Dancing Our Way through the Carbon Cycle: Climate Change, Carbon, and the Greenhouse Effect (Day 1 of 2)

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Students will be able to link the phenomena of the greenhouse effect to the processes of the carbon cycle and our current discussion on climate change.

Big Idea

Use movement to help students connect the carbon cycle and energy transformations to the our big picture conversation about climate change!

Notes for the Teacher

This year, I've started to focus in on kinesthetic learning strategies that get kids moving and expressing themselves in a way we don't typically employ in high school.  

Check out this great video for in depth information about the structure and benefits of tableau in the classroom.

 I also like this What is Tableau? document that you can use as background information for yourself as you prepare your lesson or you can use it or adapt it for use with your students if you would like.  I also find Tableau In The Classroom to be a helpful reference for teachers new to the process.  I prefer to keep the initial directions minimal rather than do an in-depth study of tableau; students can get mired down and that just keeps them from engaging with the learning process and experience.  If students ask me for additional support, I share documents or show them this example video below that I created that you can see below.  In the first section of the clip, there is music and voiceover of a poem being read that we created movement for while in the second section, there is no voiceover.

I can't wait to hear your experiences working with tableau and movement strategies!

The Classroom Flow: Introducing the Tableau Activity

15 minutes

1.  Tell students that today you will be working with tableau, a series of movements that tell a story.

2.  Describe their task:  to come up with a series of movements with our without props that embody their specific scenario (the carbon cycle or the greenhouse effect).

3.  Brainstorm with the students what their group will need to accomplish today.  By the end of your brief share out/discussion, the following components of the work of the day should be listed on the board:

  • How do we want to represent our topic? (brainstorm)
  • What is the best way to teach the audience? (strategize)
  • What roles do we need and which group member should be responsible for each of them?  (assign roles)

4.  Break the class up into four groups of 8 students and tell them that they will work together to create a short tableau series of movements to show the carbon cycle and/or the greenhouse effect. 

  • Note:  I typically group each lab group of four with a neighboring table in order to establish my larger groups.  You can choose to allow students to sign up for which topic they want to represent or you can assign them.  I am looking for two groups to represent each topic.

5.  Set up and indicate areas of the room or outside the classroom where student groups can each work on creating their tableau.  Tell them that they can create/use props and have materials available for them to experiment with this possible extension of their tableau.

  • Note:  I typically keep cardboard box lids, basic classroom supplies like markers and paper, as well as scraps of material or anything else I might have on hand for them to use for this activity.

The Classroom Flow: Time to Work in Groups

25 minutes

1.  Allow students time to work in their large group to brainstorm, strategize, and determine roles for each group member for their tableau.

2.  While student groups work, observe closely and engage groups when you feel they need your assistance with any one of these areas of the group assignment.

  • Note:  To help groups, you can refer students back to the class checklist of steps each group should be going through during the class period.  You can also refer them to any of the text and online resources you have used throughout the climate change lessons from this unit.  My students liked the graphic on this particular summary sheet and referred to it as they created their tableaux.

Wrapping Up the Day: Preparing to Perform!

10 minutes

1.  During the last ten minutes of class, announce that groups should be wrapping up for the day.  

2.  Tell student groups that they will be performing for the class tomorrow and ensure that each group has the materials they need in order to do that.  

3.  Leave time to take questions and to check in with each group so that they feel excited and prepared to share out their work tomorrow.

And now, on to Day 2!