From 6th Grade Science

Lesson Plan for Evaluating Climate Change and Using websites

The 6th grade science curriculum looks at the causes of climate change and addresses the question about whether or not humans impact the natural climatic changes that exist.  The 6th grade reading curriculum involves information literacy in the form of the BIG6 process, and students are asked to identify and evaluate sources for research in order to present one position surrounding the human impact on the environment.  There is a clear synthesis between the two curricula and the lessons to look at websites critically will fit well into these curricula as students will need to be able to determine the position of the website as well as its general credibility.


From 6th Grade Science

Goal:  Recognize and describe the various factors that affect climate.

  • Explain the effects of ocean temperatures on climate and the atmosphere.
  • Explain the effect of latitude on climate.
  • Recognize and explain how human activities can accelerate or magnify many naturally occurring changes in climates now and in the future.

Goal:  Recognize and describe that environmental changes can have local, regional, and global consequences.

  • Identify and describe local, regional, or global environmental issues.
  • Identify and describe that different individuals or groups are affected by an issue in different ways

Goal:  Recognize and explain how human activities can accelerate or magnify many naturally occurring changes.

  • Based on data from research identify and describe how natural processes change the environment (cyclic climate change).
  • Identify and describe how human activities produce changes in natural processes.

From 6th Grade Reading Curriculum

  • Determine and evaluate the most appropriate resources by comparing online databases in order to select appropriate articles for a specific guiding questions.
  • Locate and access information in resources when using various search engines. analyzing whether the text fulfills the reading purpose.
  • Use relevant information from appropriate sources by applying evaluation strategies when using electronic resources (such as publication/copyright date, fact vs. fiction, source, credibility, ease of use).

Goal :  The student will demonstrate the ability to compose oral, written, and visual presentations that present the position of an issue related to the impact of human activities on environmental changes.

Objectives–The student will be able to:

  • Synthesize main ideas and important concepts from multiple sources to express a position.
  • Recognize and identify different scientific positions surrounding the concepts.
  • Develop an applicable works cited list using various online tools to ensure
  • proper documentation format.

Introductory Lesson:  What is Climate Change?


The students will be able to define Climate Change and describe the various viewpoints of the “experts” in the field.


1.     Show the students various graphs of average temperatures on Earth for the past 100 years, 1000 years, 10000 years.  Ask students to describe the patterns they see in the graphs.
2. Define climate. Define change.
3. Discuss the graphs in relation to climate change. Then ask students for their ideas as to why climate changes.
4. Make the connections with the students; there are many theories as to what causes climate change and thus there are multiple sides to the Climate Change debate. Who is right? That is still unclear….
5. Play the NPR article
6. Discuss the “Domain of Knowledge.” Pinpoint where different ideas about climate change might fall. Create a diagram with the class using a tool such as Twiddla to display and add to the Domain as discussion continues.
7. Explain that students will be looking more in depth into the topic of Climate Change as get a clearer picture of the multiple stances on the issue.


BCR: What do you believe about climate change, given the information you have so far? What are the major sources of your information regarding climate change?

Website Evaluation Lesson


The student will be able to use criteria to evaluate the authority, accuracy, currency, purpose and reliability of a website using a variety of tools.


1. Begin with a discussion of the various types of websites that students might encounter: advertisement or sites that sell something, scientific information or data presentation, editorial/opinion n the form of blogs, or sites that collect a variety of information on one topic and store it together. Show some examples of each of these.
2. Have students watch at the video from Widener University, Wolfgram Memorial Library about evaluating websites. Discuss the review of the website in terms of depth of evaluation, not just a checklist, but questioning the websites/authors connections to the rest of the web, the reasons for the development of the site, the possible biases the author of the site might have, and using the web to find out more about how the website is connected to other sites. Also, discuss these two websites in terms of the “Domain of Knowledge.”
3. Connect the lesson to the Climate Change topic. Students will be reminded of the NPR article, and the various viewpoints that exist.
4. Show students the four different website evaluation tools. Discuss the similarities and the differences among them.
5. Break students in to pairs to look at four of the websites listed on the student website page. Each pair will have to examine 4 of the websites, 2 from the “Closer to the center of discussion” and 2 “Further from the center of discussion.” Students will use each of the four website evaluation tools, found on the “Documents for Students” page.
6. Once the students have looked at the four sites the pairs will present their findings about what combination of tools would provide them the best understanding of the website and whether or not it meets the purpose intended by the user.


The teacher will grade the four evaluation tools for completeness and accuracy. The students will answer the following BCR: “Which evaluation tool was most helpful for identifying a useful/appropriate site? Why?”

Choosing Your Info Lesson – The Debate


1. Divide students into 3 groups (or 6 and you’ll have 2 sets of 3 groups). One group will be the group that debates that climate change is solely a man-made phenomenon. One group will debate that climate change is completely natural and humans have no major influence. And, the third group will be the group to moderate the discussion.
2. Students will go the “The Debate” page of the website to find the format for collecting research. Students who are pro and con will be responsible for finding information from at least 4 different sites to support their side of the debate. The “moderators” will have to find at least 2 pieces of information “for” and 2 pieces of information “against” in order to have a sense of the validity of information shared by each group.
3. Allow at least 1 to 2 full class periods for research to occur.
4. On the day of the debate, the teacher should review the “Debate Do’s” and explain that students will be graded on these.
5. Allow the moderating group to begin the debate and time the opening and closing statements (2 minutes) as well as be sure the discussion is fair and time is equitable. Each member of the pro and con group will use the index card as described. The moderators will each have index cards and will identify the two strongest points made during the debate and indicate if these were pro or con.
6. At the end of the debate, allow all students to complete the follow-up activity and the moderators will present the “winner” based on the combined “highest” number of strong arguments as identified by the moderators.


See the debate page for evaluation rubric.