Motivating Students About Climate Change

Written By: Yvette Tyler

Motivating Students About Climate Change

Buying into anything in today’s world can be a hard task. Considering the way technology has changed our relationship with information, students can have trouble deciphering the difference between what’s true and what isn’t.  This can be a challenge when it comes to getting students to understand and believe in the impacts of climate change. Students who have traveled the world on school or family trips may possess the ability to buy in much easier than a student who has not traveled. Therefore, I have found that it’s up to me to find engaging, creative, inquiry-based ways to create lessons that all students can connect with.

First, I open my lesson with a powerful introduction or hook. To reach all learning styles, it must be visually appealing and include sound.  Students must be able to feel it, and perhaps even taste it!  For example, if I am teaching about snow in an area that has never experienced snow, I would fill my classroom with thousands of cotton balls to make the classroom appear to be snowed in. This will set the tone and grab students’ attention immediately, allowing them to become a part of the snowstorm and hopefully buy into the lesson. To teach students about how snow melts I would give each student a cup of ice cubes and have them listen as the ice melts, then, let them drink the water. These sensory activities will stick with students and make them eager to discover what the lesson is about.

Next, I have my students conduct their own inquiry. This is a time in which they would have the autonomy to explore and research any region that has suffered climate change impacts related to snow. Giving students the opportunity to perform their own research allows students to find videos and articles that can give them a real-life connection. 

Lastly, I reach out to teachers in areas where snow has been impacted by rising global temperatures and create a pen pal system among our students. This encourages students to start a dialogue through letters and pictures giving both groups of students the ability to learn about the impacts of climate change in their respective regions. When my students are given the chance to write about the effects of climate change in their own region, they are more likely to notice the changes around them and make connections that they may not have made if they weren’t writing to students in another region!

I feel that the above strategies can help teachers get students to buy into climate change lessons even if their students have not experienced the specific climate impacts featured in the lesson firsthand. 

Yvette Brooks Tyler

Author

Yvette Brooks Tyler was born in Church Point, Louisiana. She earned a Masters of Art in Teaching from SUNY Potsdam and Bachelors Degree from University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She works as a middle school teacher, a freelance writer, director, and producer. She lives between Church Point and New Orleans , Louisiana.