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May 31, 2016

Take a poll, debate the issue: Environmental policy

Where do students stand on environmental policy? In this lesson plan, have students take a poll before and after they debate the issue to see if their views change.


Subjects

Social studies, history, government, science

Estimated Time

One to two 50-minute classes

Grade Level

7-12

Activity

As a warm-up, use this interactive Kahoot survey to allow students to share their preliminary views on environmental policy. The teacher should go here on his or her computer and select the “Player vs. Player” mode. Each student will require a smartphone, laptop or computer and should go to the Kahoot website and enter the Game PIN that will appear on the teacher’s screen. It is the teacher’s responsibility to click to the next question once each student has answered.

[If you do not wish to have students play the game on their devices, then ask the following questions: Do you believe that climate change is caused by human activities? Do you believe that the U.S. government should invest in renewable energy sources? Should the government prioritize environmental protections or economic growth?]

Have students complete the following:

  1. Visit the PBS Election Central website’s interactive map and click on “Candidates & Issues” on the bottom right of the screen. Read the section entitled “Environmental/Climate” to become familiarized with both sides of the issue.
  2. View the three remaining candidates’ quotes on the environment by selecting their names in the “Environmental/Climate” section. Does the candidate you support share your views?
  3. Debate environmental policy with your classmates in a Socratic Seminar (group discussion focusing on thoughtful and respectful responses in which the teacher only interjects to facilitate the conversation) using the following questions:

Grades 7-9: Learn more about the challenges that surrounded the Paris talks using the PBS NewsHour video story: ‘How Paris is different from past climate change negotiations.’ What do the majority of scientists believe contributes to climate change? What are some solutions they propose? Summarize some opposing viewpoints on the sources of global warming and how society should address it.

Grades 10-12: Learn more about the challenges that surrounded the talks using the PBS NewsHour video story: ‘Can Paris produce a climate change deal that sticks?’ Read the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement found here. What parts of the agreement are most important? Are there any parts that are not important? What are some of the costs and benefits involved? Are there any aspects that you would change?

Cite specific points of the Paris Climate Agreement as evidence.

All age groups: Write down 3-5 bullet points defending your position after the debate once you know where you stand. Then, take the Kahoot survey above again. Did your views change? Did overall class opinion change? If so, why? Discuss as a class.

Extension Activities

Watch PBS NewsHour’s Extra’s Daily News Story: ‘Why does two degrees Celsius matter to climate change?’ Review key terms with students and see what they think about climate change using the critical thinking questions.

Read and discuss the PBS NewsHour article ‘Will climate change stop people from visiting America’s national parks?’

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  • Standards

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    Relevant National Standards:
      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

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