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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

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
    • Grade 6
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      • Science
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        • Evidence and Investigation
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Canada – From Colony to Country: Human & Physical Environment
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        • Accounting 11: Accounting Concepts
  • Manitoba
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        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • New Brunswick
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        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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  • Nova Scotia
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        • Diversity of LIfe
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        • Science 7: Interactions Within Ecosystems
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 4
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      • Social Studies
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        • People and Environments: Political and Physical Regions of Canada
    • Grade 6
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      • Geography
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        • Natural Resources around the World: Use and Sustainability
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        • Interactions in the Environment
  • Prince Edward Island
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        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
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        • Science 6: Life Science: Diversity of Living Things
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
  • Yukon Territory
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      • Social Studies
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        • Canada – From Colony to Country: Human & Physical Environment
    • Grade 6
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • 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
Bias Minimization 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

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
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:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

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 problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Poor/Not considered

There is no authentic action plan.

Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
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: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused 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: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
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.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Satisfactory

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

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Satisfactory
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Satisfactory
Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
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 learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Poor/Not considered

There are no "hands-on' learning opportunities.

Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
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 used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine 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.