The Land is Changing: Stories from Across the North
Students interview elders, older relatives and/or parents about the issues, impacts and potential ways of adapting to climate change in the north. Interview questions are designed to shed light on the issues of climate change.
Time Required: 1-2 hours in-class 1-2 hours out of class
To increase student awareness of climate change and their changing environment by recording the knowledge and experience of elders and the community.
1. Introduce the concept of climate change and its essential aspects by having students read a “basics” backgrounder or by doing one of the lesson plans categorized as a “Basics” lesson. Students can be introduced to the impacts of climate change by reviewing the concepts in the “Impacts” backgrounders.
2. Introduce the activity by explaining what the students will do in this lesson. That is:
o Each student will interview a member of his or her community
o Each student will write up the interview in a format that engages a reader
o Each student will post the finished product on a climate change website along with the work of other students from across the north.
3. Ask students to select an elder or older person in their lives who would be interesting to interview on the topic of climate change. Ask students to share the name of this person and describe their relationship to him or her. Some students may need guidance; it is crucial that they select someone who is much older and who has life experience that is relevant to the project.
4. Before students do the interview, review the following interview strategies with students:
a. Arranging the interview: Discuss with students suitable strategies for arranging an interview, such as:
Students need to contact the person they wish to interview and arrange an appropriate time and place. At this time they need to inform the person being interviewed of the following:
i. purpose and topic of the interview
ii. equipment that will be used during the interview, e.g. tape recorder, camera
iii. duration of the interview
iv. what will happen to the information, (e.g. a report will be posted on the web). At this point, the student needs to request permission to publish the results of the interview. Until there is mutual agreement, students cannot proceed with the interview.
b. Interviewing pairs: Discuss with the students whether it is more effective to interview two hunting partners, or a husband and wife. People who are shy or modest will often be more forthcoming in a small group. It has also been well documented that people being interviewed in this way trigger each others memories.
c. Types of interview questions: Students may select questions from the Student Handout – Interview Questions for The Land is Changing: Stories from Across the North. The list of interview questions is separated into sets developed for high school, intermediate and primary grades. It is linked to the Handouts section of this lesson.
However, students may want to create their own questions or to be spontaneous during the interview. In that case you may want to discuss “leading” “open” and “closed” questions and which types of questions are appropriate for what sections of the interview.
Closed and Open Questions – A closed question may help to focus the answer, or limit the length of the answer. An open question may elicit unexpected and very interesting information.
An example of a closed question is: “Research shows there are more marten in this area than there were 25 years ago. Do you agree?”
An example of an open question is: “How many more marten do you think there are in this area than there were 25 years ago?”
An even more open question might be: “What has happened to marten numbers over the last 25 years?”
Another example of a closed question is: “Is the weather warmer now than when you were a child?”
Another example of an open question is: “How has the weather changed since you were a child?”
Restating Questions – During the interview, students may have to restate questions, or provide examples. You may want to illustrate this point to your students with examples:
Initial question: “Are animals behaving differently due to climate change?”
Restated question: “How are they behaving now? What is different?”
Providing examples may generate a further response: “Are they eating different foods?” “Do they migrate earlier?”
d. What to take to the interview:
Students need to take necessary materials to the interview, including:
o pens (bring an extra one) and paper
o tape recorder (optional), cassettes and extra batteries
o camera (optional), film or disc, extra batteries
o clip board or hard book to write on since they may not be sitting at a table for the interview (optional).
o map on which the interviewee can mark locations (optional) - While some interviewees (or students) may not be familiar or comfortable with maps, for others a map may be a helpful focus point and a very effective tool for eliciting information. It may also help the student understand what the person is referring to. A 1:50 000 topographic map is preferable. Have blank paper on hand as well, and encourage interviewees to draw maps, or sketch animals, tracks, trails, trap sets, etc.
e. What to do at the interview:
Discuss interview strategies with the students:
o Establish a friendly environment, but do not be patronizing
o Listen carefully
o Give the speaker plenty of time to answer—avoid answering for the speaker
o If the interviewee seems to be veering off topic for more than a few moments, respectfully try to steer it back on topic. Be aware, however, that the point the person is making may not be immediately obvious. Also be aware that your questions might trigger memories that the person needs to talk about for a few minutes. It is important to note that listening well is form of respect in Indigenous cultures. Interrupting could be understood as being rude or disrespectful.
o At the end, ask the interviewee if there is anything that they would like to add.
o Be respectful and polite - don’t argue with the person you are interviewing.
o If you have a camera, don’t forget to take pictures – of the person interviewed, of the student interviewing or of other things that may illustrate what was learned during the interview
5. Once their interviews are complete, have students write a 200–600 story, essay or report that provides a summary of the interview. Ask students to be creative and engaging, yet factual with their stories – since they will be posted to the net and people around the world will be able to read them. They should be interesting to others and written well. The “student exchange” portion of this website is designed to accept approximately 400–600 words from each student - between a half and whole page of printed text. Longer texts are too much to post.
6. Do an art class that illustrates and reinforces what the students learned in their report. Students can depict what they have learned from their interviews – the effects of climate change on animals or the environment, or design a climate change solutions poster.
7. Once the art is complete take pictures of each student’s work using your school or personal digital camera, or use a scanner to digitize the images.
8. Post student stories and images such as artwork and photographs on the Student Web-Exchange. Depending on the age and computer skill level of the students, the uploading to the web can be done by you or by the student. Posting images to the Internet provides an opportunity for students to learn how to use the school scanner and how to upload images to the Internet. The posting process is all described in an easy and user-friendly way in the student exchange portion of the website. Photographs posted could depict:
o students with the person(s) they interviewed (review photo release forms on student web exchange portion of the site)
o student who wrote the report
o community that they live in
o hunting and fishing
o something referred to in the report
9. Students may wish to share their experience or story with the class. (optional)
10. Once submitted, wait a week or two and go into the student exchange to see class work as well as other students’ work.
Review students’ reports, stories and summaries for grammar, and demonstrated ability to translate interview results into a summary or story.
Evaluate the students work based on their artistic presentation.
Students may want to self-evaluate this lesson according to the following criteria:
•Did they enjoy this activity?
•What did they learn?
•How would they do it differently next time?
•What ranking out of 10 would student give themselves for this activity?
•How much effort did they put into this project (again on a scale of 1-10)
-tape recorder (optional) -video recorder (optional)
Source:Climate Change North
Resource Type:Lesson Plan
Subject(s):English / Language Arts, Social Studies, Aboriginal Studies,
Topic:Aboriginal Rights and Knowledge,
Level:Primary / ElementaryIntermediate / MiddleSecondary
Grade:JKK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12