I start the lesson by building and activating prior knowledge, writing the word climate on the board and asking students to try to define it by sketching a picture. After giving them a few minutes to complete their sketch, I ask for volunteers to explain what they drew and why, writing/paraphrasing their ideas on the board. Next, I have the students work with their table group to synthesize their ideas into a working definition of climate. (For example, one definition might be: "Climate is how weather acts over an area or region.") We share out each table's idea and allow each group to revise their definition as they see fit. Once each group feels they have an overall understanding and comprehensive definition of the term, they write it in marker on a piece of construction paper and leave it in the center of their table, to refer to throughout the lesson.
Next, I ask students to think about the phrase global climate. I ask them how global climate might differ from regional or local climate. After allowing them a few minutes to discuss with a shoulder partner, I explain to the students that global climate describes Earth's overall climate variability — such as average temperature, average precipitation, average intensity of winds, etc.
I show the TedEd video, "Climate Change: Earth's Giant Game of Tetris".
After watching the video, I provide the students with about 10 minutes to complete the Reflection Form. Once each student has completed the form, we conduct 2-3 rounds of Mix, Pair, Share to allow them to share their work with each other. I roam the room, listening to student conversations and assessing for understanding.
Next, I divide the class into small groups to begin exploring the effects of greenhouse gases on our atmosphere. For this investigation, I prefer to I assign roles as follows:
I have found that these roles provide every student with the opportunity to be fully engaged and accountable for the learning task. In addition, they ensure that the lab runs smoothly and the area is left clean and ready for the next group. It also fosters a sense of responsibility for the classroom, the activity, and meeting the learning objectives.
I pass out the Greenhouse Lab and have students complete the first activity. While the students are waiting for their temperatures to regulate, they use a laptop or other device to watch the The Greenhouse Effect video.
After watching the video, they discuss the questions given in their lab. Then, they collaboratively craft a response to each question. Students take turns to write the responses on the paper. Evidence of cooperative learning is demonstrated by all students' handwriting showing on the paper, signifying they each scribed the answer to a question as their group discussed it. I remind them that I'll be looking for evidence of "their writing". The lab questions are as follows:
After recording temperatures for 10 cycles, students graph their data in their lab guide. We discuss as a class, identifying patterns or trends, pointing out outliers and discussing possible reasons to explain their appearance and their significance to the investigation.
After recording their temperature data, students complete the reflection questions in their lab guide. Students may discuss these with their lab partners in order to help make their claims and find evidence in their experiment to justify their reasoning.
However, each student should answer on their own paper. I allow students to share their thinking with a nose or shoulder partner and revise their responses as necessary.
Other questions that I might ask as I am circulating through the room include:
As one can see, I do not ask yes/no types of questions. I ask questions that make students stop to think and form responses, then answer using an explanation or description, rather than a simple yes/no or one word answer. By asking the questions above, I am also using a technique known as "stretching". Please see my reflection for more information!
As an assessment of students understanding of the Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change, or as a possible extension to the lab activity, students work in pairs or small groups to explore the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2: A Record of Climate Change Interactive to learn about the difficulties scientists face as they drill for ice cores in Greenland, and to find out what the scientists are learning about global climate change from the ice.
Students answer the following questions in their science notebooks:
*This activity is not easy, as it requires a pretty advanced reading level and a lot of critical thinking as students analyze the wealth of information that is present. If you feel this is too difficult for your students, you can have them work with partners or groups, or you can simply use the lab reflection questions as the final assessment of learning. However, this activity is great for students who need more of a challenge or who show a particular interest in the topic.