5 Reasons to Use Fact Cards for Research
Environmental education tackles complex issues that can be made easier to understand using Environmental Fact Cards designed specifically for children, tweens, and teens. When teaching an environmental unit as part of a geography or science class one of the biggest stumbling blocks can be accessing reliable information online. Too often, students get bogged down in research. Instead of spending instructional time focused on inquiry, critical thinking, and activism, the lesson (or many lessons) are allocated to fact gathering. Environmental education has a higher purpose of inspiring learners to protect the Earth and conserve its natural resources. To shift the focus to a deeper understanding of the importance of stewardship, a solution is to use Environmental Fact Cards.
Environmental Fact Cards are information sheets that summarize critical facts about major environmental concerns. Using easy to understand language, students can learn about the cause, effects, and solutions related to a problem. Complex issues are organized simply using illustrations, bullet point descriptions, and tables. So, where can you get Environmental Fact Cards? Keep reading to find out…
Environmental Fact Cards For Kids
TechnoKids’ just released the Environmental Studies unit, TechnoEnvironment. It applies an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing current environmental issues. TechnoEnvironment includes 14 environmental lessons, 5 skill reviews that focus on environmental topics (e.g., water conservation, household waste, plastic pollution), plus 6 extension activities designed to challenge learners. The great news is that as an added bonus, TechnoEnvironment also includes Environmental Fact Cards. These information sheets are ideal for teaching an environmental studies course, environmental education unit, or Earth Day workshop.
The Environmental Fact Cards included with TechnoEnvironment, are a collection of 15 one-page documents that tackle the most pressing environmental issues. Topics include acid rain, clear cutting, endangered reefs, fuel emissions, garbage, global warming, invasive species, kudzu invasion, mining, nuclear energy, oil sands, overfishing, plastic pollution, poaching, and water consumption. Each fact card is written in language specifically aimed at young readers in Grades 6 and up. Instantly students can learn about:
- harmful effects
- viable solutions
- benefits and drawbacks to a selected solution
- interesting facts
Why Use Fact Cards When Teaching Environmental Education?
Why use Environmental Fact Cards instead of having your students research their topics online? Here are five great reasons.
1. Time Savers for Teachers and Students
The main goals of environmental education are to foster an awareness about environmental issues, provide opportunities to protect and improve the environment, and establish new lifestyle choices. During an environmental studies unit, these objectives are what instructional time needs to be allocated towards – not Internet research. If students spend multiple classes searching online (often with limited success), this restricts the time spent on more meaningful activities. The fact cards included with TechnoEnvironment resources summarize the basic information that students need to transform their knowledge into action. In one clear outline, they can read the key facts. With a grasp of the main issues, they can then begin to devise solutions and engage others.
2. Support for Learning Disabilities
Every classroom has students with a wide range of reading abilities. Those who are not strong readers or who have disabilities find a research assignment difficult. On environmental topics, there is an enormous wealth of information online. As a result, weaker readers may find the research component of an environmental studies unit daunting and maybe even overwhelming. By using a fact card instead, they can master a thorough understanding of the topic on a single page.
3. Simplified Language for Easy Research
Due to their scientific nature, environmental web sites are often written with lots of jargon and scientific terminology. They are designed for an audience of knowledgeable experts, not middle school students in Grades 6-12. TechnoKids’ fact cards simplify the language and clarify the issues in a brief and summarized format. Students gain a ‘big picture’ insight into the subject without having to wade through pages and pages of high-level academic data.
4. Unbiased Information
Online environmental information is often hosted by biased stakeholders. Researchers need to be critical thinkers to recognize whether the website is partial to viewing the issue from a particular perspective or not. Although detecting bias is an important skill and should be taught explicitly, using the fact cards eliminates this additional task. The Environmental Fact Cards present the material in an impartial and neutral way.
5. Key Word Search Skills
Using Environmental Fact Cards does not eliminate the teaching of research skills. You can still have students learn to skim and scan for specific information using these resources. This activity can be done on paper with actual highlighters, or it can be done in Adobe Reader using the highlight text tool. As a guided lesson, instruct students to look for specific data using highlighters. For example, ask them to look on their fact card to find and highlight:
- harmful effects with yellow
- solutions with pink
- interesting facts with green
Do You Need Environmental Education Lessons?
Environmental science is a crucial and relevant area of study. It is part of most science curriculum and can often be a separate course in high school. TechnoKids has two projects that target environmental learning objectives. TechnoEarth transforms students into environmental stewards. They use Google Apps to publish an infographic as a powerful call to action. TechnoEnvironment also has students play the role of earth keepers as they design a series of publications using Microsoft Publisher. The 15 Environmental Fact Cards are just one of the many resources included with those projects. Additional instructional materials include reproducible worksheets, clear example files, templates, quizzes, checklists, and marking sheets. Contact TechnoKids to learn more!