I’ve used both the Stories from the Climate Crisis Mixer and the Climate Crisis Trial role play learning activities in my 8th grade language arts class to introduce students to our argumentative unit at the end of the year. I wanted to introduce students to a relevant and complex topic at the start of the unit to get them thinking about the spectrum of perspectives that make up all different sides of an argument.
The climate mixer activity was easy to implement, got my students talking, and made the climate crisis personal by focusing on specific individuals impacted by climate change. Including perspectives of people who benefit from climate change really pushed my learners to consider who might benefit from any issue.
The mock trial format for the climate crisis role play also pushed my students beyond simple answers to complex questions by demonstrating how multiple parties hold responsibility for the current crisis. In the end, many agreed that several parties were to blame, some more than others, but that assigning blame did not lead to a solution to the crisis. The argumentative work we did in our writing moving forward reflected this solutions based focus for argumentative writing, acknowledging responsibility for current issues while focusing more on ways to solve complex issues. The topic of this role play was complex, but the engaging format of a trial kept my learners engaged and many noted the mock trial as one of their favorite learning activities from the year.