Where Dystopian Fiction Meets Water Journalism

One way to help students become climate stewards is to model how reading paired climate texts enhances our ability to both problem-spot and problem-solve.  In our haste to offer solutions, we may insufficiently consider the root causes of environmental problems.  While reading Neal and Jarrod Shusterman’s novel Dry, my students and I pore over local […]

Fostering Environmental Storytelling: Making an Eco-Zine

The question—What kind of access to environmental news stories do we have?— is one that arouses concern in my classroom.  According to my high school students, unless you’re taking an AP Environmental Science class, chances are slim that climate change is being addressed, let alone mentioned.  This is troubling for students who are mindful of […]

Environmental Justice, Comic Book Storytelling, and Seed Work

In Charlie La Greca and Rebecca Bratspies’ environmental justice comic, Mayah’s Lot, the image of the aspen seed is prominent.  The titular character intends to plant an aspen seed in a garden she secretly tends on a vacant lot, just before finding out a corporation’s plan to transform the lot into an industrial toxic storage waste facility.  […]

Adjusting to Uncertainty: Systems Thinking with Octavia Butler

Reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower in the year 2020 was a slightly eerie experience: so much of what Butler has presented in her fictional novel set in the 2020s is happening: uncontrolled fires, resource depletion, and rising sea levels.  Last year, the novel appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, twenty-three years […]

Smokey Bear Persuasion and Wildfire Prevention Messaging

Recently, my student Daphne described taking a hike last month, as the Bobcat Fire burned 50 miles away within the Angeles National Forest.  As she made her way down the hiking trail, she encountered a small lizard covered in ash, demonstrating just how far the smoke and ash had traveled.  One of the largest fires […]

Nature Poetry and Survival Instincts: Floating with the Vampire Squid

2020 has provided unique challenges to the effort to close the “Nature Gap”: minimal time spent enjoying outdoor play and increased time spent in front of screens has led to greater nature disconnection.  One way I’ve tried to address this gap in the virtual classroom is to use poetry writing as an entry point for […]