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Classroom Options

Classroom Options

This page will take you through several options for using the Global Climate Change modules with your students. There are options for using the entire suite of modules in one unit, implementing each module as an activity, and also ways to customize the modules for grade and ability levels.

Options for Implementation

  • You can set up a unit across all class periods in which you use all six modules, with each class taking on a different topic. You may want to arrange a presentation time so that all classes can present their findings at one time. This maximizes student understanding of the big picture of global climate change and allows for increased mastery of science content.
  • You may want to distribute a list of key questions for students to answer by listening to presentations of topics they did not research. This way, you keep them on task and they are more likely to learn the content if they are actively participating. (Make sure a question-answer session later corrects any misconceptions they may have developed during student presentations.)
  • You may opt to have the teams within each class present during the regularly scheduled science class for assessment. Unless you are comfortable with assessing large numbers of students and facilitating the presentations at the same time, it may be more difficult for you to assess the students in the larger forum.
  • You can assign different modules to different teams within one class. This is a particularly useful strategy if you have only one period of upper level ecology or environmental biology. Divide the class into student teams and assign each team a key indicator of global climate change. Students investigate the indicator using the resources in the module and resources they find on their own to analyze data and draw conclusions. True to problem-based learning, each team will produce different “products” and possibly slightly different conclusions and recommendations.
  • Another option is to allow students to choose the indicator in which they are most interested. They follow the situation and at the end of investigation, each team reports to the class “International Panel.” Students usually display more ownership of the work if they choose their topic, but you should encourage all topics to be represented within the class. If this does not happen, you may want to broaden the task for the module to include aspects of the indicator that were not chosen by any of the student teams.
  • Related links are listed for each indicator. Students should be required to use more resources than listed in the module. Part of their report to the classroom “International Panel on Global Climate Change” should include a question and answer session. Students could take the roles of reporters, or more true to the scenarios, fellow scientists asking questions about another global climate change indicator.
  • If your school encourages team teaching, consider partnering with the math or social studies teacher for module work. Students will see the interconnectedness of academic disciplines more easily when they see it in action. Math teachers can review the data that students use to draw their conclusions and suggest investigating different relationships among the datasets. They can discuss how relationships between datasets can be interpreted more fully to lead to increased understanding—or more questions! (What does this hyperbolic growth tell you? Confusing graph? Where is the line of best fit and what does it tell you?)
  • The social studies teacher can emphasize the human aspects of the potential impacts of global climate change. Each of the modules discusses potential human consequences. Human health, of course, has a more direct and obvious approach, but students should become aware of the impacts to life on Earth as they research the topics. While students are learning a great deal of science content, they can also see how important science is to informing other disciplines and will be more likely to see the usefulness of other disciplines if it can be applied to science.

Customization for Grade Levels and Ability Levels

  • For advanced classes use smaller teams so that each student must accept more responsibility and more ownership of the content of the module. Advanced students need more challenging opportunities and more opportunities to see connections among components of Earth as a system. Many advanced-ability students “see the veins on the leaves of the trees, but not the forest.” Having them work on more components of the indicator and having multiple module topics implemented in each class will allow them to step back and broaden their view of the global climate change issues.
  • For 9th or 10th grade integrated science classes use teams of 3-4 to lessen responsibilities. Encourage each student of the team to help other students if he or she sees there is a problem and encourage students to ask you for help or guidance. If problem-based learning is new to the students, they may require more guidance through the process, but don’t cross the line of too much guidance.
  • Modules can also be customized for grade levels and/or ability levels by adjusting presentation requirements, requiring lower (or higher) levels of understanding, increasing (or decreasing) required numbers of research resources or data sources, and by customizing the questions you ask them during their presentations to assess competencies.


  • Depending on your school population or educational practices in your district, you might want to consider making this activity part of a “peer teaching” activity. Students could visit a middle school or junior high and reenact the roles of scientists presenting to an International Panel on Climate Change. You would have to coordinate the activity so that your students had access to the technology they would need to present their graphs, charts, or images on PowerPoint slides or by using other technology-based presentation options in a different location. Students in the audience could be reporters and should be encouraged to ask questions.
  • Do you have a school environmental club? Use modules to guide some activities and a content portion of your club meetings. Challenge your students to be activists and proponents of good climate information. Prepare a debate for presentation to the school after your students decide a position on global climate change. You should stress presentation of the data as a means of drawing conclusions and defending their positions. Encourage the club to add their activities to the school website, if possible.
  • Encourage environmental and ecology research projects for your students and participation in regional science fairs. High school science competitions can lead to national and international competitions, and students can obtain monetary awards and scholarships as well as recognition for science achievements. The recognition is an important edge in applying to colleges and receiving collegiate scholarships.

    Student participation and even attendance at these competitions foster careers in science and your students will learn a lot of science content by finding out about other students’ research projects

    You can find information and requirements for different research competitions on the Internet.