Students explore human nature by studying the climate crisis and its causes and impact, and the role of government, businesses, and individuals in finding solutions.
In this final 8th-grade unit, students will learn about one of the most urgent issues facing the planet today: climate change. While previous units have focused on historical events, this unit focuses students’ attention on a crisis unfolding all around them. While they will undoubtedly be familiar with the basic facts of climate change, this unit aims to provide students with some of the information and analytical tools needed to engage with this complex topic.
The core text of this unit is An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power by Al Gore. Gore’s 2006 film and book, An Inconvenient Truth, presented audiences with the current scientific research on climate change and sparked a worldwide conversation on the future of our planet. An Inconvenient Sequel is the 2017 follow-up, which includes the most up-to-date climate science with a significant focus on the way individuals can take action to combat the crisis. This text is supplemented with a number of nonfiction articles that provide students with even more information about the way climate change is currently impacting people around the world and what people are doing today to fight back against politicians and large corporations that are standing in the way of solving this crisis. Additionally, students will read several examples of cli-fi, an emerging genre of science fiction that imagines what our future might look like if we do not address climate change.
Students will have the opportunity to use what they have learned about the current and potential impacts of climate change—as well as the narrative writing skills they have developed throughout the year—to write their own cli-fi stories. They will conclude the unit by taking action and writing a persuasive letter to their elected officials, drawing on the texts they have studied throughout the unit.
Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.
Book: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power by Al Gore (Rodale Books, 2017)
Speech: “Greta Thunberg challenging The World Economic Forum in Davos - January 22 2019” (FridaysForFuture.org)
Speech: “Transcript: Greta Thunberg's Speech At The U.N. Climate Action Summit” by NPR Staff (NPR)
Article: “The Science of Climate Change Explained” by Julia Rosen (New York Times)
Article: “The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing” by Coral Davenport (New York Times)
Article: “Statement and Poem” by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
Article: “As Rising Heat Bakes US Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most” by Meg Anderson and Sean McMinn (NPR)
Article: “Notes from a Bottle” by James Stevenson (The New Yorker)
Article: “World After Water” by Abby Geni
Book: Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction by Manjana Milkoreit, Meredith Martinez, Joey Eschrich (Arizona State University, 2016)
Short Story: “Row” by Charmaine Wilkerson
Book: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition, 2014) (pp. 76–83, 90–95, 98–103)
Website: After Water Project (Tumblr)
Article: “Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago” by Shannon Hall (Scientific American)
Article: “What the new report on climate change expects from you” by Eliza Mackintosh (CNN)
Article: “Focusing on how individuals can stop climate change is very convenient for corporations” by Morten Fibieger Byskov (Fast Company)
Article: “The seven megatrends that could beat global warming: 'There is reason for hope'” by Damian Carrington (The Guardian)
Article: “Fishermen Sue Big Oil for Its Role in Climate Change” by Alastair Bland (NPR)
This assessment accompanies Unit 5 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
avert consensus dire imperative incontrovertible mitigate peril plausible unequivocal unprecedented
allusion author's purpose central idea connotation figurative language imagery metaphor mood relevant evidence sufficient evidence theme tone
To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 8th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
“Transcript: Greta Thunberg's Speech”
“Greta Thurnberg World Economic Forum”
Explain how specific words, phrases, and structural choices develop tone in Greta Thunberg’s speeches, and how tone impacts meaning.
An Inconvenient Sequel pp. 10 – 18 — (end after “the future of civilization itself is at dire risk”)
Identify the key ideas Gore uses to support his claims about climate change and assess whether the evidence he provides is relevant and sufficient.
“The Science of Climate Change Explained” — End after section “How do we know climate change is caused by humans?”
Identify a writer’s claims in a text and explain how they support those claims, as well as how they respond to conflicting viewpoints.
“The Marshall Islands”
Infer the meaning of unknown words using context clues, use reference materials to verify the meaning of words, and explain how word choice develops meaning in an informational article.
“Statement and Poem”
Explain how Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner specific words and phrases develop tone in a poem and how tone impacts meaning.
“As Rising Heat...”
Identify claims made in an informational article and assess the relevance and sufficiency of evidence provided to support those claims.
“Notes from a Bottle”
Determine a theme in the short story, "Notes from a Bottle" and explain how the author develops it over the course of the text; identify literary allusions and explain how they help to build meaning in a text.
“World After Water”
Explain how writer Abby Geni uses imagery and figurative language to establish mood and meaning in a short story.
Everything Change — Forward
“World After Water” — (Especially Roxane Gay’s essay)
Identify the primary features of the genre of cli-fi through careful study of mentor texts.
After Water Project — especially Roxane Gay’s essay
Create a vivid setting for a cli-fi story.
After Water Project — especially Roxane Gay’s essay
Add characters, dialogue, and a logical structure to a story.
Write objective summaries and determine central ideas in informational articles.
“What the new report...”
“Focusing on how individuals...”
Compare and contrast the central arguments of two articles about climate change, and explain how one author acknowledges and responds to viewpoints that differ from their own.
An Inconvenient Sequel — pp. 177-214, 276-293
Determine the central idea of sections of An Inconvenient Sequel and synthesize information in a short presentation that educates classmates.
An Inconvenient Sequel pp. 136 – 175 — (omitting “Profiles” and “Deep Dives”)
“The seven megatrends...” — Introduction, sections 1 and 7, conclusion
Delineate arguments made about climate change and assess whether the evidence provided is relevant and sufficient.
Engage in a Socratic Seminar with their classmates, summarizing the positions of others and posing questions that draw connections between their ideas and their classmates’.
Identify the features of a successful letter to Congress, collect information on their representatives’ voting record on climate change, and begin to craft a strong hook.
Construct a strong thesis statement and compose effective body paragraphs for their letter to Congress.
Revise letters for form and style, using strong clauses to create cohesion between ideas.