Resources listed on this sub-page are meant to inspire hope that we can confront what seem like insurmountable problems. Links to resources are provided, but a sample of each resource is offered in my own hope that we will be inspired to explore each resource more fully.

After a particularly grueling documentary about climate crises, have your students ever asked, with a hint of helpless despair, "OK, but what can we do about it?"

The profile featured below offers inspiration to young organizers. It can be found in the pages of The Washington Post, in an article titled "12 kids who are changing their communities and our world." I have excerpted one of the youth activist biographies here; the other 11 appear in the Post's inspiring article.

Demetri Sedita, 16, Florida

Cause: Protecting Tampa Bay waterways

Each January, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival attracts crowds to Tampa, Florida. They line Seddon Channel to watch a pirate ship pretend to attack the city. They cheer and toss thousands of glittery bead necklaces.

Demetri Sedita knows the dark side of these festivities. Many beads wind up in the city’s waterways, where they’re eaten by marine animals or break down into tiny bits of toxic plastic that “work their way up the food chain,” said Demetri, a high school sophomore. They pose a threat to the area’s shorebirds, manatees, dolphins, stingrays, common fish such as sheepshead and “to all levels of the ecosystem.”

He and his 14-year-old brother, Ethan, founded Green Gasparilla in 2015 to try to stop the problem. They organize post-festival bead cleanups — with parents and friends using weighted hooks to snag the strands, or with volunteers in scuba gear. More critically, they work to keep beads from getting into the water to begin with.

The month before the parade, Demetri and Ethan do media interviews to spread the word that “tossing beads is simply littering,” Demetri said. For 2020, the boys also enlisted the help of Tampa’s mayor, Jane Castor, and appeared with her as she announced her Bead-Free Bay initiative.

“Our goal is to let the public know that future generations won’t be able to enjoy the waterways because of their reckless practices,” Demetri said.

He was frustrated to see that, despite his efforts, most people continued to throw beads this year. But he’s determined to figure out a way to make Green Gasparilla’s message and mission more effective.

Last August, Demetri was named a “youth ambassador” by the ocean conservation group, EarthEcho International. Speaking with adult mentors and activist peers has given him ideas for improvement. One is drafting sample anti-bead legislation to present to Tampa’s lawmakers.

Exploring with his underwater drone is a favorite activity — Demetri once spotted a Civil War shipwreck in the Hillsborough River. It’s also part of his advocacy strategy.

“When I showed the mayor underwater footage of all the beads, she was shocked,” he said.

If he can similarly shock his fellow Floridians, they might take bigger, better action in time for next year’s festival.

Lela Nargi in The Washington Post

Speaking of grueling documentaries about climate crises, Breaking Boundaries offers students not only a harrowing data-driven analysis but a list of practical actions we can undertake to retreat from the inevitable tipping points. Johan Rockström and Owen Gaffney's book is a challenging read for high-school students, but the film based on the book (and hosted by David Attenborough) is quite accessible.

Breaking Boundaries is currently available only on Netflix, but I’ve linked to a film preview to entice you toward further exploration.

In "The Importance of Teaching Tolerance: 9 Ways to Create an Inclusive Classroom," teacher and educational blogger Brianna Flavin offers us a concise checklist for evaluating how inclusive our own classrooms really are.

Project Zero's Thinking Routines Toolbox

Alas, a teacher can spend hours poring through texts and internet sites to find useful classroom thinking routines. If you're a fan of one-stop shopping, the Harvard University Graduate School of Education has assembled a worthy library of classroom thinking activities, all of which are presented in a concise and accessible format. Always grateful for good ideas, I can later (and shamelessly) bend and shape Project Zero's thinking routines to my own classroom purposes.