Joanna, MS, Environmental Science

Putting Sustainability Issues into Perspective

Interview with Joanna Forge't

In this interview Joanna describes how she uses Facing the Future's hands-on activities to teach and reinforce environmental concepts.

School: Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, South Easton, MA

Grade: 9-12      Classroom Size: ~15

Subject: Environmental Science and Studies

Classroom Challenges:

  • Classroom Management
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Large Group Activities
  • Small Group Activities
  • Special Needs/Inclusion

Click on a topic below to read more about Joanna's work:

Please describe your experience with Facing the Future materials and how you use them in your classroom:

"My experience with Facing the Future materials has been a positive one. The students really like the approach of hands-on activities to teach and reinforce environmental concepts. My students respond very positively to the activities and concepts that are reinforced throughout the lesson. One of their favorite activities is 'Shop Till You Drop?' [see Lesson 30 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. This particular activity really brings world environmental issues home for them in such a way that they understand the issues very clearly and how these issues relate to them now and how these issues will relate to them in the future. My advice to other educators would be to try to incorporate some of these activities into your lessons if you are able. The Facing the Future curriculum is fantastic and so very helpful. In fact, I would love to design a whole course around these materials!"

Joanna uses the following Facing the Future resources:

How do Facing the Future materials fit into your curriculum?

"The Facing the Future lesson fit into my curriculum by supplementing the main ideas introduced to the class. It can be used as an introduction or as a wrap up lesson as it incorporates hands-on activities for the students."

What standards were used or met when using Facing the Future materials?

"Standards that were used with the Facing the Future materials included the human influence on the world around us. Standards also included solutions about what we could do to solve some of these environmental issues."

Please describe the unit with which you have used Facing the Future materials:

"I have used the Facing the Future materials with wildlife units. In the wildlife units we focus on endangered, threatened and special concern species. This unit also explores habitat loss and the causes of habitat loss. The Facing the Future lessons tie in perfectly with my curriculum. I love the Facing the Future lesson 'The Cat’s Out of the Bag' and use that often with the wildlife unit [see Lesson 1 in Engaging Students in Conservation]."

What were your main objectives/goals for this unit?

"My main objectives for the lessons included having the students understand what is happening from an environmental perspective in the world today and what they can do to be a part of the solution."

How did the Facing the Future lessons help you meet these objectives/goals?

"The lesson helped to meet these goals by providing the students with a solid background of introductory information, a hands-on project for the students to express themselves and some great extension activities.

One of the biggest hits with the students is the hands-on 'Shop Till You Drop?' activity [see Lesson 30 in Engaging Students Through Global Issues]. This really seems to put things into perspective for students with respect to sustainability issues facing many other parts of the world. Students really like making their own choices for what they need and it surprises them to see that their classmates don’t always make the same choices as they do. After follow up group discussions, I allow the students to revisit their shopping choices and usually they make different choices and it also takes them longer to really think about what they would place as a priority need. This activity definitely opens up their eyes to the world and creates an amazing discussion on world issues and sustainability."

What skills did your students gain?

"Students gained skills in the areas of critical thinking and problem solving. Before the lesson, some students had not thought through the problem thoroughly enough. With the additional inquiry questions and by working with a group, students were able to see more of the bigger picture with the problem that was being discussed and thus expand their critical thinking skills."

How do Facing the Future resources help you address your classroom challenges?

"I modified activities to be simpler if need be or I made small group activities if I needed to.

  • Classroom Management
    If the students are really excited about the activity, one really has no problems to manage in the classroom as students really like what they are doing.
  • Differentiated Instruction
    It is possible to take the activity and tailor it to each students learning needs because there are many adaptations one can do with the activities.
    The material can be translated into other languages.
  • Large Classroom or Large Group Activities
    If one has a large group that works well together or even if they are working on working well together, the activity can help bridge that gap as the activities are very immersing to the students.
  • Small Classroom or Small Group Activities
    The activities can also be broken down to work in a smaller group setting if needed. The activities are so adaptable for large or small groups and that it one of the reasons it is so fantastic to an educator!
  • Special Needs/Inclusion
    The activities and lessons can be modified for an easier understanding of the material."

What parts of the unit engaged your students the most?

"The hands-on activities!"

What resources do you use to complement Facing the Future materials?

How did these resources complement each other?

"They complemented each other nicely by reinforcing concepts and materials from slightly different viewpoints but [were] still very complimentary."

Do Facing the Future materials help you be a better teacher? If so, how?

"They help me be a better teacher by providing resources and ideas in one place. This helps so much!"

What do you want to know more about?

"I would like to know more about engaging and reaching American children to care more about their world and sustainability."

How do you assess these lessons?

"Pre- and post-tests, student reflections and student projects"

What advice, if any, would you give to teachers using this lesson for the first time?

"Read the lesson over first, think about your students and design the lesson from there to best meet their needs as students."

Tell me about something that went well and something that did not go as well.

"The hands-on projects went well, something that didn’t always go so well was the 'Word Splash' [see Lesson 1 in Engaging Students in Conservation].

I think the word splash activities didn’t go as well as they could have because I started this before the lesson to gauge their starting knowledge of the issue at hand. I found out that some of their starting knowledge of the issues being discussed were not what I hoped it could be. I think I would do the word splash next time at the end of the activity. It is different with each new class however, so perhaps I will do the word splash as a part of a pre- and then as a post-assessment."

Do you plan to teach the lesson again? What would you do differently next time?

"Yes, I will teach the lesson again. I would review vocabulary more with some students so they would understand adaptations better."

Anything else you’d you like to share with other teachers looking to engage their students in global sustainability?

"It is so worthwhile to engage students on sustainability. It is their future!"

Learn more about Joanna's work


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We equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future through hands-on curricula and professional learning.

Facing the Future is an
independent program of WWU