Initial Publication Date: May 8, 2012

Instructions for Group Writing Project: Building Blocks for Climate Literacy


As with all the CLEAN workshops, an essential part of the workshop process is a project that allows you to apply information and insights gathered at the workshop along with the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded colleagues. Ultimately you will end up with a product that you can use in your classroom and will serve as a helpful resource for other faculty via the CLEAN website.

We hope that everyone in the workshop will be able to join a working group. However, please do not join a group if you will not be able to participate throughout the writing and reviewing process. It is distressing to have co-authors drop out partway through the process.

The Assignment

During the break from May 13-15, workshop participants will form small working groups of 2-3 people. Each group will select one of the climate literacy concepts that apply to teaching about interactions between components of the climate system. Groups will work together to do one of the following:
  • Browse the CLEAN collection of educational materials and select a suite of materials that can be used to teach one of the climate literacy concepts. Create a web page that contains the steps needed to teach the principle, describes how each step links together, provides needed materials to segue between the various components, and describes an assessment method that can be used to determine if students have met the goals of the activity. See an example from the 2011 workshop.
  • OR, author an idea for how to teach this concept and create a web page containing a description of the idea. See examples from the 2011 workshop.
  • Groups will work on their projects during the break and will have a completed web page to show on Tuesday May 15.
  • During the afternoon of May 15, groups will review each others' web pages and provide suggestions to strengthen the work.

Getting Started

1. Create a SERC account, if you have not already done so. Use the email address you provided on the workshop application (the one you're receiving workshop emails through). Creating an account is quick, easy, and free, and you'll need it to access the workspace pages below.
2. Meet with your group on the phone and brainstorm for a general theme of your work.
a. Select one of the climate literacy principles for Principle 2, and note that Principle 2c. already has a suite of materials completed.
b. Go to your group's workspace page and begin filling in the template as you work. Note: you will need to be logged in to your SERC account to access these pages.
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7
Group 8

3. Start by defining goals with the stem "After completing this activity, students will be able to..."

a. You can start with the Principles themselves, which can sometimes be turned into goals fairly easily, however...
b. Sometimes the principles are not specific enough to provide clear guidance, so create goals in your own words with your own level of specificity.
c. When creating goals, keep in mind that the most useful goals are those that are assessable, i.e. you'll have some way to tell, beyond your instincts, whether or not the activity helped students reach the goal.
d. You can return to your goals and modify them, depending on the activities you find and end up including, or the activities you end up designing. It's an iterative process.

4. Second, take a first pass at assessment. What would a student do in order to demonstrate that he/she has achieved the goal?

5. By starting with goals and assessments, your search for, or creation of, activities will be much more focused.

a. You'll have good reasons to include particular activities in your suite. You won't get as distracted by all the wonderful options out there.
b. You might reject activities that you really like, but that just don't fit with the purpose of the particular grouping you are creating.
c. You can find some interesting new ideas for how to make your lessons interactive, or how to change existing activities for your purposes.
d. You will also be able to identify gaps in how you're getting students to meet the goals.

6. After taking an initial stab at goals and assessments, move on to selection/creation of activities. Search the CLEAN collection. Use the 'refine the results' boxes to look at activities, visualizations, videos and other types of materials.

7. Assemble a combination of activities, demos, visualizations that can be used to meet the goals of the activity. This will likely be a combination of materials from CLEAN (or elsewhere) and perhaps some components that you create yourselves.

8. Create a narrative or a sequence of steps that would be used to teach the suite of activities from start to finish. Think of this as an instructor's guide. What do other faculty need to know about how to use these materials? How does each element fit into the overall goals of the activity?

9. If you page is getting very long, consider trimming it down to the essential elements. Ultimately, you want your goals, assessments, and activities to align with one another. Iteration helps.

10. As you work, record your progress on your web page. You can add links, images, text boxes, and so on. Come to the web authoring tutorial on Thursday afternoon for a lesson on how to do this.

Reviewing and Revising

  1. On Tuesday morning, each group will present their page. Groups will have 10 minutes to show the elements of their activity and to ask for feedback.
  2. Then, smaller groups will be assigned to provide a more detailed review. Each participant will be reviewing another group's activity, and each group will recieve feedback too.
  3. Following Tuesday's reviewing, groups should make revisions on Wednesday with the goal of having pages complete by Wednesday afternoon.
  4. After the workshop concludes, Karin will work with each group to make the web pages live.
  5. Pages will be added to the CLEAN website, in the section about teaching with climate literacy.

Example from 2011 Workshop

Last year, our group (Steve, Dave, Eric, Sara), created a suite of materials for teaching climate literacy principle 2c. We...

1. started by articulating goals, then

2. acquired activities both by

a. drawing on activities we already used in our classrooms, and by

b. creating new activities. The new activities were not polished by the time the workshop finished, but were completed later and submitted to CLEAN.

3. compiled a file with assessment questions, along the way, and afterward

4. Continually updated our webpage.