September 20, 2019 marks a very important event. As you may know, the 2019 Global Student Climate Strike is this Friday. There is also a second general global strike the following Friday September 27. We have a responsibility to our students to prepare them for the future. That future is looking catastrophic at the rate humans are consuming and disposing of valuable resources. It is EVERYONE’s responsibility to take action and do what they can to help the climate crisis. As teachers we can do our part in the classroom to educate students on the importance of climate action. We have the scientific evidence of what’s to come if we don’t change. So let’s get to work. This is a call to action.
Teacher’s this post is for you.
Here are a few things you can do in the classroom to raise awareness:
- Talk About the Strikes
Most of your students (especially if they are younger) won’t know about the strikes on September 20 and 27. They may not even know what a strike is. Traditionally strikes are organized by employees as a way to gain something from their employer. And while many are walking out of their employment for the Climate Strikes, this is predominantly a youth led strike. Students are also walking out of school. Their main objective is to end the age of fossil fuels. Greta Thunberg, the movement’s 16 year old Sweedish leader, has been lobbying and campaigning for climate action over the past year. She started #Fridaysforfuture, protesting every Friday and has been joined by millions of youth around the world. She has told those questioning her decision to protest during school time ““Why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts when the most important facts clearly mean nothing to our society?”. She has also stated that ““Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future.” The strike on September 20 was intentionally set to take place days before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23, 2019. It is being organized by scientists, students and activists. The hope is that it will generate enough uproar to make large scale changes at the summit. According to UPI, “Climate researchers with the United Nations suggest fossil fuel emissions need to be reduced to zero by 2030 in order to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising more 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.
Read About it Together
Read to your students about what the climate change strikes are all about. Here is the link to their website: https://globalclimatestrike.net/. Explore the kinds of climate strikes that have happened in the past and what their outcome has been. NewsELA is a great FREE website for teachers (appropriate for 3-8th grade) that has current event articles with questions and the ability to change the reading level.
Talk About WHY People Strike
Explore motivations to WHY people strike. When in the past have people gone on strike and what has been the outcome. Why a strike? If your school, country does not allow strikes, discuss other option to join the movement (a few listed below).
Brainstorm Actions to Take in Classroom
There are many ways we can make our classrooms more earth friendly. Talk about different things you can do as a classroom community to help make more eco-friendly choices. Here is a list for teachers full of ideas for a more earth friendly classroom.
Assign Classroom Jobs
After you discuss ways in which you can help out around the classroom. Assign jobs to students right away. It will help them feel as though they are taking immediate action.
Brainstorm Actions to Take at Home
There are so many choices we make in our everyday lives that have a large impact on the earth. Children are not always in control of what their parents purchase but there are other ways they can make a difference. For example, they can make sure to unplug items when not in use, turn out the lights, take quick showers, etc. Check out more of our blog posts and our instagram for more every day tips.
Watch this Greta Video
Share the video of Greta speaking at the UN Climate Change COP24 Conference. It’s a powerful reminder of the influence and power children can have if they put their mind to it and are eloquent.
Read Climate Books
The Guardian has put together a fantastic list of books to read with your class to help understand the climate crisis and need for climate action. A Mighty Girl also has a long list of books addressing climate change.
What if They Ask About Joining?
If students ask you how they can join the movement, encourage them to talk with their parents. You could also suggest they wear green or bring a sign to school if they cannot attend a strike. The sign can read “ask me about climate change”. Students can wear them throughout the day and engage other students and teachers in a conversation about climate change and what they know.
Raise Your Voice
As a class, or individually, write to local representatives or companies asking for change. Companies are forced to listen to demand. If demand is asking for more eco friendly practices, then they will eventually have to comply. Politicians are also required to represent their populations, let them know what is important to you.
Hope for the Future
This is a more uplifting activity to generate hope for what the future could be like if we all take care of the planet. If you have a classroom website or social media platform you can share the responses with #climatestrike
Start today! Join the movement and together make a change. If you have any additional ideas, please let us know below!