Resources for Sustainability

Scroll down for resources including units of work, articles and essays from PETAA that relate to the cross curriculum priority Sustainability.

The language of climate change science

A Pre-school to Year 8 teaching and learning progression

The following open resource has been curated by PETAA Board directors Bronwyn Parkin and Julie Hayes as a precursor to a forthcoming PETAA publication and related professional learning on Teaching the Language of Climate Change Science, under development for 2021.

The threat posed by human induced climate change is real. If we are to act as a global community to respond to that threat and build a brighter future for our students — and future generations — the work begins in schools, as we teach our young people about the planet with a systematic emphasis on developing stewardship, responsibility and care for its environment.

Although climate change is not explicitly mentioned in the science curriculum descriptors until Year 10, a deep understanding of how our actions and use of Earth’s resources affect the environment and living things can be developed through all the science strands beginning in the early years.

In this teaching and learning progression, which spans from pre-school to Year 8, teachers will harness the potential of the science curriculum, and the sustainability cross-curriculum priority, to help their students design the future of the Earth. It will support teachers and students in gradually making the links between science and climate change at an appropriate level of understanding for each year level.

Created by educators, academics, and scientific experts, these language-focused and logical progressions will build a better world. By following these progressions, students will be able to talk, read and write scientifically about climate change and its causes and effects — and learn that they can be part of the solution.

The language of climate change science banner linked to download

The progression will:

  • Save teachers time by identifying the science that underpins the understanding of climate change and making the links between the two explicit for sharing with students
  • Fulfil many Australian curriculum requirements in Science, linked with aspects of the Sustainability cross-curriculum Priority
  • Explore ways that people can slow down human induced climate change so that the planet and all that is living on it survives and thrives
  • Develop respect for, and trust in, scientifically gathered evidence and the scientific community to provide reliable information
  • Set teachers on a path of long-term professional development as the second and third stages — including a reference text for teachers and professional learning courses — continue this journey towards a practice of consistent, evidence-based, climate-informed pedagogy
  • Allow leaders to create a transformative learning environment that over the years, develops students’ understanding of the science of climate change, as well as fostering positive attitudes, appreciation and respect for the natural world
  • Develop a community of informed, articulate, and active citizens, who recognise the Earth as their home, the interdependence of all living things, and who have the will and means to act in creating a sustainable future.


Australian Science Teachers Association logo

Image of Macquarie IslandA Year 5 unit of work from English for the Australian Curriculum:

Save One Island: Save them All

This free unit of work focuses on the hybrid text One Small Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch, to explore the impact of human factors on the environment of Macquarie Island.

Through an analysis of both literary and informational excerpts within this book, students will have the opportunity to craft texts that use persuasive writing techniques to address different social purposes for writing. Engaging with supplementary texts Cat on the Island (Gary Crew and Gillian Warden) and Tanglewood (Margaret Wild and Vivienne Goodman), students will identify the different organisational frameworks and language features appropriate to persuasive writing and identify when best to use literary devices for effect.

Students will take action by identifying a local environment that has experienced significant negative changes due to human actions, and presenting a case for saving or protecting it.

Explore this unit of work >

Image above:View over Macquarie Island beach, photo by M Murphy, public domain image, no copyright

Global Words units of work addressing sustainability

Also find free Creative Commons licensed units of work addressing Sustainability on the Global Words website, Taking care of Earth together (Years 3 and 4), Global footprints (Year 6) and Changing minds, changing behaviour (Year 7).

More units of work and other resources addressing Sustainability

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There are many more resources available to members — if you’re not a member:

Reading the landscape

Posted on 3/1/2013
An English for the Australian Curriculum unit with a theme of investigating the geographical world.

Global footprints

Posted on 3/1/2013
A Global Words unit of work to explore concepts around living sustainably, using a range of texts.

Save one island, save them all

Posted on 3/1/2013
An English for the Australian Curriculum unit on Macquarie Island and the text One Small Island.

Investigating eggs in stories and science

Posted on 3/1/2013
An English for the Australian Curriculum unit that links themes of family with study of life cycles.

Tales from the Inner City

Posted on 6/10/2019
In the teachers’ guide to the 2019 CBCA Short List: An Australian Curriculum: English based unit for Years 7 and 8 based on the book by Shaun Tan.

Nanberry: Black Brother White

Posted on 8/15/2012
In the teacher's guide to the 2012 CBCA shortlist: An Australian Curriculum: English based unit of work for Middle to Upper Primary featuring the focus text Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French.

Taking care of Earth together

Posted on 3/1/2013
This Global Words unit allows students to explore issues that related to our shared responsibility.