I had my high school social studies class first watch and read “Tell Them” by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. This poem is one of several Jetnil-Kijner poems recommended in the article, Climate Change, Gender, and Nuclear Bombs. Then, we watched the Josh Fox film, How To Let Go Of The World And Love All The Things That Climate Can’t Change (2016). After absorbing the art and messages, students chose imagery and quotes from the poem and the film to guide their research about other places and people on the frontlines of climate change. Finally, they used what they found in their research to compose their own “Tell Them” style poem.
(The lesson Teaching to the Heart: Poetry, Climate Change, and Sacred Spaces describes how another teacher used Jetnil-Kijiner’s work in her own curriculum.)
This activity was midway through our Modern World History / English Language Arts collaborative Climate Justice Unit. Students shared their poems in a read-around in History class. Poems were on display (and loosely “mapped” across a wall) for visitors to read during our unit final, which was a Climate Justice Symposium. During the symposium, Students presented TED style speeches about climate justice for their English class, and for social studies, students shared original lesson plans for incorporating climate justice into a variety of content areas and grade levels.