Levi Duquette
Environmental Science, Visual Arts, Environmental Studies, Reading Informational Text, Measurement and Data
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Diagram/Illustration, Lesson, Reading
High School
  • Art
  • Artist
  • Charts
  • Climate Change
  • Data
  • Fact Checking
  • Graphs
  • Misinformation
  • Research
  • SIFT
  • Social Media
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Interactive, Text/HTML

    Artists, Information Literacy & Climate Change

    Artists, Information Literacy & Climate Change


    This unit explores the various ways information and ideas about climate change are presented through a variety of media. This includes the evaluation of social media posts, research into climate change issues, and an exploration of contemporary art and artists. 

    Copyright, Funding Source & Permissions

    Except where otherwise noted, this work by Tavia Quaid and Shana Ferguson, Vancouver Public Schools, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All logos and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Sections used under fair use doctrine  (17 U.S.C. § 107) are marked. 

    This work contains links to websites and videos operated by third parties and references to digital platforms. These links and platforms are provided for your convenience and do not constitute or imply any affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship, approval, verification or monitoring.

    Funding for this unit was provided through a Media Literacy Grant from Washington's State's OSPI. Materials do not reflect the views or endorsement of OSPI.

    Unit image from Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Generic License.

    Unit Overview

    At the end of this unit, students will be able to:

    • Evaluate the validity of social media and digital media information
    • Express their understanding of digital information through summarization and paraphrasing skills
    • Work collaboratively to create a slide presentation synthesizing new knowledge regarding the methods artists use to increase societal awareness of climate change

    Student understandings: 

    • Humans actions and behaviors are causes of global warming and climate change.
    • Social media posts are often inaccurate and information can be validated or authenticated to help establish accuracy.
    • Research institutions and journals and ethical journalism provide corroborating sources of information.
    • Misinformation is common on social media platforms; using SIFT a fact checking/source verifying method helps establish valid and unreliable information.
    • Artists add to the conversation regarding climate change using various methods and techniques that draw attention to different aspects of climate change.

    Essential Questions: 

    • What evidence identifies how humans contribute to climate change?
    • How do different types of information help people understand the global climate?
    • How can a source evaluation process help individuals to be accurately informed and recognize attempts by individuals, organizations or producers to promote mis-information?
    • How can art promote a greater understanding or awareness of environmental issues?

    Students will know: 

    • How to use the “number-summary-paragraph” format of note taking to demonstrate comprehension of prose non-fiction.
    • Apply the SIFT method for evaluation social media posts.
    • The methods used by specific artists to raise awareness of different aspects of climate change.

    Students will be skilled at:

    • Demonstrating new knowledge through note taking, and small group collaboration.
    • Applying the SIFT method to evaluate social media posts.
    • Collaboration to produce an informative slide presentation.

    Using Art to Represent Media

    To begin the unit, students can practice creating art based on prior emotions or ideas on two shared class articles related to climate change. As a high interest and evolving topic, we recommend finding a recent article at a suitabel reaidng level for the class. We used a database article, but many newspapers, online science organization and other sources would work well. 

    The students will decide what information from each article they found to represent climate change the most, and design a piece for it. Students will then discuss the differences they see from the views of the two articles, and how media literacy matters even with things like climate change.

    SIFT Method

    Mike Caulfield at WSU Vancouver developed the SIFT Method or the 4 Moves to help people to evaluate claims and to distinguish fact from fiction.

    You can introduce the SIFT method by sharing your own process in evaluating a social media post. You can also find examples of fact checking from the News Literacy Project's Sift weekly educator newletter. 

    This slide deck can be updated with a newer example of how to apply the SIFT steps to a social media post.

    Student Activity: 

    • Ask students individually or in groups to find their own climate change social media post and to practice the SIFT method. They could brainstorm hashtags to use to find posts. 
    • You can also provide students with a library of posts to choose from. It helps to link to the original post so students can evaluate the source by opening their feed/profile. 
    • While some students may not have social media accounts, they can use YouTube or a social media platform that has open posts that do not require an account, ie Twitter or Instagram.

    Activity follow ups:

    • Once students understand the SIFT method, you can begin each class with a quick warm up with recent social media posts. Studenst can also bring in sample posts from their feeds for class evaluation.

    Reading Charts & Graphs

    Begin by introducing students to various types of charts and graphs and how they can be used to mislead people. 

    Pacific Science Center's Online Uncovering Reality Exhibit walks students through examples of misleading graphs. 

    You can also use the New York Times' What's Going On in This Graph? to share examples, look at a variety of graphs or as a daily warm up. 

    Group Activity: In small groups, students work with one of several New York Times articles that feature graphs and charts regarding social and environmental issues related to climate change (links provided below). Each group identifies the type of visual information and the purpose of the information in connection to the article. The group agrees on the key points of the article and visual information and then a spokesperson for each group shared the results with the whole class. 

    Individual/Partner/Group Activity: Students visit the website and chose one of the Top 10 Climate myths. They can evaluate the information provided and explained what the myth was and how the site demonstrated a misuse of visual information by those who support the myth.

    Artists & Climate Change Research

    Show examples of artists whose work emphasizes a climate change issue. You can use this article or curate your own list/resources.

    Introduce the Artists and Climate Change Worksheet that students will use to demonstrate their understanding of two artists' purpose and perspective on particular climate issues. You can assign artists or have students sign up for specific artists they would like to study. After conducting their own reading and research, they will work in small groups on a final presentation.

    Students can select, read, and take notes on articles that support and provide scientific information on the climate topics connected to their artists' work.

    After completing the worksheet, students can collaborate on a single paragraph per artist/topic and explain what they now understood about the artist and the climate topic featured in the artist’s work. This paragraph can be written in MLA format and should include a Works Referenced or Works Cited page depending on whether the group used quotations or wrote only using their own words.  This work becomes the foundation for their group slide presentation project.

    Artists & Climate Change Presentation (Final Assessment)

    Students will individually reflect and present their learnings and findings from the lesson. They will present the article they had, and then the piece they created to associate with it. After, they will discuss two artists whose work represents climate change and how their work could compare to the students or the articles read.