School Library Month, Part 3
As a global citizen who has deep concern about the health and future of the planet and the safety of her human, animal, and plant inhabitants, I have participated in Earth Day activities since they began in 1970. The official Earth Day website offers a history that may surprise today’s youth in terms of the origin of Earth DAy, how it led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and evolved from a national U.S. event to a global one in 1990.
Earth Day will be held this week on Thursday, April 22nd. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth™.”
This theme and a study of climate change go hand in hand. In this post I share how I suggest using resources from the School Library NJ resource portal and a tool and guide from the Washington Digital TeachKit to co-launch an elementary or a middle school Guided Inquiry Design® (GID) unit into a school-based celebration of Earth Day followed by a service project.
This GID would be co-designed, co-taught, and co-evaluated by a school librarian and one or more classroom teachers.
Open: I found Jeanette Winter’s picture book Our House Is On Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet (Beach Lane 2019) to be the ideal read-aloud to launch this inquiry for upper elementary and middle school students.
“You are never too small to make a difference.” Greta Thunberg
Many students will have heard of climate change, Greta Thunberg, and protests for environmental protections so they will be able to connect their background knowledge to the information in this book. With few words, Jeanette Winter’s text follows Greta Thunberg’s awakening to the climate crisis. The illustrations powerfully show Greta’s concern, courage, commitment, and success in building a global movement of young people. The final page of the book reads:
“What Will You Do?” Greta Thunberg
After a discussion, the educators would propose the purpose for this inquiry (connected to earth science and civics education curricula): Determine the “best” way for students at our school to celebrate Earth Day and use the celebration as a launch for a community service project.
Invite students to brainstorm some keywords and concepts.
We would share a video and lead students in a discussion to further increase their investment in the purpose for the inquiry.
For upper elementary students and 6th-graders: “Earth Day 2021 & Beyond | 8 Ways to Celebrate (I bet you don’t know the fact in #1)” by Kid Conservationist
For 7th and 8th graders: “Earth Day 2020” by Culture Collective
If the timing was right, I would also promote students tuning in with their families for this year’s National Geographic Earth Day Eve, a celebration with Dr. Jane Goodall and others and musical headliners Yo-Yo Ma, Ziggy Marley, and Willie Nelson (4/21/21 at 8:30 EST).
I used some of the elementary and middle school search tools and resources from the School Library NJ portal to identify the possibilities that follow.
I accessed Newslea from the News & Current Events page of the Middle School section to identify several articles about Greta Thunberg (grades 5-8).
I had not previously used Sweet Search (from the Elementary Search page) and wanted to test out the site before recommending it to students.
Using search terms “Earth Day” and “climate change,” my collaborator and I could identify sites similar to these four for elementary or middle school students to explore in small groups. (We would model these searches when students begin to gather their own resources.)
NASA Climate Kids: Definitions and connections to climate change
Earth Day: EPA Earth Day: The site includes projects and ideas for youth.
The Nature Conservancy: Earth Day 2021: #SpeakUpForNature 2021 Virtual Event will be held on 4/22 at noon EST.
United Nations: International Mother Earth Day: The strength of this site is its global perspective.
In this phase, students would begin to form their ideas for answering the overarching question: What is the best way for our school to celebrate Earth Day and launch a service project?
Using Flipgrid (as described by the WA Digital TeachKit) could allow individual and small groups of students to make PSA announcements to identify team members, seek feedback, and gather support for their idea. See Flipgrid in the Tools section and the Guides section under Student Interaction.
Using Resource Portals
The School Library NJ resource portal would be useful for this guided inquiry project. In terms of resources, I was able to find useful sites for the Explore phase, AND I still had to do my homework. When entering the Gather phase, student searchers would find a number of dead ends when sites they predicted would be useful turned out to be a bust, which was also true for me. (An alternative would be for the educators to use the portal to develop a pathfinder that included searching strategies as well as fruitful sites and databases. The Middle School section offers Crash Course Research Tips videos.)
The WA Digital TeachKit would help educators provide students with a menu of possible sharing tools to use to promote their “best” idea, present their new knowledge, and further their service learning project.
Let’s celebrate Earth Day 2021 and School Library Month in collaboration with our students and classroom teacher colleagues! Their future (and ours) depends on it.
Kuhlthau, Carol C., Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari. 2012. Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
School Library NJ. https://schoollibrarynj.libguides.com/home/
WA Digital TeachKit. https://sites.google.com/view/wa-digital-teachkit/home
Winter, Jeannette. 2019. Our House Is On Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet. New York: Beach Lane Books.
stokpic. “Hands World Map Globe Earth.” https://pixabay.com/photos/hands-world-map-global-earth-600497/