The environment and Canada’s resource driven economy has been a recurring top story in the national news. There is currently an abundance of teachable moments to discuss the environment. The latest issue of LawNow magazine explores environmental causes and the law and is the perfect backgrounder for informed discussions about current events and environmental issues.
This Teacher’s Talk Law Now is a guide to hosting a classroom Earth Summit and how to use LawNow to direct the discussion. This lesson can be implemented in Social Studies, Science, or Legal Studies Module 2030. Teachers will portion 20 minutes of class time for five lessons to have a class discussion (and hopefully fiery debate!) on a topic from the magazine. Alternatively, this lesson could be condensed to a full single lesson dedicated to the Earth Summit. This lesson plan requires digital or printed copies of the following articles:
- The Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment;
- The Oil Sands: Westward – How?;
- Civil Disobedience, Environmental Protest and the Rule of Law;
- Nickel Shower: An Environmental Class Action; and
- Viewpoint 37-4: The Economy and The Environment.
Hosting a Classroom Earth Summit
The Week Before
- Divide the students into five groups
- Assign each group one of the LawNow article to summarize in point form
- Each group should create a focus question based on the article. This focus question will provide the discussion topic. For example a focus question for the article The Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment could be:
- Should the right to a healthy environment be enshrined in the Canadian constitution?
Earth Summit Week
- At the beginning of each lesson one of the groups will spend 5 minutes explaining their article.
- The presenting group will lead a class discussion of the article based on their focus question.
- The presenting group will record important quotes from the discussion to create a poster or blog post that captures key arguments from the debate.
- Assign each student a role as a stakeholder in environmental topics. The student will then approach each discussion question and debate from the perspective of their character.
- Explore the topic further by streaming this Nature of Things episode on Ecuador’s groundbreaking constitution that grants rights to nature.