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A Loonie For Your Thoughts

Learning About Nova Scotia Lakes and Loons

Secondary, Elementary, Middle

Description

This classroom resource explores the dependence of living things on their surrounding environment and the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems. Students learn about the different life requirements of the Common Loon and are introduced to the importance of a “sustainable’ ecosystem, with particular emphasis on habitat preservation and diversity.

The lessons explore general bird biology, the factors that threaten aquatic systems, and ways to reduce human impacts on lakes and loons. Appendices include Bird Studies Canada surveys and information on the major causes of mortality of loons. These include the emergence of botulism that is carried by zebra mussels and Gobi fish invasives, mercury pollution and disturbances associated with watercraft.

A short description of each lesson follows:

Lesson One: Loon Biology (2 X 60min)

Students view a series of slides on the Common Loon that include information on taxonomy, body structures, habitat and special adaptations for swimming, diving and flight, diet, reproduction and avoiding predators. Students in groups are given additional interesting facts and asked to explain foot waggles, red eyes, preening habits, lifespans, egg production and diet. A class discussion follows.

Lesson Two: Conservation (2 X 60min)

Students watch a Power Point presentation on the top threats that the Common Loon faces in Atlantic Canada, including shoreline development, dam construction, recreational boating, fishing nets and traps, lead poisoning, acid rain and garbage pollution. Groups of students are given fact sheets, visuals and props about the above threats and asked to present these to the class as part of a jigsaw activity. A final group discussion addresses conservation measures that can offset the harmful impacts described, along with ways to conserve loon populations.  Students are encouraged to take action.

Lesson Three: Legends (2X 60min)

Two First Nations legends are shared with the class about loons. Using these exemplars, students are then asked to write their own loon legends that will be shared with the class.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Working cooperatively with group members
  • Responding and reflecting on written and media text
  • Engaging in and responding to oral presentations
  • Creative writing strategies
  • Identifying and suggesting solutions for local and global environmental problems

Strengths

  • Resource is interesting, easy to use and the information remains up to date
  • The purpose of each lesson is clearly stated
  • Resource is written in student-friendly language
  • Answers are provided for discussion questions, fun fact explanations and the final quiz
  • Encourages stewardship 
  • Effective Power Point presentation in lesson one includes excellent media text
  • Includes examples of First Nations legends which emphasize the important role of wildlife in First Nations culture
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue
  • Creative writing is encouraged in the " Loon Legend" assignment
  • Promotes student awareness

Weaknesses

  • No authentic action plan
  • No hands-on learning opportunity
  • Needs more assessment support
  • Students need more opportunities to clarify and express their values

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used in early middle level science classes to meet outcomes addressing biodiversity, loss of habitat and the importance of protecting ecosytems. It could also be used in social studies and geography classes to emphasize the impact of human activity on environmental sustainabilty, and in language arts classes to give relevance to creative writing.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 5
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      • Science
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        • Wetland Ecosystems
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        • Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories: Physical Geography of Canada
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        • Evidence and Investigation
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        • Accounting 11: Accounting Concepts
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  • Nova Scotia
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        • People and Environments: Political and Physical Regions of Canada
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        • Science 6: Life Science: Diversity of Living Things
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
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        • Canada – From Colony to Country: Human & Physical Environment
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      • Science
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        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Ecosystems

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (5)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
    • Wildlife Protection
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Habitat Restoration

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

This resource aims to increase knowledge about the plight of the Common Loon as a means to encourage students to identify and find solutions for environmental problems. Students gather facts and information to draw their  own conclusions

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:

Satisfactory- absence of bias towards any one point of view

Good- students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed

Very good- based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

The resource emphasizes the link between human activity, habitat loss, long term ecosystem sustainabilty and the loss of diversity. Opportunities exist for teachers to incorporate other dimensions.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  •  Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

The approach promotes dialogue and discussion within groups of students that will raise the complexities of the issue.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Values Education Satisfactory
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

There is no authentic action plan.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  •  Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Action Skills Satisfactory

Although not specifically taught, after activities and discussions students may be motivated to act in some way.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Although there is no out-of-doors experience, planet stewardship is promoted.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  •  Satisfactory:   connection is made to the natural world
  • Good:  fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good:  fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

This resource has great local focus for students in communities who have a local loon population. It also encourages all students to be more aware of the importance of protecting aquatic and shoreline ecosystems in their own areas.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Present day situations are evaluated and students are asked to play a role in implementing solutions in the future.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

Students are able to discover some answers on their own through a  guided-inquiry approach.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Although primarily a science resource, there are opportunities for addressing outcomes in language arts, geography, and social studies.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  •  Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  •  Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

There are no accommodations suggested for students with learning difficulties but approprate groupings should address these issues. The resource teaches to both cognitive and affective domains.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  •  Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Poor/Not considered

There are no "hands-on' learning opportunities.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made concrete.  ‘Working with real objects,  using real sources of information
  • Good: learning takes place in a real-world context. Simulation, mentorship
  • Very good: learning provides experience beyond the classroom.  Addressing real world issues and problems 
Cooperative Learning Good

This resources includes a well-developed jigsaw activity.

Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Some assessment tools are provided- questions on readings and a knowledge-based quiz on the biology of the Common Loon. There are no rubrics suggested for evaluating the 'legend" writing assignment in lesson three.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

The appendices describe the results of scientific research and surveys involving the major causes of mortality of loons.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

The creative writing assignment in lesson three, allows students the opportunity to delve deeper into a chosen issue.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.