Critical thinking and climate change at Sigsbee
At least one teacher at Sigsbee Charter School is very proud of her students’ critical thinking skills. “Climate change is introduced to students by presenting them with the facts and they use their critical thinking skills to make up their own minds on this issue,” said fourth grade science teacher Erica Baugh.
The students give the climate change issue mixed reviews and they are encouraged to talk to their parents about the facts of changing weather patterns and what they might mean. Students are not always in total agreement with their parents, but they are encouraged to decide the issue for themselves. Parents generally have been very supportive of the program.
Don Riggs, a member of the Monroe County Advisory Committee on Climate Change, along with some other members of the Sigsbee community, visited the school four years ago and suggested that climate change might be included in the school’s curriculum.
The topic is now introduced in grades K-1 and explored at appropriate levels in grades 2-8. The topic is integrated within the science program and supported by teachers in other areas of study. The school, which is involved in a greening project, has many students working in the school’s gardening program, raising their own vegetables, focusing on science and health.
Some students have been to the national weather station on White Street and many more field trips are planned for students in grades 6-8. The science program focuses on using weather instruments and spending lots of time outdoors studying the earth and sky and sea. Especially in science, hands on activities are mixed in with classroom learning. Teachers meet very frequently by grade level and academic area to support one another through cooperative lessons. STEM (science, technology, English, math) meetings are also used to support the various areas of study.
Baugh said she is thrilled that students are focusing their critical thinking skills on local issues. What she finds most challenging is locating appropriate resources for the various levels of student learning. The overall goal of the program is to have an extensive climate change curriculum in the upper grades and field trips to monitor carbon dioxide and water level on a long-term basis. Baugh, from Maryland and teaching for five years, four of those at Sigsbee, says, “Sigsbee is an amazing place, it has a great program and I’m very luck to be here.”
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