Using Student Carbon Footprint Data to Connect to the Climate Change Debate (Day 2 of 2)

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to analyze their own carbon footprint, share their data on an international website, and engage in conversations with students across the globe concerning the human impact on climate change.

Big Idea

Use a carbon footprint calculator and an online discussion forum to get your kids talking about climate change and how they can help!

The Classroom Flow: Introduction

10 minutes

1. Students have already completed Day 1 of our two day carbon footprint challenge activity.

2. On Day 2 of this Carbon Footprint Challenge activity, start the class by asking students to reflect upon their data.  After giving them 2 minutes to do this with their lab groups and then ask each group to have a spokesperson share out major takeaways from the experience.  

  • Note: This brief check in helps to connect our work from one day to the next.  You will also find that students will want to share out their ideas and providing a brief opportunity to do that encourages student voice and opens up interesting avenues for extended conversations, deeper learning, and personal reflection.  


3.  Share with students students that today they will be interacting with other students across the world through a learning network platform found on the ISCFC website. 

The Classroom Flow: Setting Expectations

15 minutes

1.  Before reading and posting on the online discussion forum platform, discuss as a class the requirements for today's activity: for each student to create and post online one substantive post.  

  • Note:  You may choose to increase these requirements.  Last year I had a much larger set of criteria but this year I decided to limit that number to one substantive post.  What I found during my pilot last fall was that to my surprise, although every student is familiar with social media sites and Wikipedia, many of them have had very little experience working with online resources for academic purposes or learning activities.  My hope is that I can increase the quality of the posts students create and share on the site and decrease the anxiety level of students as they work with a new platform for learning and communicating.  

 2.  Choose 1-2 posts from the site to read out loud together.  Ask students to 'grade' them using prompts like:

what makes this post 'good?'

what is this post missing?

how could we improve this post?

 3.  Together, brainstorm and list out what a 'substantive' post looks like--and what it doesn't.  You can use this short list of do's and don'ts for substantive posts as your rubric for grading later on.

  • These are the main ideas students and I came up with last year in order to visualize substantive posts:  
    • A substantive post is of sufficient length (2-3 paragraphs) and adds to the conversation using information you learned using the resources provided or others you have found on your own.  Your substantive post should be part of a conversation with a student not from our school. 
    • A substantive post is NOT 1-2 sentences, does NOT simply say “yes, I agree” or some version of that sentiment.
    • Substantive posts are not made all on the same day within the same conversation.  Browse through the different forum topics and interact with kids from around the world!

The Classroom Flow: Connecting with Students Across the Globe

30 minutes

1.  Pull up the ISCFC website on the computer and show it on a projection screen to help students find the discussion forum link and log in on their computers.

2.  Students will spend the rest of the class period looking at the site forums, reading the posts of other students, and creating their own posts to contribute to the discussion forums.  Some students will want to work alone while others will prefer to work with a partner through this process.  Support whatever individual groupings work best for students, in particular your ELL students.  Remind students each individual is responsible for his or her own substantive post and that they can access and utilize this site on their own time outside of the class session today.

  • The reason why I prefer to create the posts together instead of assigning this portion of the activity for homework is so that I can use student conversations happening throughout the room as a way to assist students in crafting even better posts to share online.  If students complete this piece of the activity entirely on their own at home, the opportunity for students to work together collaboratively and for me to ask probing questions and answer clarifying questions is lost.  Overall, starting the activity together as a class
      • supports our ELL students, 
      • encourages collaborative discussions, 
      • allows me to check for understanding, and 
      • discourages plagiarism.  


See the website forum page for examples of student posts and responses.  You can also read on of my students' feelings about this activity.  Overall, they were positively impacted by the experience.  Here is more on this subject in a short video.