Top Resources For Students To Discover Real World Problems & Issues


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Are you looking for ways to help students learn about world issues: climate change, cultural diversity, biodiversity, education, water crisis, and more to build awareness about global issues and develop global competence?

Explore these best and insightful resources for ideas on bringing global dimensions into the classroom.

From changes in climate threatening food production to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic floods, the impacts of climate change are so visible on a global scale. Climate change has severe impacts on the weather systems; it has become somewhat unpredictable and poses a threat to the future situation. Today, it has become necessary to educate the masses about climate changes and take necessary action for a healthier future.

Here’s a comprehensive list of resources for students to learn about real-world problems, global issues affecting society today.

NASA’s Climate Kids website has a vast collection of climate science to life with fun games, interactive features, and exciting articles.

Another on the list, Climate Change Lessons: JPL Education, is a collection of climate change lessons and activities for grades K-12 aligned with Next Generation Science and Common Core Math Standards and incorporates NASA missions and science and current events and research.

NASA Wavelength is a reviewed collection of NASA Earth and space science resources, perfect for educators of all levels: K-12, higher education, and informal science education. You can find plenty of climate resources by filtering them according to the audience’s interest, topic, instructional strategy, and more.

From PDFs to YouTube videos, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies: STEM Educator Resources contains high school and undergraduate instructional modules developed as part of NASA GISS’s Climate Change Research Initiative.

Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network, another NASA’s learning resource, is a CLEAN project, a part of the National Science Digital Library. It provides a reviewed collection of resources to aid students’ understanding of the core ideas in climate and energy science, coupled with the tools to enable an online community to share and discuss teaching about climate and energy science.

You can also find a comprehensive set of culture-based climate educational resources, referring to Living Landscapes Climate Science Project. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy Education Resources has a rich collection of energy fundamentals videos, K-12 education resources, Spanish content, and more to teach climate change. National Geographic KidsNational Geographic EducationBetter World Ed are also some of the great resources.

Other than these, UNICEF’s World’s Largest Lesson has excellent and highly insightful learning resources promoting the use of the Sustainable Development Goals in learning so that children can contribute to a better future for all. Some of its lessons are The Earth Carer’s Guide To Climate ChangeGeneration Earth Shot, Artivism for nature, and a lot more.

We also know, it is important to educate kids about sustainable development goals is of utmost importance, as the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a key factor in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its objectives are one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal for Education SDG 4.7 and are considered an engine for achieving the 17 SDGs.

ESD empowers everyone to make informed decisions about environmental integrity, economic viability, and just society for present and future generations. These goals aim at providing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to address sustainable development challenges.

Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives is a resource bank designed especially for educators, planners, and practitioners. Teachers can use help from its hundreds of pedagogical ideas for classroom activities and multimedia resources detailing how best to integrate ESD into teaching and learning, from early childhood care to secondary education, and educate learners effortlessly. It covers resources on no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, and a lot more.

Furthermore, the Biodiversity and Climate Change: Transforming the Biosphere,” edited by Thomas E. Lovejoy and Lee Hannah, is another excellent resource that documents increasing climate crises like ocean acidification and extinction rates across the globe. According to Roger, who has worked as an environmental attorney for almost two decades fighting for international and domestic environmental public policy stated: “This book seems more predictable in the era of the global pandemic and worsening impacts of climate change.”

Comprising essays and poetry by 60 climate activists, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson; is a women-centric learning resource that demonstrates the power of women to create solutions, we need for the climate crisis and how the presence of women in the climate movement makes our solutions more inclusive and intersectional and women do this by centring equity and justice.

Authored by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions  book weaves science and faith, shed light on the justice dimensions of climate change, and leaves the reader with a sense of hope and a blueprint for action.”

It explains in detail the science underlying global warming and how fundamental Christian values should play a more significant role in the fight against climate change. American Museum of Natural History: Ology: Climate Change is another fun learning resource that comprises games, stories, hands-on activities, and videos based on climate change.

The Water Crisis is another primary concern for the world. Nearly 1 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases that could be reduced with access to safe water or sanitation. Every 2 minutes, a child dies from a water-related disease, resulting in reduced child and maternal mortality rates. At present, access to safe water and sanitation is the need of the hour to safeguard the masses. It is of utmost importance for young learners to explore issues like the effects of dirty and unsafe water, water scarcity, and the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene in a community. Learning resources like “Water Water Anywhere,” Dirty Water… So What?” Just the Facts: The Water Crisis by the Numbers, “Keep on Digging” Illustrates the principle of water abundance versus water scarcity, uses a jigsaw approach to teach about four potential effects of dirty water: poor health, increased hunger, perpetual poverty, and lack of access to education, lists of most commonly used, compelling and exciting facts about the world water crisis and have an annotated bibliography highlighting many of the top sources and agencies from across the water and sanitation sector, respectively.

Aside from these, to keep your students updated on world issues, introduce them to News-O-Matic EDU. It is an excellent way to incorporate daily current events into your classroom and make sure you are addressing Common Core State Standards. Read out the major news and invite students to connect the topic to their real-life situations. You can also set a time before or after class to allow students to read independently, complete related activities (such as submitting a design), and post comments on the classroom chat board (app only).

Make sure to consult the Teacher’s Guide for questions related to articles, scope, and sequence, as well as suggested discussion questions.

To let students explore homes and cultures worldwide,  Homes by Tinybop is one excellent choice for them. It is an interactive tour of homes around the world, in which kids see how other people live, eat, sleep, and play. It is all a discovery process with no instructions, so kids are free to explore independently. Starting from a world map, children can explore a house in the U.S., Yemen, Guatemala, or Mongolia. They can also view the home from the outside or get an x-ray-like view of the interior and then enter and explore each part of the home by tapping where they want to go. Children can see food, people who live in houses eat and even prepare for it. They can explore a lot more and learn.

Similar to Homes by Tinybop, Oddizzi is chock full of facts, figures, and tidbits to help kids understand the world we all live in. It contains short and crisp articles that are kid-friendly and nicely enhanced with colourful pictures and videos. The best features of this platform are that it allows kids to make real connections with kids from around the world. It conducts interviews and allows children to exchange experiences and learn first-hand and appreciate different people and cultures. The children also get a true sense of exciting adventure and “exotic” lifestyles while seeing how we all have in common.

To give students a global perspective of any subject, PenPal Schools is the best option. It is a website that allows classrooms and students worldwide to work together on collaborative projects that connect to every school subject. PenPal asserts that it has connected over 250,000 students in 140 countries. Also, PenPal projects link classes with like-age peers across the globe and allow teachers to browse the home page of constantly updated projects available, and filter for age, time commitment (one to six weeks), and subject.

Health Care has also become a prominent topic in the national debate; students are becoming aware of the rising costs, access, quality, and equity in the health sector. They are starting to understand both individual and societal importance. Like the topics mentioned above, students must understand the know-how of the health sector learn more about it.  Johns Hopkins and Stanford have several resources on it. Other than these, UN’s good health and well-beingPublic health resources are also recommendable.

Food Insecurity as our students become more aware of their surrounding communities and the peers they interact with each day, are starting to see differences. Differences in socioeconomic status, growth possibilities, housing, security, support services, and more. And with 13 million young people living in food-insecure homes, almost all of our students, along with educators, know someone hungry on a daily basis. It can often begin with service-based projects but can also lead to high-quality project-based learning, accompanied by research, data analysis, diverse solutions, and ultimately diverse calls to action if you want to see how a teacher and his students changed not only their school but the whole food insecure community. Check out Power Of A Plant,  Green Bronx MachineHeifer InternationalUN (FAO) ‘s Map of World HungerFood SecurityHost an Oxfam Banquet, the World Food Programme’s “Food ForceRice bowl lesson plansLearn & Teach – Food SovereigntyLesson Plan – Food InsecurityHunger and Food Security Lesson PlanFood Security Game, etc.

The issue of homelessness has received more attention than ever before, as more and more communities face an increasing homeless population. Additionally, opportunities for our students and schools to partner with local non-profit organizations that care for the homeless, this topic, like others, is also an excellent way to generate empathy among them and help raise adults who can solve problems, improve our communities, and see beyond themselves.

This topic may provide a variety of options to help students develop these skills. Finally, we also have an increasingly homeless student population. So pertinence and urgency are there. Many have set the stage for us to address this issue in our curriculum. Organizations like Bridge CommunitiesNational Coalition For The HomelessHomeless Hub, and Learning To Give are some of the many leading ways.

When it comes to education, every day that goes by, more and more people realize that our education systems are apparently not ready to make the significant changes needed to meet the learning needs of 21st-century students truly. Associated challenges include new literacy, skills, financial requirements, brain research, technology, outcomes, and methodologies. It is good to have more and more people demanding and implementing changes within and outside education. However, one of the persistent ironies in education is that we rarely ask the primary client, the students, what they should look like, what their education should look like, and what their education should look like. We must educate them about the issues and provide them with voices and choices at the same time. Learning resources like The Buck Institute for EducationEdutopia’s Five Ways To Give Your Students More Voice & ChoiceBarbara Bray’s Rethinking LearningreDesignquality education and TEDx Education.

Sustainability is a global issue that touches everything from energy to food, resources, economy, health, wellness, and more. Students are becoming increasingly aware that our future as a species depends on how we deal with sustainability challenges. They know that this challenge involves new ways of thinking, priorities, standards, and ways of doing things. Sustainability is forward-looking innovation. Students have tremendous opportunities to collaborate, think critically, communicate, and be creative when wondering if a current practice, method, resource, or industry is sustainable without radical change or change. The students who will take on these challenges will be our business, political and cultural leaders of the future. Teachers and students can find nearly limitless resources and partners. Green Education FoundationGreen Schools InitiativeStrategic Energy InnovationsFacing the Future, and Teach For America are some of the great resources.

Another on the list, Biodiversity is also one of the significant global concerns. It refers to the variety and number of species of life found within specific regions and in the world. While an ecosystem is an ensemble consisting of a specific environment and the living beings in it. There are many different species within the same ecosystem and a vast number of different ecosystems on earth.  

As per the estimates, nearly 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood. 2.6 billion people depend on agriculture, but 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation. Due to drought and desertification, 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares per minute), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown. Globally, 74% of the poor are directly affected by land degradation. 

Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8% are extinct, and 22% are at risk of extinction. Of the over 80,000 tree species, less than 1% have been studied for their potential use. 

In reality, Biodiversity education contributes to integrating protective ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies, and accounts. To educate students about Biodiversity, you can suggest  SDG Resources for Educators – Life On LandWWF toolkitConvention on Biological diversityscience buddiesNature and Biodiversity learning resourcesBiodiversity and nature. These resources have some incredibly insightful lesson plans, fun activities, and games to teach students about Biodiversity.

If you know of more informative and insightful resources for students to learn about the biggest world problems, please share in the comment box below!

About the Author

Author: Saniya Khan

Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview – India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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