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Just a Dream - Stories to create awareness of the impacts of climate change on the Kiribati Islands

School: Downtown Denver Expeditionary School

City/State: Denver, CO

Grade(s): 4

Format(s): Video

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology

Project Overview

While the Kiribati Islands are located far from Denver, students learned that our actions are having dramatic impacts on the Kiribati Islands.

Through analysis of multiple scientific texts, guest speakers, videos, and classroom discussions students determined that industrial nations like ours are largely responsible for creating climate change. Students worked with a Denver-based non-profit organization, Kiribati Keepers to determine the best way to help the nation of Kiribati. They decided that raising awareness of the problems the nation was facing would be an extremely important step in order to recruit others to help them.

In an effort to raise awareness, students used Chris Van Allsburg’s story, Just a Dream, as a model for how to use fiction to send an important message to the reader. They wrote their own fiction stories that incorporated scientifically accurate facts about how climate change is impacting the Kiribati Islands.

Student work is also featured on the Kiribati Keeper website. Fourth-graders at the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School continue to use their work to both inspire and inform others about how to help the Kiribati Islands. Their work has also caught the attention of organizations such as Humans of Kiribati. 

Guiding Questions:

  • Why is climate change such a big deal?
  • Who is responsible for changing climate change?
  • How can we recruit others to become agents of (climate) change?

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Excellent model of student ownership of a social issue and compelling call to action
  • Great model of articulate reading and telling a story
  • Beautiful example of students perfecting their work for an authentic audience and responding to an environmental issue
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