objectives:

  • to broaden the range of vocabulary
  • to experience new digital tools for online team work;
  • to collaborate with peers to successfully complete a wiki task.

22nd April – Earth Day Homework (Online)

According to Flipped Classroom principle we delivered an asynchronous activity (Homework).

The first part was a listening: teacher’s screencast explanation to The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. 

Learning objectives:

  • to learn the inspirational guide which would be the starting point of all the tasks;
  • to learn the exact pronunciation of the words and some translation;
  • to learn how effortless an individual can do to have a positive impact on the environment;

The second part was a writing: on Padlet: 1-1-1 exit slip strategy

Students had to answer questions about:

  • one thing they learned;
  • one thing they liked most.
  • one thing they had to query on..

Learning objectives:

  • to learn new digital tools for online team work;
  • to improve your ability to reflect on what you learned (HOTS);
  • to improve your ability to communicate using brief messages. 
Exit slip

23rd April – Think & Chose (Online)

This was a synchronous activity 

It is a speaking activity: Teamwork in Google Chat’s virtual rooms: “Think and Choose Activity

Sharing of the 7 freely chosen actions, which would be carried out in the next four days and recorded daily on Google Forms.

Guiding questions: 

  • Why is the action important to protect the environment?
  • How does this action positively impact on the environment? 
  • Is the action suitable for a positive change in my daily routine?

Learning objectives:

  • to develop your ability to express your opinions by explaining your points of view and to listen to the others’ opinions (HOTS)
  • to develop your critical thinking skills thanks to open-ended questions about the topic (HOTS)

24th April – 27th April – Testing the Classroom Guide To Saving…

Students experimented their chosen actions in their daily routines for four days. Data were then collected and students to decide whether to maintain or dismiss their initial decision.

26th April – Language implementation (Face to face)

Sharing comments on last Friday’s task

  • Matching words from the Glossary with their definitions

Learning objectives: 

  • language implementation and vocabulary enrichment;

28th April – 1st part of the lesson (Face to face)

According to Flipped Classroom principle we delivered an asynchronous activity (Homework).

The first part was a listening: “Causes and Effects of Climate Change”.

The second part was an online quiz created by the teacher.

Learning objectives:

Listening

  • To introduce the main aspects of the topic; causes of global warming, consequences on the environment, consequences on humans and, good news: It’s on us to change our routine and adapt to a “transformational step” in combating climate change.

Quiz

  • To test your reading skills & contents comprehension
  • To highlight some misconceptions

Classroom-taught lesson Climate Change Overview 

Learning objectives

  • to make main contents of the topic clear;
  • to correct misconceptions;
  • to answer your questions from the padlet;
  • to answer your curiosities about the topic.

28th April – 2nd part of the lesson (Face to face)

Live tutorial: Getting ready for the final product: 3 slides + a motto

  • One word from the Glossary & its English definition 
  • Explanation in Italian with more details
  • Comment on group Action after a 4-day diary:
  • Our Motto

Learning objectives:

  • to use new technological tools for making WIKI presentations – Google Presentation

Team group work: planning about the last task for the following Friday;

Discussion starts from the results of the survey. 

Guiding questions

  • Does the chosen action suit the student’s daily routine? Why?
  • Would they replace it with another action from the guide that may be more suitable for their family lifestyle?

Learning objectives:

  • to learn how to use data to make decisions (HOTS)
  • to develop your critical thinking 
  • To provide opportunity to express personal creativity
Results of the survey

30th April – Group presentation, sharing of the three slides (Face to face)

The seven groups of students gave their presentation and received feedback from teachers to improve their final products: Just one slide containing images and reference of the author, the group’s action and a motto for dissemination through social media.

Action & Motto Group 2
Action & motto Group 4
Action & Motto Group 7

Metacognitive activity:

At the end of the final works presentation the teachers carried out a debriefing activity to reflect on, and recognize the knowledge, skills and attitudes used in the whole experience.

Learning objectives:

  • to develop personal awareness and insight of the inner resources that they can access in future experiences . 

Conclusion

In the light of the results, this was a useful activity to engage students in learning. Our scenario is centred on an existing topic, Climate Change and other major environmental issues. Bearing in mind that learning engagement is a good predictor of success, we are convinced that a real-life topic can stimulate students’ commitment about school subjects. If pupils have interests about the topic, that is both tangible and related to their lives, school activities could also be more appealing for them to participate and gain new awareness and comprehension that go beyond notional knowledge. Teachers are called to design engaging, meaningful and feasible activities and tasks for the students, avoiding too challenging stimuli. In this way, pupils have the chance to develop competences enthusiastically, due to the engaging activities which are both rewarding and interactive. In addition, the opportunity to see their works published give students a further motivation to commit themselves: an acknowledgement from peers, parents and teachers that will strengthen their self-esteem and beliefs towards academic success.

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