Educators gather to contemplate Climate Change

Educators from Vermont and New York gathered at St Michaels College near Burlington, Vermont on Saturday, March 1o. Sponsored by CBEI ( the goal of the event was to share with teachers information and tools to teach about climate change—and an opportunity to think about how that could happen in their own classrooms. It was a great day!

I have done a lot of workshops with teachers. Sometimes they are most grateful for new information and a chance to try new things. It often gets better when they have time to ponder the complexity of their teaching—and have time to sort some things out. With a complex topic like climate change we had the need for all of these elements and teachers were happy with the results:

“Great job bringing super folks with a variety of perspectives together.”

“Presenters and flow were excellent!”

“This is one of the best professional development experiences I have ever had!”

One of the best parts of the day was when 6th grade students from Karin Ames class in South Hero, Vermont shared what they were doing in regards to climate change. The students were articulate, knowledgeable and inspirational!







Teacher Karin Ames shares the context of the students’ work.


Karin’s powerpoint is here: KARIN AMES-March 10 Powerpoint

Students in Karin’s class are involved in Young Writers Project—an organization that works in Vermont to foster excellent writing in schools. The links to their writing is not included–but you can find out more about the program by going to   Check it out!

In addition to the students sharing their work the day included presentations and workshops by:

LESLEY-ANN DUPIGNY-GIROUX, Geography Professor at University of Vermont and State Climatologist

Lesley-Ann did an amazing job explaining the fundamentals of climate change and sharing her views on how to share complex data with students. Learn more about Lesley-Ann’s work and her suggested resources:

Lesley-Ann writes: “The Vermont State Climate Office ( is the one stop portal to everything weather and climate about Vermont including links to the National Weather Service, Colchester Reef, past weather information as well as climate change resources.”

Also see the NSF-funded Diversity-Climate Network:

The UVM Geography Department>

At this site Lesley-Ann’s work is featured as someone who brings together climate and geospatial techniques.   <>

More information on her program for teachers can be found at:

Her powerpoint for the March 10 event can be found here: Climate change 101_Dupigny-Giroux







Lesley-Ann shares the basics of climate change




Colchester High School science teacher, Kara Lenorovitz explored “How feedback loops May Amplify Climate Change” with teachers in a hands-on Lab. For more information on this see her powerpoint: Amped Up Arctic Warming

Also-stay tuned for work that Kara is doing that will be available this summer (2012) for teachers.  She has been working to develop a curriculum guide for secondary school students about climate change and its specific implications for the northeastern United States.







Kara explores data related to Feedback Loops with teachers



Walter Poleman, an ecologist who directs the UVM PLACE program, shared his vibrant view of how to use GOOGLE EARTH to research, track and model changes in the local landscape. He also introduced a concept new to many at the workshop– phenology….a study of how living things respond to changes throughout the seasons.

Walter shared with us websites that link to his work and other resources related to place, phenology, and mapping:







Walter shares strategies for GOOGLE mapping



KEYNOTE BY RICHARD KUJAWA: “Climate Change, Water and People: A Geographer’s View”

In addition,  Richard Kujawa, a St Michaels Geography professor,  gave a brilliant keynote on how humans interact with places–and water— on the global scale. As a geographer he shared with us the concept of how humans shape places and places shape humans. When weather and conditions in some places become extreme–these relationships change. Examining these relationships can provide a key to how we might understand and plan for the challenges of a changing climate.

Here is a pdf of Richard’s powerpoint from the key note

Climate Change_Water_and_People_A_Geographers_View_Richard_KUJAWA_CBEI

Also this is a list of sources that he mentioned during his talk.

Links from KUJAWA Keynote






Richard talks with teachers during lunch.



It is always inspiring to hear how different ideas and strategies play out in classrooms. This day-long consideration of climate change came with some urgency. Many of the teachers were there – not as science teachers or writing teachers—but as inhabitants of this earth concerned with learning about and sharing ways they could help. That makes this work different.

And at the end of the day—I realized it wasn’t about the information shared and strategies discussed—although they were valued parts of the day. It was joining together in meaningful dialogue—and facing the complexity of the ideas and the enormity of the issues together. Teachers appreciated the many perspectives shared—from a climatologist, an ecologist, a geographer and two practicing teachers—and each other. The information was rich and complicated—just like life!

All of the resources will be posted on our website WatershED Matters:

Check out the Resources “sidebar” that has a wealth of local, national and global resources.

Stay in touch!

Amy Demarest-CBEI partner

One thought on “Educators gather to contemplate Climate Change

  1. Thanks for the great summary of the day’s events, Amy. I think the children were a great addition to the day. We’ll get the workshop presentations and materials up on WatershED Matters soon!

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