A lesson plan based on “It’s in our hands” from the September 2007 issue of L.A. Youth, in which Se Kim describes how he got interested in global warming.

By Amanda Riddle, Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language arts, life skills
Suggested time allowance: 45 min.-1 hr.

Overview: In this lesson plan each student will examine what role they play in helping the environment.

Students will:
1. Examine the effects of global warming.
2. Look at ways that individuals can help.
3. Examine what role each person has in making a difference.

Resources and material:
— pens, paper
— copies of L.A. Youth article “It’s in our hands” (one per student)
— white board or blackboard

1. On the board write: “Global warming,” and ask students to define the term. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, global warming refers to the warming of the Earth that can occur as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Those activities include driving, using electricity and emissions produced by factories. Ask your students to list the ways in which the Earth has already been affected by global warming. Answers might include melting polar ice caps, more polar bears dying, more extreme weather such as severe droughts and heavy rainfall. Scientists also say hurricanes may become stronger because of warming ocean temperatures. Some students may argue that global warming isn’t happening or say that they don’t know anything about it.

2. Discussion: Can individuals make a difference?
It seems that everywhere you turn, the media are reporting on the effects of global warming. But sometimes thinking about such severe changes to our climate can be overwhelming. It seems easier to not pay attention and do nothing, especially when the problem isn’t affecting teens directly, and they have busy schedules and other priorities. Teens can’t buy a hybrid or make companies reduce their carbon emissions, but they can make small changes to their daily habits. But do those changes really make a difference? Or can only governments and corporations take actions to stop global warming since they are the largest polluters.

3. Reading and discussion. Ask students to read Se Kim’s story “It’s in our hands” about how he got interested in global warming on pages 10-11 of the September 2007 issue of L.A. Youth, the sidebar on how teens can help and the interviews asking if teens can make a difference.

Discussion questions (possible answers are listed).

How interested was Se in global warming at first?
–He wasn’t interested until he watched An Inconvenient Truth for an extra-credit project.
–He didn’t think individuals could make a difference.
–He never recycled or conserved energy.

As he became more informed, how did Se’s attitude and behaviors change?
–He felt like he had to do something.
–He believes that what he does can turn into a habit that can influence others.
–He started taking the bus, turning off his computer and TV at night and turning off lights when he left the room.
–He got his parents to recycle at home and work.
–He lectured his friend about recycling his Coke bottle.
–He stops to talk to Greenpeace volunteers when he’s on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
–He believes our actions can influence the government to take action.

What attitude do Se’s friends have about global warming?
–His friend threw a Coke bottle into the trash instead of recycling it.
–His friend said there are more immediate issues to focus on like poverty.
–Another friend said global warming is a hoax and even if it were real, teens couldn’t do anything about it.
–His friends say it’s a waste of time to talk to Greenpeace volunteers.

4. Assignment: After reading “It’s in our hands,” have students write a persuasive essay explaining their views on whether they think individuals can help stop global warming. Students are also encouraged to read the articles “Traveling green” about three teens’ experiences with taking the bus to reduce pollution on pages 12-13, and “Keepin’ it clean” about a beach cleanup on pages 14-15.

Extension activity
Ask students to make a list of five things they can do to help the environment and challenge them to accomplish all the items on their list by the end of the semester. To find out ways to help, students can also do research online at www.epa.gov/climatechange. To learn more about global warming, students can check out www.nrdc.org/globalWarming, www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html and http://www.pewclimate.org/.