Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Are humans on the verge of collapse? (1 of 3) - Section 3: ENGAGE: Collapse!


The goal for this section is for students to be able to draw conclusions from the provided data visualizations.  This can be challenging process for a teacher to manage because the data challenges students.  Some students may have trouble with actual interpretation.  How do I read this?  What do the symbols mean?  Some students may have an emotional response. Am I destroying the world by living in the United States?  Does anybody in this class think I can't read because my family is from Yemen?  Equity is a serious issue in an activity like this.  Some students will need help with data literacy; some students will need help with managing emotions.  In my Brooklyn classroom, it is not just skills I need to watch.  It is also the feelings that arise from the data.  

For skills support, I usually take a teacher-centered approach.  I ask students to work on different graphs that match current abilities; I model for individual students and small groups; I might even find new data visualizations on the spot.  Students do not need to be able to interpret each example.  For the purposes of this lesson, I am satisfied if students are able to draw one valid conclusion from the data.

For emotional support, I have students work in supportive groups during this process.  These are groups that students work in everyday, so relational trust is high.  I also facilitate data debriefs for classes that become particularly unsettled.  Of particular importance, if I know that certain students may be the target of bullying because of the data, I will choose something different for class.

Overall, probably the most important thing to explain is that these are data trends that do not indicate anything about a particular individual.  This does not always solve interpersonal problems that might arise, but it provide a norm for data interpretation that students need to respect throughout this lesson sequence. 

  Supporting students' interpretation of data
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Supporting students' interpretation of data
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Are humans on the verge of collapse? (1 of 3)

Unit 4: Populations
Lesson 12 of 16

Objective: During this first of a three lesson sequence students will be able to: 1) identify factors that might contribute to the collapse of societies; 2) accurately interpret data visualizations of human population growth over time; and 3) explain how human populations impact the planet through in-depth case study

Big Idea: The growing human population threatens the stability of Earth. How might we understand how human population growth and consumption patterns influence the environment in order to design more sustainable human development?

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Science, human population
  55 minutes
carrying capacity of humans
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