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Climate Change: Empowering Deaf Students to Think Critically and Take Action

  • Author(s): Wickman, Jennifer Ann
  • Advisor(s): Jones, Gabrielle A
  • et al.
Abstract

Deaf students often lack access to STEAM resources, specifically climate change, due to no captioned videos or not being ASL-friendly. Deaf students have missed opportunities to enhance their creativity, gain knowledge in STEAM, experience hands-on activities, and learn how to be advocates for themselves and their communities. To address this problem, the curriculum is designed to teach students about how humans impact the micro environment as a result of trash pollution and deforestation, and how the macro environment (i.e. global warming) harms the health and safety of humans, animals and environment.

The curriculum is designed for middle school students and consists of two units and four lessons each. The first unit focuses on identifying the actions we do to harm the Earth, the different signs of climate change, the extent of damage on divergent ecosystems (micro environment), and how we mitigate to minimize humans' impact on Earth. The second unit is focused on how the consequences of our actions and how the actions as a result have harmed us, our animals and our planet. Students will analyze evidence of climate change, summarize macro environment impacts on humans, argue political and social responses, and create a call to action plan.

The curriculum used five learning theories: Inquiry-Based Learning, Empowerment Theory, Collaborative Learning Theory, Metalinguistic Awareness Theory and Socially Mediated Theory. The learning theories are used to encourage a student-centered classroom, exploration in science, interaction between peers and empower students to take action towards an issue they see in their communities or the world. Deaf students need to have access to STEAM resources as it will empower them to think critically and to contribute to their society.

Students will learn and produce work in both ASL and English. The curriculum draws on students’ funds of knowledge, encourages language transfer between ASL and English, and provides all aspects of practical, authentic STEAM instruction. The curriculum goals will have students to: 1) describe the phenomena of climate change in how we impact the Earth and in how these actions harm us in both ASL and English, 2) problem solve the issues within climate change by providing clear and detailed solutions and justifying their arguments in both ASL and English, 3) enhance their research skills, and 4) increase climate change awareness in personal and community lives and develop a call to action plan.

Due to COVID-19, I was not able to implement my curriculum at my student teaching placement. I created an online platform using Google Site (link: https://sites.google.com/view/climate-change-curriculum/home?authuser=1) to make the curriculum interactive for students to receive access to science in ASL and English at home during the pandemic.

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