Getting Started to Create Your Own Climate and Energy Units

Download the following resources for step-by-step guidance in developing your own lessons and units:

Get Started Guide Unit Planning Template Lesson Planning Template Instructional Strategies Return to the Overview

Why use CLEAN to teach about climate and energy topics?

Climate science and energy technology are some of the most rapidly changing science and engineering fields. It is a challenge to have the time and knowledge to find credible and up-to-date climate science and energy educational resources. The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) is a comprehensive source of high-quality, NGSS-aligned resources for grades K-16.

The CLEAN Collection is a free online searchable database containing over 700 classroom-ready and data-rich lesson plans, activities, labs, demos, videos, and visualizations on climate and energy science.

All "Selected by CLEAN" resources come from trusted sources and have been rigorously reviewed by both research scientists and teaching experts to ensure their scientific accuracy and educational value. Some issues like climate change and energy production are rapidly evolving and the CLEAN Collection is supplemented and reviewed regularly.

How do I integrate the Next Generation Science Standards in my teaching?

"How do I get started?" This is one of the first thoughts when starting to use the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to guide your teaching and students' learning. The NGSS create an open playing field with an infinite number of possibilities for combining diverse scientific phenomena into interesting problems and projects that have the potential to inspire instruction and motivate student learning.

The NGSS provides a three-dimensional instructional model arranged by grade-level Performance Expectations (PEs) and consisting of the Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and the Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs), which work together and support each other in teaching and learning science content.

How can CLEAN be used to create three-dimensional NGSS-aligned units?

CLEAN resources are aligned with NGSS. Within NGSS, the DCIs represent science core ideas (content), the SEPs lay out how core ideas are taught (skills), and the CCCs (connections) weave the storyline of the unit together.

The first step in planning units using NGSS is to identify the PE (standard), or bundle of PEs, that meet your grade-level and curriculum learning objectives. The next step is to identify which specific DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs "unpack" the PE(s) selected in order to create a coherent storyline for your unit.

Since educators are most experienced in planning and teaching units by content area, the DCIs are a logical starting point when creating NGSS-aligned units. The SEPs and CCCs are also entry points for developing units using NGSS.

What are phenomena and why are they used in instruction?

Phenomena are observable events in nature and people's lives, such as the phases of the moon and the buoyancy of ships. To engage students in actively understanding (rather than passively being taught) about a science core idea, the phenomena should be framed in a way that connects to students' interests and identities. The educational goal is to progress from students "learning about" to "figuring out" concepts.

Phenomena can connect to multiple NGSS DCIs and be used at both the lesson and unit level. A unit level phenomenon, or anchoring phenomenon, takes students the entire unit to understand and be able to explain the science behind it in their own words. A lesson-level phenomenon builds students' understanding towards the bigger science concept.

For more in-depth information about phenomena, see the Phenomena for NGSS teaching and learning website.

Which instructional strategies are used for creating units?

In tandem with selecting science standards, it is essential that the development, instruction, and revision of lessons be guided by an understanding of students and learning. There are a vast array of Instructional Strategies, each with a unique process and set of expected learning outcomes, including:

  • Problem-Based
  • Project-Based
  • Place-Based
  • Phenomenon-Based
  • Data-Based
  • Solutions-Focused
  • Arts Integration
  • Argument-Driven Inquiry

Any one of these strategies has the potential to provide the structure and depth necessary to meet the NGSS. Select strategies that work well in your class. In choosing the right strategy, pair it to the science core ideas and the grade level of your class. For example, project-, place-, and phenomenon-based learning are especially powerful with students in middle school grades. For high school grades, students' learning thrives with argument-driven inquiry and phenomena-based, problem-based, and solutions-focused strategies.

How do I plan my own climate and energy units?

The Unit Planning Template (for curricula/larger units) and Lesson Planning Template (for mini-units/lessons) provide step-by-step guidance in developing sound instructional and content-rich units. Both planning templates are available as editable downloads.

For examples, check out these ready-to-use units Phenology, The History of Earth's Oceans and Atmosphere, and Debating the Grid.

Explore Examples of CLEAN-NGSS Units

Phenology UnitHistory of Oceans and Atmosphere UnitDebating the Grid Unit