This unit was created by Dani McCormick, a fourth-grade teacher in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2021-2022 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across ten 45-minute class periods, with work outside of class.

For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.


Students will be able to…

  • Analyze underreported stories on the causes and impacts of climate change  from multiple perspectives in order to deepen their empathy. 
  • Identify the main idea and key details of texts focused on how climate change disproportionately impacts vulnerable people and potential solutions to combat the impacts of climate change.
  • Use close reading strategies to analyze these texts and determine how writers and artists develop credibility and empathy. 
  • Identify an impacted person in their community and write an article that amplifies this person’s story and advocates for a climate solution.
  • Integrate high quality writing craft identified through analysis of examples to establish credibility and empathy in their own writing.

Unit Overview:

In this unit, students explore climate concepts and investigate underreported stories in order to uncover who is most impacted by climate change, why, and what climate initiatives can be taken to enhance community care and safety.  Students will begin exploring written articles and photojournalism projects from the Pulitzer Center to explore multiple perspectives on the impact of climate change on communities in D.C. They will then use close reading strategies to understand, interpret and analyze these pieces, and use them to inspire their own reporting. Ultimately, students will amplify the stories of people in their own communities who have been impacted by climate change, and advocate for concrete climate solutions with original articles.

Performance Task(s):

Persuasive Letter Informed by Research and Interviews:

Students will choose a community member, ideally who is local to their communities,  who has been impacted by climate change to profile. They will write an article about the community members they have selected. First, they will conduct original interviews with the people they have selected. Then, they  will research and/or utilize articles, maps, data, and interviews to write an article that describes the community member’s biography, how they’re impacted by climate change, and concrete solutions that would improve community care in the face of the climate crisis. Students’ persuasive letters will be evaluated by their peers, and then by the teacher, using the Opinion writing checklist  by Lucy Calkins and Colleagues from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project from Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing, Grade 4 (firsthand: Portsmouth, NH).

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