Values and Viewpoints
Students practice taking different perspectives when debating environmental
issues. Then they take these into account when proposing solutions.
Environmental issues are typically viewed from a variety
of perspectives. Our views are often dependent on how things affect us
personally. For example, some people believe that cutting trees in the
rainforest is having a negative impact on the migration of songbirds and
that it should be stopped. Others believe that this is having minimal
negative impact and is necessary for the economic development of the country.
In order to come up with creative and practical solutions to our environmental
problems, students need to develop the tools to examine different perspectives.
Laying the Groundwork
students run across an issue in their Journey North studies on which there
seems to be opposing positions, engage students in pondering perspectives
on the problem. As a class, list at least five statements that someone
on each side of the issue might make.
students mark those statements that are factual with an F and those that
are opinions with an O. Ask, which types of statements are more likely
to be persuasive? Discuss that fact that opinions must be backed
up with evidence (facts).
- Have students
choose a particular position to represent on the issue you selected,
or write different positions on pieces of paper and have each student
pick one without looking. Before doing so, discuss which types of people
might have opinions on the issue. For instance, consider the issue of
trees in the monarch's Mexican winter sanctuary being cut for firewood.
Here are some roles students might play: a biologist, a logger, a father
who lives near the sanctuary, and a local student.
pairs or small groups of students taking the same role or position.
Give them time to research the history, opinions, and facts related
to the issue and to discuss how they will defend their position.
groups with opposing positions and give each group 10 minutes to present
its case. (If you have multiple roles/positions represented, you might
have a full-class debate.)
each group has presented, allow 5 to 10 minutes for other groups to
ask clarifying or challenging questions and for the groups in the "hot
seat" to respond.
- Once each
group has presented and defended its case, set up collaborative teams
and challenge each one to propose a viable solution to the conflict.
Each team should then present its unique solution to the rest of the
Connections — Discussion and Journaling Questions
- If you
defended a position that conflicted with your personal opinion, how
did that feel?
types of arguments were most persuasive? (Did you shift your own perspective?)
Were they more based more on facts or opinions?
- What were
the challenges of coming up with a solution that would satisfy people
with different perspectives? What insights did you have about how to
Have students find another Journey North Classroom with which to share
some of the environmental solutions they dreamed up. Try looking through
the listings in our Phenology Data Exchange.
that students understand that there are multiple (and often equally
valid) perspectives on environmental issues.
that they back up opinions and statements with factual evidence.
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