Climate Change: Pedagogical & Process Research

"Learning about global problems is not only a cognitive endeavor but also an emotional experience" (Maria Ojala, 2012).  

When exploring topics related to Climate Change, it is important to keep the learner at the centre of this learning. The age and stage of the learner should inform the topics being presented, key concepts delivery and exploration, and the type of action opportunities available in response to the issues. PEEL lesson plans are provided to assist educators in presenting appropriate content to their students as well as providing opportunity for each educator to adapt the content to their specific classroom.

PEEL encourages educators to consider these ten points as a helpful guide in navigating your approach to climate change education. 

  1. Enter your student's shoes and consider their perspectives.
  2. Keep learning personal, close by, and at a level they can digest instead of imparting "adult information" onto them. Remember, environmental issues can be highly abstract.
  3. Make space for emotions in your classroom and identify various ways that your students can hold and deal with these emotions.
  4. Consider your own self-talk around climate change. Identify if it is the only way to think about these issues?
  5. Be a bridge for students by interpreting global issues into local, action focused learning.
  6. Provide opportunities for students to apply their learning to projects that are meaningful and influential.
  7. Avoid too much, too soon. Elementary students should stick within the sphere of their own experiences and cognitive abilities. Intermediate levels can begin exploring their wider world and its problems so long as they have meaningful opportunities to engage in projects that promote active citizenship.[1]
  8. Teach hope and be hopeful! Paint a green and healthy vision of the future. Don't approach climate change from a "fear" narrative.
  9. Teach balance of the triple bottom line: people, environment, economy, not just the environment.
  10. Take your students outside to natural spaces. "If we want children to flourish," David Sobel (1996) notes, "to become truly empowered, then let us allow them a chance to love the earth before we ask them to save it."[2]

[1] Blanchet – Cohen, 2008; Chawla & Flanders Cushing, 2007

[2] Sobel, David (1996). Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart of Nature Education. Great Barrington, MA. The Orion Society.


21 Century Learning Competencies

Leading up to 2011, the Alberta Government; in conjunction with several organizations and initiatives, connected with Albertans about the kind of education students will need for the 21st century. From these conversations arose the Framework for Student Learning, which "outlines the relationships among literacy, numeracy, competencies and subject/discipline areas essential for students to become engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit" (Alberta Education, September 21, 2016). 

Alberta Education states the Mission of this work is to: "Collaborate to inspire every student to engage in high quality, inclusive learning opportunities needed to develop competencies required to contribute to an enriched society and a sustainable economy... The vision is based on the values of opportunity, fairness, citizenship, choice, diversity and excellence."

Many school boards across Alberta hvae crafted their own version of the Alberta Education competencies, with a focus on engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of it. Please refer to your school board's website for their version of the 21 Century Competencies educators are expected to develop. The PEEL program builds on these values, visioin and 21 Century skills as a lens for learning, action and collaboration.