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Global Environmental Interdependence Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Many high school students are very interested in environmental issues. This lesson harnesses these interests by offering activities that will facilitate deep and critical thinking about global environmental interdependence.

Teaching About the Environment

Whether you are a high school social studies or science teacher, you understand the urgency and necessity of helping your students learn about the Earth and the environment. In fact, many youth today are already engaged in environmental issues, and working with these themes can be a good way to maintain their interest in science and social studies.

One aspect of learning about the environment is coming to a deep understanding of the global nature of environmental issues and the interdependence of people and other species around the world. To understand these complex ideas, it can help students if you incorporate some activities into your instruction. The activities in this lesson help make understanding global environmental interdependence more concrete and engaging for students.

Visual Activities

This section provides activities that appeal to students with visual learning styles and strengths.

Put Two Images Together

Have students work with partners for this activity. Give each student two different images that show the environment in two different regions of the world. Ask them to answer the following questions based on these images:

  • What do you see in these images? What do you think is happening in each of them?
  • How are the images similar to and different from each other?
  • What are some of the ways that the environmental scene or issue in one image might be related to the scene or issue portrayed in the other image?
  • What questions are you left with after analyzing these images?

Bring students back together and ask them to share what they discussed and what they think as a result.

Labeling Maps

This is a good activity for students to work on in small groups.

Give each group a copy of a world map or the map of a specific region of the world. Ask them to draw color coded arrows on the map to show ways that environmental issues or situations in at least three different parts of the world or region impact issues in another part of the world.

Make sure students label each of their arrows so that someone unfamiliar with these issues could understand what the map is showing. Display the maps for others to view and analyze.

Tactile Activities

Here, you will find activities that let students use their hands and bodies to deepen their understanding.

Act a Protest

Have students work in small groups for this activity.

Each group should research one environmental issue that is being protested somewhere in the world. They should create a skit portraying the issue and the nature of the protests, but they should focus their skits on the global repercussions of the environmental issue and what is at stake. Be sure to leave time for students to perform their skits for classmates.

Model the Interdependence

This activity can be done in small groups or partnerships.

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