Earth Day

For our most recent Earth Day-related lessons, see the section below.

Our older TeachableMoment lessons (before May 2015) are organized by category in the section that follows. Categories are:

Climate Change Garbage Nuclear Energy
Fossil Fuels Deforestation Earlier Climate Change Lessons
Food & Water Climate Disasters Earlier Fossil Fuel Lessons

 

 


Recent Energy & Climate Change Lessons

Earth Day Lesson: Plastics and You

Apr. 19, 2016, Middle School, High School

We use plastics all the time. So often, in fact, that they’re practically invisible to us. In this lesson, students keep a log of their plastic use, take action to decrease it, and explore systemic approaches (like bag bans and bag taxes) to minimize use of plastics.


Should "Fracking" Be Banned?

Apr. 3, 2016, High School

What is fracking and what is its impact? Students explore the issue and the political landscape around it, including efforts by activists to ban the practice.


Flint Water Crisis: Environmental Racism at Work?

Feb. 27, 2016, High School

What is environmental racism? And is the poisoning of people in Flint, Michigan, an example of it? Students explore these questions in two readings, with discussion questions and an extension activity.


SEL & Climate Change: Responding to a Flood

Jan. 9, 2016, High School, Middle School

In the closing days of 2015, some of the highest flood waters ever recorded hit the Mississippi River valley. This activity encourages students to empathize with flood victims, and to consider how we as individuals and as a community can best respond to floods and other climate change-related disasters.


Teachable Instant: Global Climate Accord

Dec. 13, 2015, High School

Students learn about the historic global climate agreement reached in Paris on December 12, 2015, and consider different reactions to it.


A circle on the Paris climate conference

Dec. 5, 2015, High School

Through readings, video and discussion, students learn about the Paris climate conference, underlying issues, and popular efforts to address climate change.


Paris Climate Summit & the Growing Climate Movement

Nov. 28, 2015, High School

Students learn about and discuss what is at stake at the Paris Climate Summit and consider the growing international movement for action on climate change.


Keystone XL Pipeline Defeated

Nov. 8, 2015, High School

This brief Teachable Instant activity explores the fight over the Keystone XL Pipeline - and how climate activists finally succeeded in defeating the project.


The growing fossil fuel divestment movement

Oct. 22, 2015, High School

Students learn about the growing movement by climate change activists to get universities and other institutions to divest from fossil fuels and explore the connection between this movement and the successful divestment campaign against apartheid South Africa.


Teachable Instant: Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

Sep. 7, 2015, High School

In this brief activity, students consider how the storm, and the rebuilding of New Orleans, affected people differently, depending on their income and race.


Climate Change

Teachable Instant: What Makes a Drought Controversial?

Apr. 16, 2015, High School

Quick quizzes and facts about water use, climate change, and controversy surrounding California's record drought.

 


EARTH DAY ACTIVITY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN PHOTOS

Apr. 10, 2015, High School

Students analyze and discuss photos to learn about the impact of climate change, resilience, and the climate justice movement.

 


Teachable Instant: Targeting Greenhouse Gases

Apr. 4, 2015, High School

Students consider three numbers: the Obama administration's newly announced target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions; the target scientists advise; and the zero target called for by many conservatives.


PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH

Sep. 13, 2014, High School

The People's Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014 was the largest climate march in history. In this lesson students learn about the march and the current scientific consensus on climate change, and consider what we and political leaders should do about it


CLIMATE CHANGE: A CALL TO ACTION

Apr. 21, 2014, High School

Scientists are getting more specific about the pace of climate change, warning that we have very little time left to stop it. Activists are pursuing divestment movements and boycotts. In this activity, students read about these efforts and plan their own climate-saving action.


GLOBAL DIVESTMENT DAY

Feb. 8, 2015, High School

A brief activity on the movement to get colleges, cities, churches and other entities to divest from fossil fuels, pegged to Global Divestment Day on Feb. 13-14, 2015.

 


CLIMATE CHANGE CONTROVERSY

March 24, 2010, High School

Students consider a controversy over leaked messages from climate scientists, which fueled arguments by climate change deniers. The lesson includes suggestions for supporting inquiry and investigation by students into this (and other) controversies.


COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CONFERENCE

Mar. 24, 2010, High School

This lesson, pegged to the 2009 Copenhagen conference, includes helpful readings and interactive activities on climate science, the scale of the climate challenge, and what the world’s leaders have (and have not) done about it.


ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT: WHAT CAN WE DO?

Sep. 12, 2007, Middle School, High School

The lesson includes basic facts on climate change and a process to help students consider actions they can take to address it.

 


JONATHAN SCHELL: A TANGLE OF CRISES

Feb 25, 2009, High School

A summary of Schell's essay describing the interconnected crises we face and their commonalities is followed by suggestions for discussion, inquiry, critical thinking and writing.


Fossil Fuels

CAN AMERICANS BREAK THEIR DEPENDENCY ON CARS?

April 20, 2015, High School

This lesson consists of two readings, each designed to help students think critically about the connection between transportation and environmental sustainability.

 


CLIMATE CHANGE SHOWDOWN: KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

May 16, 2013, High School

Environmentalists passionately opposed to a giant pipeline that would transport crude oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf coast are going head-to-head with proponents of the project. Students explore the controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline and the strategic questions it raises for environmentalists.


TEACHABLE INSTANT: PRESIDENT OBAMA VETOES THE XL PIPELINE

Feb. 28, 2015, High School, Middle School

This 10-15-minute activity touches on key arguments for and against the XL Pipeline proposal President Obama just vetoed.

 


EARTH DAY 2012: DEVELOPING OUR 'GREEN INTELLIGENCE' ON FOSSIL FUELS

Apr. 13, 2012, High School

Students consider American consumption of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas; learn about new methods of extracting these fuels; and discuss their pros & cons.


GULF OIL SPILL: WHAT HAPPENED, AND WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

Jun. 9, 2010, Elementary School, Middle School

Students discuss the massive BP oil spill and view two short videos as they consider what happened in the gulf, their own consumption of oil, and who should be held responsible for the spill.


THE GULF CATASTROPHE

May. 21, 2010, High School

An introduction and three student readings explore the vast BP spill, who is responsible, and problems with the Minerals Management Service.

 


Food & Water

THE CASE FOR LOCAL FOOD

Apr. 11, 2014, High School, Middle School

In two readings and discussion, students explore the benefits of eating in season and supporting local farmers and consider some of the criticisms of local food arguments, including the concept of "food miles."


DEBATING ORGANIC FOOD

Feb. 26, 2014, High School

Is organic food healthier than non-organic food? Who grows organic food - and how? Students explore these questions in two readings, with discussions questions and a research assignment.


EARTH DAY 2011: OUR WATER FOOTPRINT

Apr. 15, 2011, Elementary School

Elementary students consider how much water we consume and what impact it has by hearing some facts and discussing the story of one girl's water consumption.

 


HOW ORGANIC IS ORGANIC FOOD?

May 6, 2009, High School

What is organic food exactly? Student activities include two readings, a quiz, a writing assignment and suggestions for further inquiry.

 


Garbage

MESSAGE IN THE WAVES: TWO EARTH DAY LESSONS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS

Jul. 23, 2011, Middle School

After viewing a short video clip, students consider the effect all our waste has on the environment and develop a 'reduce, reuse, recycle' action plan.

 


Deforestation

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY: NOBEL LAUREATE WANGARI MAATHAI: SHAKING THE TREE

Mar. 5, 2011, Middle School

Students learn about Wangari Maathai, who started a powerful movement in her home country of Kenya to address deforestation and climate change by supporting poor rural women in planting millions of trees across Kenya.

 


Climate Disasters

TEACHABLE INSTANT: VANUATU CYCLONE & CLIMATE CHANGE

Mar. 22, 2015, High School

Students learn about the cyclone that devastated the Pacific nation of Vanuatu on March 14, 2015, and how it relates to climate change, then send a message to Vanuatu's UN representative.

 


NATURAL DISASTERS: WHAT CAUSES THEM? HOW DO WE RESPOND?

Dec. 13, 2013, High School

When disaster strikes, we want to help. But how? In this lesson, students learn about the factors that contribute to natural disasters, and consider what we might do about them.


LEARNING FROM HURRICANE SANDY: WHAT IS RESILIENCE?

Nov. 15, 2012, High School

Students create a web and define the word "resilience," read a blog about the resilience of one Brooklyn school community that was hit by Hurricane Sandy, and consider what being prepared and resilient might mean at their own school.

 


Nuclear Energy

JAPAN & THE NUCLEAR POWER DEBATE

Mar. 29, 2010, High School

Two student readings and discussion questions examine the safety of nuclear energy as well as the wider debate about the pros and cons of nuclear energy.

 


Earlier Climate Change Lessons

THE UNPLEASANT NEWS ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING

Jul. 23, 2011 High School

Includes a number of quotes from scientists about global warming, information on is being done about it and a suggested approach to launching a student project.


GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE: FITTING THE FACTS TOGETHER & ACTING ON THEM

Sep. 22, 2010, High School

Student readings explore the scientific evidence on global warming, the views of climate change deniers, and ideas for student action on climate change, including a day of action on October 10, 2010, sponsored by 350.org, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network.


GREEN INITIATIVES TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

Apr. 15, 2009, High School

Student readings describe the scientific controversy over "tipping points," the Obama-Biden energy program, and plans to green the Empire State Building. Following the readings are suggestions for student-led green initiatives for Earth Day - or any other day.


WHAT WILL PRESIDENT OBAMA DO ABOUT THE GLOBAL WARMING TIME BOMB?

Nov. 19, 2008, High School

Student readings examining this crisis and President-elect Obama's plans to combat it are followed by discussion questions, subjects for inquiry, citizenship activities, and ideas for student follow-up after Obama is inaugurated.


GORE & UN PANEL WIN NOBEL FOR WORK ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Oct. 16, 2007, High School

A student reading deals with the Nobel Prize award, including a few of the basic facts and a view of what can and should be done.


PAYING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Dec. 6, 2006, High School

Offers an overview of a British government study and an IPCC February 2007 report on climate change.


Earlier Fossil Fuel Lessons

ENERGY DEBATE: OIL, NUCLEAR & THE ALTERNATIVES

May. 3, 2006, High School

An overview of interlocking energy issues: The growing demand for oil and its effect on U.S. foreign policy; global warming and the need to reduce oil consumption; and the renewed push for nuclear energy and alternative energy sources.


OIL: SAUDI ARABIA, THE U.S. & OSAMA BIN LADEN. THREE LESSONS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Sep. 22, 2010, High School

Most Americans are "energy illiterate." These lessons for high school students promote energy literacy, especially about oil. We begin with a student energy quiz, followed by three readings and suggested classroom activities.


OIL & THE BELL-SHAPED CURVE

Jul. 23, 2011, High School

Most Americans are "energy illiterate." These lessons for high school students promote energy literacy, especially about oil. We begin with a student energy quiz, followed by three readings and suggested classroom activities.


PROBLEMS AT THE PUMP

Jul. 23, 2011, High School

Provides basic information about oil, gas and the U.S


THE PRICE AT THE PUMP: WHAT DOES OIL REALLY COST?

May. 5, 2011, High School

Two student readings focus on the reasons for rising gas prices as well as the true social and environmental costs of oil, with discussion questions and an internet inquiry.


THE CONTROVERSIAL BUSH ENERGY PROGRAM

Jul. 23, 2011, High School

An opening activity, four student readings, and a set of teaching strategies on the complex and interrelated energy and environmental problems facing the US

 

Home Page Slideshow

CONFLICT AND WIN-WIN SOLUTIONS: Two Lessons for Grades 3-6

Two lessons for grades 3-6

The first lesson introduces students to the concept of conflict, helps them consider that conflict is a normal part of life and does not have to lead to violence, and asks them to consider examples of conflict in their own lives. In the second lesson, students practice coming up with "win-win solutions" to conflict.


LESSON ONE:

CONFLICT

Learning Outcome
Students will be able to give an accurate definition of conflict.
Students will recall and describe conflicts they have experienced.

Film Review: To Be and To Have

By Maxine Phillips

Book Review: OVERTHROW

Teachers in search of enlightening summer reading might want to add this book to their list.

Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
By Stephen Kinzer
Henry Holt and Company
384 pages

Essay: HISTORY: THE DISENCHANTING INSTRUMENT OF RECALL

by Alan Shapiro

'THREE CUPS OF TEA' and a Man with a Mission

Just when I think the world is collapsing, daughter Ann places in my hands Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time. The book focuses on the people of Baltistan, a remote, spectacularly beautiful region of northeastern Pakistan, and Greg Mortenson, the man with a mission.

Affirmative Action and the Courts

by Alan Shapiro

To the Teacher:

Affirmative action programs at universities have a controversial history. The history must be viewed as part of the centuries-long struggle of African Americans and, more recently, other minority groups to gain the equal opportunity that is part of American law and the American dream. The controversy is whether universities should regard membership in such groups as a positive factor to be considered with other factors in the admissions process.

Analyzing the Enron Debacle: A Lesson for High School Students

by Alan Shapiro

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