History and Current Issues for the Classroom

Tag: iBooks Textbooks

Young People Take Action on Climate Change

“Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come. I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.”

—Severn Suzuki, 1992

In 1992, thirteen-year-old Severn Suzuki spoke at the largest gathering of international leaders in history—the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—and she quickly became known as “the girl who silenced the world in five minutes.”  Her words helped put the issue of global climate change on the UN agenda.

The Earth Summit set in motion a series of international climate change conferences that continue to this day, with a major conference coming up this year. December 2015 is the deadline for international leaders to settle a new, binding international agreement on emissions reductions to prevent the most dangerous effects of climate change.

Now, more than twenty years after Severn Suzuki urged leaders from around the world to consider the importance of environmental issues, a new generation of young people is demanding that policy makers take action on climate change. In this video, fourteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and his younger brother Itzcuauhtli share their perspectives on their work to build a global network of teens fighting for greener policies and why climate change matters. The two indigenous activists are youth leaders of the organization Earth Guardians.

Note: Teachers should preview this video in advance before showing it to their students. Some language may not be appropriate for the classroom.

Xiuhtezcatl and Itzcuauhtli’s work is inspiring—they are models for the power that young people can have in creating change both at a local and global scale. Xiuhtezcatl and Itzcuauhtli are not alone—young people around the world are pushing for their societies to make positive changes that will help protect the environment. In this new video from the Choices Program, climate change experts discuss some of the many ways young people can take action on climate change.

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For more videos on climate change from the Choices Program, click here.

Each of these videos would provide a great jumping off point for discussing climate change in the classroom. Because climate change is often talked about as having potentially catastrophic effects, thinking about it can feel overwhelming and hopeless. But these videos, without downplaying the seriousness of climate change, focus on how much we can do to combat climate change and emphasize tangible steps that individuals and societies can take. This approach is crucial to keeping students engaged with the issue.


Climate Change and Questions of JusticeChoices has a suite of new resources on climate change. We have recently released our unit Climate Change and Questions of Justice, which is available in both print and digital formats. One of the lessons in the unit asks students to work in groups to design their own NGO to address their top concerns about climate change. The students then create a visual or multimedia publicity tool for their organization.

In addition, we have a fresh collection of videos to complement the readings and lessons included in the unit. These videos feature leading climate change experts discussing why climate change matters; who is most responsible for and vulnerable to climate change; how individuals, local governments, NGOs, and international leaders are responding to climate change; and much more.

Making the Most of iBook’s Features in the Classroom

By Felicia Ostrom, Choices Teaching Fellow

I love the Choices approach to teaching historical and current events, and I am so excited about the new iBooks format.  Whether you are a 1:1 iPad school, are working out of a cart of iPads, or just have a handful to use in your classroom, there are so many ways to use the iBooks Textbooks to make the material more engaging.  I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite features of the iBooks Textbooks, and some ideas for making the most of the features in your classroom.

Embedded Scholars Videos

One of the great resources of the Choices program is the Scholars Online videos.  Whether you show them in your classroom or post a link on your website for students to access, we know that they are a valuable teaching tool.  However, the videos are short and depending on when students access them, may be removed from the content.  With the iBooks Textbooks, the corresponding scholars videos are embedded in the text, along with a focus question.  This allows the students to view the video as they are reading the related material.  I believe this helps enhance the student text, and allows the students to establish connections and relevance between the text and the video.


Dictionary and Web Search

The Choices text is written at a high level, and probably contains at least a few terms with which students are unfamiliar.  The dictionary feature allows them to define a term with one click, making them much more likely to seek the meaning of a word.  This feature also allows the reader to immediately look up the term on Wikipedia or takes them to general web search results.  These tools are especially helpful if the students is seeking the meaning of a broad term, historical event or period, or person.


Media Galleries

Some students may be likely to skip the pictures in text, but I find students less likely to skip over pictures when they are “clickable” (let’s face it, students love to click and touch with technology).  The iBook version of Choices curriculum contains media galleries that allow the students to view a series of images.  For example, in the Human Rights iBook there is an image gallery of human rights throughout history.  This series of four images tells a story, and could be the source of great classroom conversation.  This may have been something an individual teacher would have had to compile in the past, but now Choices has it put together for you.


Text Selection Features

These are my very favorite aspects of using iBooks Textbooks in the classroom!  With the text selection and highlight features, students can use these tools in a variety of ways.  Highlighting is a simple feature and it is not unique to iPads, but it is a valuable tool for helping students to be active, engaged readers.  Some ideas for using the highlight feature:

  • If your students are working off an iPad cart, and you have multiple sections using the iBooks Textbooks, the highlight feature can be a tool to encourage collaboration between sections.  Assign a different color to each section.  Ask students to highlight sentences/phrases that they think are most important, and leave a note about the importance of what they highlighted or further questions.  Students get excited to see what the other students highlighted and wrote, and it is all entirely based on the text.  You can have each section comment on whether they agree or disagree with the other students’ highlighting, and have them write to each other. 
  • For Part III of the iBook, the case studies, have students choose two colors.  One color is for arguments in favor of the focus question and one color is for arguments against the focus question.  As students read the summary and primary documents associated with the case study, they can highlight important information to help form an opinion on the focus question.
  • Part IV of the iBook is the options portion.  Students can use the highlight and study card feature to help with their oral presentations.  We want our students to reference the text and have opinions rooted in fact.  This feature allows the students to highlight a quote in the text and then summarize it in their own words, write a question, or write an argument based off the quote.  It will then be generated as a study card with the text quote on one side, and the student’s note on the other side.  These digital cards will help the students during the role play.


Resources for Activities


Chapter 6 of the iBook contains many of the documents included in the Teacher Resource Book.  Your students will not require hard copies of the documents to use with the iBook material, and you will save yourself a trip to the copier.  I love that all the information is in one place, so students can combine their notes and study cards for the different sections.

The Choices iBooks Textbooks combine great features with the wonderful curriculum we’ve come to expect from Choices.  Your students will benefit and have fun learning with this interactive resource.

iPads as Collaborative Student Tools

The classroom is a dynamic space, and iPads can be powerful tools for students to interact with one another. In this video from EdTechTeacher,  Greg Kulowiec shares six ways that students can use iPads to collaborate on projects. See his post on Edudemic for a breakdown of each way.

In every Choices curriculum unit students work in groups to have collaborative discussions, build on others’ ideas, and formulate persuasive arguments.  The apps mentioned in the video above would easily support this type of group work.

Learn more about Choices iBooks Textbooks and try one free here.

Technology Integration in the Classroom

Edutopia recently put together a short video of why the integration of technology in the classroom is so vital.

Over the past several years we’ve been integrating more and more technology into our curriculum units and our Teaching with the News lessons. With Scholars Online Videos you can bring university scholars and policy experts into your classroom. Now with iBooks Textbooks those scholars are integrated directly in our text.

How are you integrating technology in your classroom?


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