Saturday, November 12, 2011

Global Climate Change Article Analysis

Image credit: IAN Symbol Libraries
To finish our annual study of global climate change, I ask students to survey a variety of scientific literature outlining the impacts of climate change around the world and to interpret their findings. Students need the opportunity to engage with the scientific literature around global climate change in order to develop their own sense of climate science literacy. The US Global Change Research Program sums up the importance of climate literacy in the following guide, Climate Literacy—The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences:

"Climate Science Literacy is an understanding of your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and society. A climate-literate person:
  • understands the essential principles of Earth’s climate system,
  • knows how to assess scientifically credible information about climate,
  • communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way, and
  • is able to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to actions that may affect climate."
I provide students with a wide sampling of scientific articles that document climate change and climate change impacts from around the world. Each student selects, reads, and summarizes the main scientific ideas from several of these articles, then chooses one article to interpret in more detail. In the final analysis, students create a labeled diagram that illustrates the main scientific ideas from their chosen article and explains the connection between the science and the climate change impacts.

For most students, this is the first time they have engaged in a formal literature review of scientific material, thus time and support is provided to help students dissect these articles efficiently. At our school we use a Mark-It-Up reading strategy, which helps students break down complex texts into the comprehensible essentials. Students write their "mark-it-up" notes on stickies and place these stickies around the room next to their article's placard. All students visit and review the stickies created by other students before drafting their final analysis.

For the articles themselves, I keep my eyes open for timely and relevant stories from reputable and fairly unbiased science sources such as BBC Science, National Geographic, NPR, NOAA, NASA, etc. The articles are usually no more than two pages in length, span a range of teenage reading levels, are scientifically-based with data and evidence, and encompass a wide range of climate impacts around the planet. A few of these articles are provided in the links at the end of this post.

As mentioned in my previous post, my greatest hope is that my students develop an appreciation for science so that they can make logical and informed decisions based on data and evidence, not hype and hot air.

A Sampling of Climate Change Articles:

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