resources from the climate clinic for teachers

March – April 2019
4:30 pm – 6:30 pm on Tuesdays: 3/19, 3/26, 4/2
at Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Ave., Chicago

climate education and engagement resources

Check out these resources for climate education and engagement; you’ll find links to lesson plans, communication strategies, activities, research reports, free school supplies and more.

specific resources shared by presenters at the clinic:

Session 1: Climate Change Primer 3/19/19

Climate Change Science,
with Mark Potosnak, Chair & Assoc. Professor of Environmental Science & Studies at DePaul University

Resources and references:
Mark shared lots of data, including data from:
US Energy Information Administration
Scripps Institution
The National Climate Assessment
Illinois State Climatologist’s Office

Mark also shared information about TARP (for storing stormwater in the Chicago region) and a video on climate change

You can review Mark’s presentation, which is full of great graphs and resources:

Engaging People in Climate Change Solutions,
with Mario Longoni, Urban Anthropology Manager at the Field Museum

Resources and references:
Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit has dozens of tools for teaching and engagement. You can find the collages at the top of this page.

Mario mentioned color field guides from the Museum. He also talked about the importance of making commitments and the work of Doug McKenzie-Mohr, a behavior change specialist.


The first homework assignment is to find a locally relevant climate change report or article online and to evaluate it’s credibility. Here is a link to a tool to help assess references, the original CRAAP Test.

If you need a copy of the worksheet, here it is:

Session 2: Climate Change Mitigation 3/26/19

Climate Policy 101,
with Kenna Mulligan, Government Relations Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy

Resources and references:


Specific Policies:

Advocacy Resources

  • Illinois Environmental Council (There are two Springfield Lobby Days coming up on Clean Water and Climate & Energy. You do not need prior lobbying experience to attend.)
  • Other local conservation organizations like Chicago Wilderness, Openlands, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and others send out regular legislative action alerts if you sign up for their email list or are a member.

Kenna shared her slideshow, which has lots of useful data and graphics:

Chicago Community Climate Partnership,
with Gladiz Nava, Community Outreach Coordinator, Openlands

Resources and references:

Gladiz shared the webpage for the Chicago Community Climate Partnership and a video about the Chicago Agreement.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions,
with Susan Ask, Executive Director, animalia project

Resources and references:

Drawdown is a book and website that offers 100 climate solutions that have been evaluated and ranked by impact.

Find a place to start cutting emissions on your own by calculating your climate footprint. Identify priority themes– for yourself, your students or your community– by using collages, like these and these.

The Climate Action Tracker analyzes efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by countries around the world.

The National Climate Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are the authoritative sources for data about climate change. Find more reports and resources here.

Susan shared her presentation, which has useful images and references:

Here is the worksheet that we used for planning climate actions at different scales:


For next week, please read a chapter from the most recent National Climate Assessment. Choose any chapter that captures your interest! There are chapters on the Midwest, health, cities, ecosystems, mitigation — and much more.

We’ll begin week 3 with small group discussions, so please be prepared to give a short recap of what you read, in conversation at your table.

Session 3: Nature-based Solutions and Classroom Curricula 4/2/19

Pollinators lessons,
with Jim Doyiakos, Teacher, Amundsen High School

Jim showed a video of Greta Thunberg and a video about pollinators and food.

Nature-based Solutions,
with Ted Haffner, Climate Fellow and Landscape Architect, Openlands

Resources and references:

Ted discussed some of the Openlands programs that you can join:
Building School Gardens
Space to Grow
Birds in My Neighborhood

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions,
with John Cawood, Education Manager, Openlands, and Susan Ask, Executive Director, animalia project

Resources and references:

Lesson Plans and Curricula

NSTA:  What have you heard about climate change? 
grades:  7-12
subject:  multiple
comments:  This is brand new, so I haven’t used it.  It looks good!  It focuses on identifying common ideas about climate change. 

What Can Tree Rings Tell Us?
grades:  10-12
subject:  science, biology, math
comments:  This one is fun and popular!  Students count tree rings from photos of tree cores (though I use real tree core samples) and answer questions that involve math and analysis.

Climate Change: A Human Health Perspective
grades:  9-12
subject:  science, biology, health
comments:  I haven’t used this, but it looks good.  It’s a research/exploration project with lots of reading and writing.

Visualizing Changes in the Great Lakes
grades:  7-12, plus communities / adults
subject:  multiple
comments:  I’ve used this a lot and I really like it.  It is an interactive ‘game’ that lets people follow the cascading effects of climate change.  I liked it so much that I got permission from Ohio State to adapt it as part of the Connect! project. Here’s a version about rain gardens.

The Carbon Cycle
grades:  5-8
subject:  science, biology, earth sciences, chemistry
comments:  I’ve used versions of this and I like it a lot!  It’s very active and has kids acting like molecules to get a basic understanding of the chemical interactions in ecosystems.  There are follow-up activities here and here.

Faces of Climate Change
grades:  5-7 (there are versions for older students on the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website)
subject:  social studies
comments:  I’ve done this with groups and it is great at building knowledge and empathy.  It involves reading and discussion.

Migration Stories
grades:  7 and up, plus communities / adults
subjects:  social studies, literature, english, communications, history
comments:  This is fun, too!  People write about where they come from, to relate to migration and the stories of other people, plants, pollinators and others.

grades: 3-4 / elementary school
subjects: art, science
comments: Students learn about sunflowers through observation– by growing sunflowers, seeing the flowers in art– and by representation– by collecting data and making drawings. Extensions can include focusing on sunflowers as subjects for community/citizen science projects.

Nature’s Notebook Activities
grades: multiple, in a searchable database
subjects: multiple, in a searchable database
comments: This site provides a very helpful search tool for finding curricula and activities that get kids (and communities) involved in gathering and analyzing data.

Make Your Own Visual Collages
grades:  any, plus communities / adults
subjects:  multiple
comments:  I worked on this with the Connect! project.  Collages are my favorite!  People can use this to make their own collages, then use the collages to spark conversation.

field guides:

Bees, from beespotter
Butterflies, from the Field Museum