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27.11.2014
Kottie Christie-Blick is a teacher at Cottage Lane Elementary School in the South Orangetown Central School District, in Blauvelt, New York.
The musical alert jolts me awake before I ease back into a grateful calm reading the words on my phone.
Climate change – global warming – a curious topic to be thinking about on such a frigid morning? The reason we are having fiercer hurricanes in New York is because global warming is heating up our oceans. When talking with children about climate change, match the depth of conversation to the child's age. Complicated topics such as The Greenhouse Gas Effect, which describes why Earth is warming, can be explained at different levels, from basic understanding to complicated chemical equations.
Some people don't think it's true that people are the problem, but respected scientists from NOAA and NASA have told us global warming is real, and that the carbon dioxide people put into the air is the main cause.
Their evidence shows that most of the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere is caused by people, and as the carbon dioxide increases, the Earth's temperature increases. Once children understand the difference between weather and climate, and the cause and effect between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming, they'll want to know why it matters.
Our educational system is beginning to understand the responsibility and power we teachers have to move society forward. When our parents and grandparents were growing up here in New York, they didn't have such hurricanes.
The important part is that children understand that some gases, such as carbon dioxide, trap the sun's warmth near the earth.
They are also predicting more changes in the climate as people continue to pollute the air.
They also look at carbon dioxide bubbles that have been trapped in ice for thousands of years to understand what the climate was like a long time ago.
Look for displays showing scientific evidence of Earth's climate, thousands, or even millions, of years ago: pollen grains in sediment cores, fossils, signs of changing sea level, etc.
As with all of the other scary things in life we need to discuss with our children, such as stranger danger, they can handle it if they understand they have some control over the situation. One way we can help is to use less electricity, because power plants put a lot of carbon dioxide in the air when they burn coal, oil, or gas to make power.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) directs us to teach Earth's Systems, and ways in which people affect these systems.
As a Climate Stewards Educator, I receive free information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Christie-Blick's Class web site, see related videos and find out about other projects she is involved in.
Kottie has published articles in several educational journals, and has presented at educational conferences across the United States and in several other countries.


I now have extra time on this icy morning to correct that stack of essays on climate change before heading off to teach my 5th grade class. Our globe is warming because the carbon dioxide gas in the air is trapping the sun's heat near the Earth. We need some of this warmth to sustain life on this planet, so some carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a good thing.
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts that requires the reading and analysis of nonfictional texts, and the writing of expository essays, provides opportunities for students to use their emerging skills to understand a concept that's important to them. NOAA also provides opportunities to participate in webinars, field trips, and collaborative projects with other Climate Stewards.
No matter what local weather we're experiencing on a day-to-day basis, our planet is warming up, with far-reaching implications for us all.
Scientific studies from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) have shown that carbon dioxide and temperature go together. They want to understand this world they're living in without being overwhelmed by too much information.
Evidence from scientific studies shows us that factories, power plants, and cars put the most carbon dioxide in the air. When power companies burn coal, oil or gas to make electricity, they put carbon dioxide in the air. There are actions people are taking now to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the air. The Common Core State Standards for Math mandates that students spend class time analyzing data, and using graphs to recognize patterns in order to predict the future.
This year, my students participated in "live lessons" with a class of 5th graders in South Africa, discussing climate change. The important thing is to start talking about our changing climate, and to begin modeling ways we can help slow down climate change. The conversation in scientific circles now is how Earth will respond, how well the living things on Earth will be able to adapt, who will be the winners and the losers, and what we can do to slow down our warming climate.
When there is more carbon dioxide in the air, the average air temperature around the earth rises. Because the Earth is warming, glaciers on land are melting into the ocean, so high tide is now higher around the world. When we recycle, factories don't have to make so many new products, which means less burning of fossil fuels, so less carbon dioxide in the air.
When your students put the Common Core to good use to understand important concepts that affect their lives, you'll come to appreciate the accelerated academic rigor of these new standards, and your important role in influencing society's priorities.
The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program provides teachers the opportunity to work on significant academic issues, such as teaching climate change, in a foreign country.
The quality of our children's lives, and THEIR children's lives, depends on the actions we take today.


If we teachers, and their parents, don't tell them the truth, and don't point the way toward a positive future, who will? We don't want areas near the ocean to flood because we have friends and family living there.
Adding more carbon dioxide to the air threatens that, because the additional warmth it causes upsets the balance of natural systems. If we don't slow down the warming, we'll have more flooding in Manhattan, and in other areas, like Piermont, New York, where some of us live. During the 2011-12 academic year, I worked in South Africa researching environmental issues, consulting in the schools, and sharing the information with my school back in New York. Weird weather has been happening all over the world lately, and has been causing a lot of trouble for people. This may not happen again every year, but there's no denying the evidence that our weather is becoming more extreme in New York, and in other areas. Even very young children can begin learning that we need to take care of Planet Earth, even if they don't yet fully understand why. When our students understand that children and adults in other countries are also helping the environment, they understand that positive change is possible.
This is the kind of air that hurricanes need to start up, and they need a steady supply of it to keep them going. However, we've learned we can help slow down global warming, and the changes it's causing, by putting less carbon dioxide in the air.
In the short term (the past 200 years), it's clear to see that the increased carbon dioxide in the air from factories, power plants, and cars has caused our planet to warm. Our warmer ocean this year and last kept the hurricanes alive all the way up the coast to New York! For the older child, looking farther back in time (thousands, or even millions of years), it's interesting to look at the fossil evidence of climate shifts.
Note that the shifting takes place over thousands of years, not the short time scale we're seeing now since the Industrial Revolution. You may have to translate sophisticated language, but your students will benefit by seeing the graphics, and you'll be given accurate information.
In addition, older children will benefit by hearing such terms as mean, trend, and evidence, in real world contexts.



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