• Guide to using G-WOW Model
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Climate change is a complex issue. Scientific research from state, tribal, and federal agencies is available through documents, charts, and tables to document current and projected climate change impacts on global and more local levels. However, students often have difficulty interpreting this data, understanding the urgency it suggests, or finding motivation to take action. Something is missing.

Climate change research supports the importance of “local, Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of climate change gained through experiential learning to be as or more effective than simply studying analytical climate change data to increasing climate change literacy” (“The Psychology of Climate Change Communication”, 2009, Columbia University).

G-WOW provides what’s missing in most climate change curricula—the integration of climate change science with Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of how it is affecting both the environment and people.

The G-WOW curriculum is an on-line resource to increase students’ climate change literacy by evaluating both scientific and cultural evidence of climate change impacts. The curriculum is designed for educators within the Lake Superior region and the Ojibwe Ceded Territory of the Great Lakes, but it can be used as a template for integrating climate change science with “Traditional Knowledge is the total understanding by indigenous people of their relationship to the earth and the universe, and the knowledge inherent within that relationship. This knowledge includes the spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental aspects of a person and related components of the earth and universe to these aspects.”- Stewart Hill, Cree. traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) found in other regions.

This curriculum is designed for middle school and above learners. It uses a multi-disciplinary approach, integrating a variety of subjects including math, science, language arts, social studies, history, civics, and the arts. Curriculum activities give students valuable tools such as critical thinking, respect for all cultures that share this environment, and knowledge they can use to take action within their own culture and community to make a difference.
We recommend that students have a working knowledge of climate change principles before engaging in the G-WOW curriculum. Click on the words “CLIMATE CHANGE” in the center of the G-WOW logo, to learn the basics of climate change. Teachers needing a brush up can access the Climate Change Core Competency Training Module

The G-WOW curriculum investigates climate change impacts on traditional Ojibwe cultural practices or “lifeways” that depend on the sustainability of key species found in the Lake Superior region. The Ojibwe have generations of experience in living with, and using these resources. They have a unique perspective to evaluate how climate change is affecting these species and the environment they depend on. Their TEK provides place-based evidence of climate change that goes short term changes that may be caused by weather variability. The changes they are observing provide a “place-based” indicator of how climate change can affect all cultures and communities. Ojibwe language, TEK, other cultural elements integrated into the curriculum offer added richness and insight into these traditional lifeways.

Students are challenged to evaluate whether culture and science agree by comparing Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of climate change against current climate change scientific research. They will develop and test their own hypothesis to determine climate change is real and what future trends might mean for the environment and people of all cultures.

In addition to helping students uncover the facts about climate change, the G-WOW curriculum encourages critical thinking skills to integrate and evaluate place-based and scientific evidence, increases understanding of Ojibwe culture, and encourages students to be active citizens in addressing this issue.
The G-WOW curriculumn is based on the following climate change literacy principles:
  • Climate change is real.
  • Human’s contribute to climate change.
  • Weather and climate are different.
  • Climate affects culture.
  • We can make a difference.

The G-WOW curriculum elements (in blue) incorporate scientific method elements while integrating place-based and scientific evidence. The G-WOW curriculum adds “Taking Action” on knowledge gained through service learning projects.

The G-WOW curriculum is organized into four seasonal units corresponding to these traditional Ojibwe lifeways: maple sugaring and birch bark harvesting (spring), fishing (summer), wild rice harvesting (fall), and respecting our culture (winter). Each of these traditional practices depends on the sustainability of a key plant or animal species. 

Understanding the impact of climate change on culture requires understanding how climate change may impact the key species the cultural practice depends on. 

Each unit is designed to stand alone as a separate curriculum, although additional units will build the students’ climate change literacy, and broader understanding of climate change science and cultural perspectives. 

Each guides students through the four sequential learning activities, corresponding to the major icons within the G-WOW logo. The “Ojibwe Lifeways” and “Investigate the Science” sections build climate change literacy. The “What Can We Do” and “Talking Circle” sections guide students to act on that knowledge, develop a climate change service learning project, and share their experiences with others. 

The G-WOW curriculum features “menus” of experiential and classroom learning options. This gives teachers and/or students opportunities to customize their learning experiences through field experiences, web-based investigations, and imbedded media and other resources contained within the G-WOW website unit. Definitions for technical or unfamiliar words highlighted in yellow will open when the cursor is placed over them. Activity Guides are worksheets that pose critical questions in order to achieve the unit’s learning objectives. 

Teachers should plan one 30-minute session for each Activity Guide, plus additional research time in between. Additional time will be needed for students to develop and complete a service learning project; and share their results.

The curriculum is accessed by moving the cursor over the OJIBWE LIFEWAYS icon in the G-WOW logo. Smaller icons, representing the key species associated with a seasonal cultural “lifeway” will be displayed. Seasonal units are opened by clicking on these icons.

The seasonal units within the Ojibwe Lifeways include:

Maple Sugaring and Birch bark Harvesting (spring) Key species: sugar maple and paper birch
Fishing (summer) Key species: cold water fish species such as brook trout, walleye, northern pike, musky
Wild Rice Harvesting (fall) Key species: Wild rice (manoomin)
Respecting Our Culture (winter) Key species: American marten
Hear the Water Speak!  "Nibi" means "water" in the language of the Lake Superior Ojibwe people. Nibi is sacred.
Each seasonal unit includes learning objectives and background information on the ecology of the key
species(s) giving students baseline knowledge to use in assessing the impact of current or predicted climate change stressors on that species. The Connecting With Culture section provides Ojibwe perspectives on the traditional cultural practice and the key species it relies on. A menu of resources offers options for students to investigate Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. place-based evidence of climate change impacts.

The Connecting With Culture Activity Guide is a worksheet that prompts students to use the menu of resources to investigate interconnectedness of the cultural practice to the Ojibwe people and the environment. Students will reflect on how a changing climate could impact this relationship and what this would mean for the environment, economies, and people of different cultures. Upon completion of this Activity Guide, students are prompted to open Investigate The Science.
challenges students to integrate the place-based knowledge they’ve gained with scientific climate change research. Students will investigate the implications of current and predicted climate change trends on the sustainability of the unit’s key species. They will be challenged to consider what these changes could mean in the larger environmental and cultural contexts (i.e.) warmer winters cause poor maple syrup production meaning less amounts of maple syrup nationally and reduced profits for maple businesses. 

Using the Investigate the Science Activity Guide, students will create their own hypothesis of how climate change is impacting the environment, people, and cultures, based on the place-based and scientific climate change evidence they’ve studied. This section offers a menu of experiments and investigations to help students design and conduct a research project to test their hypothesis. The Climate Science Toolkit provides interactive climate model maps and research from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts to support their investigations. 

After completing this Activity Guide, students are ready to act on the knowledge they gained by proceeding to the “What Can We Do?” section.
provides a template for students to develop service learning projects to apply the knowledge they have gained to address climate change on a community level. Students are encouraged to reflect and share their project results with others using the Talking Circle blog feature of the G-WOW website.

provides students an opportunity to reflect on and share their service learning project results with other students through a supervised web blog. 

The following supporting resources can be accessed by clicking on the icons within the G-WOW logo: