English 6780 Topics in English Education, Spring 2018
Teaching About Climate Change
Climate change is the most important problem facing life on earth, and yet many Americans -- the country with more responsibility for green houses gasses than any other -- are ill-informed about the topic and its urgency. This seminar will help graduate students in English, and other disciplines, develop teaching skills, ideas, and approaches to educate and address this crucial problem.
Seminar participants will learn about the climate change crisis. We will consider ways to bring together literature, film, and informational text to develop meaningful, thematic curriculum on the topic. We will study both the power and limitations of the literary imagination to address climate change. Seminar participants will examine ways to effectively integrate writing into learning, including for inquiry, persuasion, and personal and creative expression. We will examine interdisciplinary learning within and across content areas. We will consider using performance and drama activities to foster direct engagement. Throughout we will focus on ways our students can educate others and take action in a democracy already at risk.
Beyond the seminar, the skills, ideas, and approaches we examine can be brought to bear on teaching about other topics or issues.
The final project of the seminar will be to design an online syllabi for climate change courses that participants would like to teach. These courses will include relevant reading and writing, incorporate resources of the Internet, and use new and social media to inspire, educate, develop skills, and foster involvement, activism, social change, and making a difference.
The seminar welcomes and will be highly relevant to graduate students in English in literature, creative writing, writing studies, and English education. The seminar also welcomes and will be highly relevant to graduate students from any department on campus who are interested in teaching about climate change and will support teaching in ways relevant to their discipline and interests.
The syllabus is provisional, experimental, and open to change.
Teachers need to be informed what is happening in their local communities and around the world. Students in this class are expected to read from a variety of news sources and are invited to bring issues to our class for discussion. WMU provides a free NYT subscription.
Dr. Webb is the author, co-author, or editor of a dozen books including most recently Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference (2017, Routledge & National Council of Teachers of English). He has taught courses on climate change in English and in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and is a member of the WMU Climate Change Working Group. He has been teaching courses in the teaching of literature and composition at WMU since 1992, and began teaching high school full time in 1981.
The course will be taught in the WMU English Department English Education Labs fostering teacher designed instruction, critical thinking about technology and curriculum, teacher and student publication, free, open-source, or low cost resources, and strategies for bringing the resources and communicative possibilities of the Internet to all students.
Since the seminar is discussion-based, attendance and preparation are essential to your own learning and to the learning of your classmates. Missing more than two weeks of the seminar will lower your grade and missing 3 or more may lead to failing. Study my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning -- and consider your own philosophy!
Your final course grade will be an average of grades for the major assignments, listed and weighted below. At the hour scheduled for the final exam students will present their final project.
This course will follow WMU policies regarding academic honesty.
WMU has many resources to foster student health and well being. !
My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are after class and by appointment. You can always reach me via email.
Jan 9: Introductions
1. Read: Atcheson-"How Close to the Savage Soul" 2. View: Trees Are Dying, Dr. Octagon (lyrics)
Jan 15: MLK Day "Teach-In" Bernhard Center rm 210, 9am-3pm
Jan 16: Climate Future
Jan 23: Climate Change in a Global Perspective
Jan 30: Ethics, Politics, & Psychology of Climate Change
Feb 6: Climate Change in English, and other Disciplines
Feb 13: Developing Climate Change Curriculum
Feb 20: Thinking Climate Change
Feb 27: "Cli-Fi"
Mar 5-8 Spring Break
Mar 13: Climate Change and Literature
Mar 20: Exploring Climate Change Literature and Film
1. Read/view climate change literature/film of your choosing and bring materials to the seminar that we can examine and discuss - chapters or passages, clips, teaching ideas, etc. Partial list of possibilities.
Mar 27: Writing Climate Change
Apr 3: Media Analysis & Drama and Gaming
1. Read: Teaching Adolescents about Climate Change, Chapters 6 & 7
Apr 10: Taking Action
1. Read: Teaching Adolescents about Climate Change, Chapter 9
Apr 17: Reflecting on Teaching about Climate Change
1. Read: "How My Schooling Taught Me Contempt for the Earth" by Bill Bigelow from A People's Curriculum for the Earth (2014)
Apr 23-26 Final Exam Week
Apr 24 Tues 7:15-9:15: Final Exam: Presentation of Final Projects