What Impacts Global Climate Change?

I decided to explore the ‘What Impacts Global Climate Change” WISE project. The lesson is designed for grade 6-8 students and requires 4 – 5 hours. It explores how human actions affect global climate change. The lesson is carefully designed and constantly requires students to revisit and update their understanding. It provides continual descriptive feedback to learners and gives them multiple attempts to adapt their thinking. It was something that I thought I would be able to adapt for a slightly younger audience. It is also something that I know a lot of my students typically have some prior knowledge about but also a lot of misconceptions. Students “bring to science class multiple conflicting views of scientific phenomena, often tied to specific contexts, examples, experiences, or situations” (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). I began by trying to make the lesson more connected to the prior knowledge of my learners. A portion of the lesson was about how local changes can represent evidence of climate change. The project used information about Bengal Tigers. I chose to replace the topic of this portion of the lesson to the changes happening to the habitats of polar bears and northern communities. I thought that students in my setting would be able to connect with the issue in a deeper way with these topics, as they are familiar topics of study.  Designing “contexts for problems that connect to students’ personal concerns can motivate students to reconsider and revisit their ideas long after science class is over” (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). I added a link to a WWF Polar Bear tracker to see the movements of bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Students can choose animals to follow and see how scientists monitor bears and collect information about how changes are affecting their habitat and well being. I also added a video about local changes changing habitats and local communities.

I also noticed that many of the responses students were required to give throughout the lesson were done through writing. I wanted to make the project more accessible for a wider range of learners so added a draw step into the “How does the Sun warm Earth” section. This would allow students to represent their thinking through drawing instead of text. It allows them to create multiple frames and create a short movie clearly demonstrating steps in a process. I also embedded several flash games that connected to sections regarding how human actions affect climate change to create a more interdisciplinary investigation. I found a flash game that allows the player to offset emissions by making positive changes. I would connect this to the concept of a carbon tax which is a common current topic in the media. This could serve as an extension research activity that students can engage in with less support. It is “essential to assess the ongoing state of students’ knowledge in order to bridge their capacity to inquire and to fade support as students learn to accomplish their problem-solving goals without scaffolds” (Kim, & Hannafin, 2011).

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education56(2), 403-417.

Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086


  1. Hi Derek

    I like the fact that you brought up that students (and adults) have misconceptions on topics.

    I wonder if it is the teacher, content or the group discussions that alter the student’s misconceptions.

    A good next step might be to see if students with special learning needs would like these activities. I have found that some students do not like the ‘artsy’ projects — they just want to learn the science and get on with it.


  2. Hi,

    Thinking back to Heather, it seemed to be an interaction between many types of experiences that led to her forming new conceptions. Perhaps building in some choice regarding how students represent their thinking would be a good idea.

  3. Hi Derek,

    It seems we both chose the same project to edit! I really like the idea of using a flash game to help the students make their thinking visible to see how emissions cause a negative impact on the climate. I agree that having them work independently while continuously making connections can solidify the consistency of their understanding to an abstract concept.

    I, too, found this project to lack in collaboration aspects, so thanks for sharing your ideas of the short frame movie! I never considered taking drawings to that new level.

    Thanks for sharing!


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