Human Energy Systems | Activity 1.2

Target Student Performance

Students express ideas and record questions about why Arctic sea ice seems to be shrinking.

Resources You Provide

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


Prepare a computer with a projector to display the 1.2 Expressing Ideas and Questions about Arctic Sea Ice PPT. If you are planning on using the poster to record student ideas, print the poster ahead of class and prepare sticky notes for each student. Print one copy for each student of 1.2 Expressing Ideas and Questions Tool for Arctic Sea Ice and 1.2 Human Energy Systems Storyline Reading: Learning from the Work of an Atmospheric Chemist.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.


Use the student responses to the class discussions and also their ideas on the 1.2 Expressing Ideas and Questions Tool for Arctic Sea Ice , as well as the 1.2 Assessing the Expressing Ideas and Questions Tool for Arctic Sea Ice to assess their thinking at the beginning of the unit. By the end of the unit, students should be able to explain that arctic sea ice melt is a result of increased temperatures, which is a result of increases greenhouse gases, which is a result of human combustion of fossil fuels. For now, listen to students’ ideas, with attention to how they describe cause and effect. Some students may not use a cause and effect model to describe why the ice is melting. Others may suggest that it is due to “pollution,” “global warming,” or humans doing generally “bad” things to the environment without being able to explain the mechanism that causes the ice to melt.


  • Remember that this is the Expressing Ideas section of the unit. The goal is to get as many student ideas on the table as possible so they can compare their ideas with others and revisit their ideas later to see how they have changed. If students share incomplete or vague answers, ask them to elaborate and share as many details in their thinking as possible. This will make it easier to see how their ideas change over the course of the unit.

  • Refer back to Expressing Ideas and Questions Tools from past units as a model.
  • Strategic grouping with strong speakers 
  • Provide sentence stems to aid individual writing and for discussion
  • Insist on ideas and questions from all students
  • Emphasize that there are no incorrect answers and check for alternative ideas that may be cultural in nature
Extending the Learning