ELA Superheroes Podcast Grade Band: 9–12

Empowering Student Action with Speculative Environmental Fiction

Empowering Student Action with Speculative Environmental Fiction

Podcast Summary

This place-based, interdisciplinary high school climate justice speculative fiction writing unit asks students to bring in an imaginative lens to address environmental racism and the climate crisis. For this unit, August collaborates with a World History teacher to integrate various writing genres to help students civically and creatively engage with climate solutions.

Credits: these podcasts and snapshots were created by CAELI members, Tara Kajtaniak, Cheney Munson, and Peggy Harte. Thank you for all of your work and support on this project!

“How can I contribute to an overall environmentally just world?”

August Freas

Featured ELA Superhero

August Freas (they/them)

August Freas (they/them) teaches English at John O’Connell High School, an urban, multilingual public high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are a current high school English teacher and former outdoor educator. They live and work in the Bay Area, where they’ve resided since 2017. When they’re not teaching, they enjoy rock climbing, biking, playing soccer, writing poetry, and taking naps.



Teaching Snapshot

August’s student presents their research on the impact of highway pollution on urban communities

This teaching snapshot describes the unit discussed in the podcast in greater detail. Students begin by exploring local environmental justice issues that Activate or supply background knowledge (UDL Checkpoint 3.1). Next, they evaluate solutions to impacts of human activities (NGSS HS-ESS3-4) and write a letter to a government official or another community representative that includes data and case-study evidence to support claims about the best solutions. Finally, in their English class, they use specific narrative techniques (ELA W.9-10.3.B.) to create a narrative for characters to imagine a future where this problem no longer exists.