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Access to Clean Water

Teaching Guide - Grade 2

Elementary

Description

In a country rich in renewable freshwater resources it seems incomprehensible that some Canadian citizens lack access to clean water.   Indigenous people have respected the connection between water and life for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the current reality is that many Canadian First Nations communities struggle with difficult living conditions caused by unsafe or inadequate water supplies.  In this innovative resource young children explore this topic through a series of activities in which they will:

  • Evaluate personal water use.
  • Identify and implement personal water conservation methods.
  • Explain the importance of freshwater to humans, plants and animals.
  • Construct a simple water filter.
  • Identify sources of water contamination.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • Well organized with all handouts and materials readily available.
  • Each lesson includes an activate, acquire and apply section to provide a comprehensive learning experience.
  • Encourages informed decision making.
  • Develops citizenship skills.
  • Includes some excellent links to further water teaching resources.

Weaknesses

  • The personal water use chart does not include numerical values to support a more rigorous comparison of liters of water used before and after conservation actions.
  • In the “Comparison to a Northern Community” activity the teacher is asked to connect to a First Nations reserve via Skype but no contact information has been included to assist with this process.
  • No differentiation strategies have been provided for the lessons requiring internet research.

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Acquiring and applying information from various media sources.
  • Planning and implementing science experiments.
  • Investigating a sustainability issue.
  • Evaluating other viewpoints and problem solving.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource builds citizenship skills in students by engaging them in an investigation of a current environmental issue with a process that supports informed conservation decisions.  Even at this young age a class could become involved in advocacy through simple actions like organizing a community water celebration that includes traditional indigenous dances and customs and promotes awareness of the value of water.

Scientific inquiry is used to build and analyze the effectiveness of a personal water filter.  It is important that students gain a holistic knowledge of where their daily water comes from.  A teacher could expand upon this investigation by including condensation experiments to deepen student awareness of the water cycle.  A field trip to the community reservoir and water treatment plant would further student understanding of the importance of conservation. 

Many First Nations communities are under a boil water advisory.  Using their personal water use figures students could combine math and science to evaluate the time and energy investments required to boil enough water to sustain their family for one day.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Human Rights (1)

    • Poverty
  • Indigenous Knowledge (2)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews
    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Water (3)

    • Water Quality
    • Water Treatment and Distribution
    • Water Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

In this country water is everywhere, thus the reality that some citizens are experiencing a water crisis offers a unique perspective to students.  They will gain more insight into the real impacts of environmental problems like pollution on northern communities while strengthening their awareness of the ecological values of Canada’s freshwater assets. 

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 Good

The collective social responsibility surrounding this issue is highlighted by comparing personal water use with similarly aged youth in a First Nations community.  The activities also provide many opportunities for discussions surrounding poverty and inequitable resource distribution.

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 Good

This resource uses an integrated approach to explore the ecological and human values of water,  the social costs of water scarcity and the role of citizenship in addressing environmental concerns.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Students explore strategies to assist indigenous communities with accessing clean water and implement definitive practices that reduce water consumption.

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
Values Education Good
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

In a wealthy country like Canada students will be surprised to discover that some citizens struggle with access to basic human rights.  As they research solutions they will also recognize that it is important that First Nations customs and beliefs should be honored and incorporated into assistance efforts.

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

The First Nations context means that there are many opportunities for a teacher to highlight the strong connections between all humans and the natural world.  A class could experience some of the traditional songs and stories that honor water.  A local First Nations community member could also take students on a walk to a local waterway to share ecological knowledge.

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 Good

Students determine their personal water use. The global issue of water resources is examined from the perspective of Canadian indigenous communities which ensures students are able to analyze and apply new information on a local level.

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

Building the simple water filter could be the impetus to an enhanced science investigation where students learn about current and future technologies such as evolving personal water purification devices like Life Straw. 

In the live interview with a northern community students have an opportunity to hear the oral storytelling tradition of passing on knowledge.

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 Good

The activities in this resource have been developed to foster critical thinking about environmental issues.   Students are able to analyze and build upon new learning to make multiple conclusions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

All of the activities contain a strong science and social studies component that link sustainability issues with social justice.

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

This learning unit develops creativity and problem solving skills through a science inquiry process where students build a personal water filter.  Students are also able to examine and describe consequences of a clean water shortage through an approach that supports originality in defining personal conservation goals.

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 Poor/Not considered

There are no specific strategies for differentiation however there is a hands-on component to the lessons that will appeal to a variety of learners.

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 Satisfactory

One way in which a teacher could strengthen the experiential aspect of this resource could involve the class in spending a school day experiencing some of the issues that result from reduced water availability.  Options such as carrying water from another source to fill water bottles rather than using the water fountain or depending on hand sanitizer instead of  hand washing would certainly highlight how much we take water for granted

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 Satisfactory

Lessons are generally done as a whole class or small group 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 Poor/Not considered

There are no defined assessment strategies but provided worksheets could support formative assessment.

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

During the Skype interview there is an opportunity for students to learn how reduced water availability impacts on the lives of  younger members of a First Nations community by listening to their personal experiences.

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

This topic is a timely and relevant environmental issue currently facing members of Canada’s indigenous communities.

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 Poor/Not considered

In the second lesson, "Comparison to a Northern Community" the class generates a list of questions to ask during a Skype interview.  These questions are student led and based on an examination of all of the ways that water is used at school and home.

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.