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Learning Experience/Unit

Global Health by NOW


English Language Arts (NYS P-12 Common Core)

Grade Levels

Commencement, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade


Is human activity bringing about alarming global warming scenarios and related catastrophes? Or is such thinking a myth brought about by flawed or incomplete science? Finding the answers to these questions has turned global warming into a highly politicized and contentious issue.
This lesson on global warming will help students research and form credible opinions about the topic.

Lisa Prososki for PBS


PBS Global Warming Lesson
PBS Global Warming Lesson Printer Friendly version

Content Provider

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)


By the end of this learning experience, students will:

  • Form definitions of the greenhouse effect based on prior knowledge, class discussion, and viewing diagrams.
  • Participate in group brainstorming sessions and class discussions related to the impact of the greenhouse effect and global warming.
  • Analyze global warming diagrams and resources to obtain a clear understanding of this scientific process.
  • Hypothesize about the effects of global warming on the climate and the world's populations.
  • Conduct research using a variety of primary sources to explore perspectives in the global warming debate.
  • Take a position on global warming and support this viewpoint with reasons, facts, and examples gathered during lesson activities.
  • Create a project that supports their point of view about global warming issues.



Part 1: Reviewing the Facts: What is The Greenhouse Effect? (30 minutes)

  1. Before class begins, post the term, "greenhouse effect" where students can see it.
  2. To begin the class, ask students to think without talking about a definition for the greenhouse effect. Give them a minute to formulate their ideas and then have them write down their definitions so they can share them.
  3. At the end of the allotted time, ask students to share their definitions with one or two other students sitting nearby and compare the similarities and differences in their definitions. Allow a few minutes for student pairs or groups to then combine their definitions into one that they believe is the most accurate.
  4. Begin a class discussion by asking several pairs/groups to share their definitions of the greenhouse effect.
  5. Next, show students a Flash animation (found at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Web site: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/index.html) that accurately describes the greenhouse effect and how it likely contributes to global warming. You might have students take turns reading the dialogue balloons for the characters shown on the site. Alternatively, the EPA Web site also provides a simple diagram with text explanation of the greenhouse effect. Ask students to make any corrections to their definitions based on what they have learned.

Part 2: Making Predictions about the Effects of Global Warming (20 minutes)

  1. Ask students to hypothesize about how the world's climate could change over the next 100 years if humans do nothing to limit the levels of their greenhouse gas emissions. Have them also make predictions about the effects such climate changes could have on humans.
  2. Working in pairs, small groups, or as a class, students should brainstorm a list of their ideas related to these questions. Each student should record a copy of the list in order to refer back to it later in the lesson.

Part 3: Comparing Points of View on Global Warming (90 minutes)

  1. Begin by discussing the fact that not everyone agrees about global warming and climate change. Use content from three NOW broadcasts to illustrate some of the controversy surrounding global warming. You may want to use one of the three broadcasts identified in the materials section above.
  2. Pose the following question: In your opinion, has human activity caused the world's climate to change over the past 100 years?
  3. Distribute copies of the Handout: Global Warming Venn Diagram (see Materials Needed) and review the directions for completing the diagram.
  4. Using the resources listed on the handout, have students work in pairs, small groups, or as a class to complete the graphic organizer. Encourage students to examine at least 4 of the programs listed sources. This information will be used in class discussion as well as in a later project. as a means of gathering information representative of a number of different sources and points of view. Students should use at least two programs from the “NOW Programs” list and at least 2 resources from the “Other Global Warming Resources” list. As students research, direct them to note specific facts and use the back of the sheet to note more in-depth details and cite their sources.

Part 4: Forming Opinions about Global Warming (30 minutes)

Now that students have explored a variety of perspectives on global climate change, they will take a position on the issue and support it with data from their previous research.

  1. Ask students to write 2-3 persuasive paragraphs to answer the following questions: In your opinion, is global warming an imminent world threat? Why or why not? Based on your opinion, what actions do you believe should be taken to address the global warming issue? Remind students to support their opinions with specific information from the brainstorming lists created in Part 2 and their completed Venn Diagrams from Part 3.
  2. Once students have organized their thinking on paper, give them the opportunity to share their opinions with at least one other student in class. Do not allow discussion or debate; rather, allow students to practice sharing what they have written so that others can hear the reasons behind their positions.


Part 5: Final Project (45 minutes, plus outside preparation time)

  1. Invite students to choose a project from the Handout: Global Warming Project List (see Materials Needed). Alternatively, students could design a project of their own with teacher approval. The goal of the project is for students to create something substantive that they can use to share their positions on global warming and to increase awareness about its related issues.
  2. Allow students one class period to begin work on their projects, then assign a completion date. When projects are completed, display student projects and/or have students present them to the class as a way of demonstrating their point of view on global warming issues.


Consider the following assessment ideas:

  • Give students completion grades for participating in class discussions and filling in the Venn Diagram worksheet.
  • Using a scoring guide or a peer-evaluation rubric, provide students with feedback about the effectiveness of their persuasive writing responses to the questions posed in Part 4 of the lesson.
  • Using a scoring guide and a self-evaluation rubric, have the teacher and the student evaluate his/her project using criteria established prior to completion of the assignment.
  • As students present their projects to one another, have their classmates complete a peer evaluation form that assesses the effectiveness of the project in terms of providing factual information to others.

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