Story last updated at 8:54 PM on Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Global warming subject of newly developed curriculum

By McKibben Jackinsky

With decades of teaching experience and a long-standing involvement in science, Homer couple DeWaine and Jane Tollefsrud have joined forces to create "Global Fever," a curriculum for studying climate change. With attention-getting colors, it includes a teacher's manual, student workbook and CD-Rom. A Web site offers additional information, with links to more resources and up-to-date information.

"A few years ago I worked with a team of folks bringing a climate change seminar here," Jane Tollefsrud said. "It combined scientists and Native traditional knowledge. That's when I got the whole idea of what's going on big time with climate change in the world. We felt we had to do something positive and this is how we could best help."


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

DeWaine and Jane Tollefsrud

DeWaine Tollefsrud agreed.

"You can't get hopeless. You have to do something. You have to channel that feeling of panic into something positive," he said.

Dividing the project into their individual areas of expertise, the Tollefsruds have combined two years of research with graphics, photography and an easy-to-follow layout.

"We wanted something hopeful, inspirational, fun, not scary," Jane Tollefsrud said of the course content arranged for students 9 years old through the seventh grade. "It's geared for when kids first start to be able to think at a little higher level. The fourth grade is when you start abstract thinking, looking at the big picture. For climate change, you have to look at the bigger picture."

Divided into nine areas global geography, populated planet, human effects, rising temperatures, climate changes, animals in danger, survival strategies, global concerns and eco warriors the program could easily be adapted to fit a school year calendar. It also has been designed with an eye toward the national science standards, as outlined in the teacher manual.

Each unit in the teacher manual includes a sample student sheet, an explanation of the subject, a glossary of terms, answers for the student sheets, Web links, a lesson plan, some "hot facts" did you know the largest land animal in Antarctica is a fly? and more information for exploring the subject.

Also included are "data dates" which date-stamp time-sensitive information, such as the population for key cities around the world in the section on rising temperatures.

Want to include other areas of study while addressing science? Check the suggested math challenges. For instance, with the average American household wasting nine gallons of fresh water per day, how much water could be saved in a year if all 71.8 million American households turned off their water while brushing? Language arts also can be addressed by focusing on accurate, succinct language to summarize theories or conclusions.

An "action plan" gives suggestions for students wanting to become involved in the topic outside the classroom. Animals in danger? Consider reducing beef consumption or buying food from a local farmer's market.

"I think it's so self-explanatory that I don't know one teacher that couldn't take this and make it work," Jane Tollefsrud said, having tested some of the ideas as a substitute teacher in local schools. In addition, the curriculum has been reviewed by the couple's network of educators spread across the country.

"Global Fever" is self-published through Moose Point Unlimited and is available online at The teacher's guide sells for $40, the CD-Rom for $30 or the combo for $55. Student workbooks cost $5 each.

The curriculum has been endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation, which will ring a bell with anyone familiar with Ranger Rick.

"That's fabulous," Jane Tollefsrud said of the endorsement.

A link on the NWF Web site can be found at

"The program is everything we hoped for," Jane Tollefsrud said. "And it goes on. ... It's a living, breathing challenge."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at