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Adaptations: Bee's Knees and Flower Power

Elementary, Middle

Description

This inquiry lesson explores the symbiotic relationship between bees and flowering plants.  A hands-on approach guides students through a scientific examination of flower structures and the process of pollination.  New discoveries are used to strengthen discussions about the important link between bees and food production.  An understanding of the connections between pollinating insects, healthy environments and sustainability is strengthened through a series of meaningful activities in which students will:

  • Study the relationship between bees and plants.
  • Dissect a flower and examine plant structures.
  • Observe bee morphology.
  • Apply new knowledge to develop an understanding of adaptation.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Hypothesizing
  • Observation
  • Scientific dissection and drawing
  • Reflection

Strengths

  • Includes a science based hands-on activity.
  • Strong emphasis on open-ended questioning.
  • Well organized with all handouts and materials readily available.
  • Excellent audio-visual materials.
  • Includes links to further bee teaching resources.

Weaknesses

  • The plant dissection worksheet does not include a rubric for assessment of the scientific drawing.
  • Does not include an outdoor component where students could observe bee behavior in a natural habitat.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports curriculum outcomes related to plant anatomy, entomology, symbiosis and interactions within ecosystems.  Although the activities are primarily science based the lesson can also be used to deepen student knowledge of issues like sustainable agriculture and global environmental concerns.

Over recent years there has been a heightened awareness of bee-friendly gardening through the planting of native flowers.  However, trees and shrubs are also very important to bees, particularly early and later in the season.  Students could develop an action project where bee friendly trees like red maple or mountain ash are planted on school grounds to provide bee habitat and shade areas for humans. 

A class could also organize a school showcase featuring all of the local foods that would not be available without bees.  This event could highlight “ugly” fruits and vegetables with a free organic "ugly" snack to demonstrate that choosing environmentally friendly fresh food does not have to be expensive.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 4
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      • Science
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        • Plant Growth and Changes
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
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        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their envionment
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        • Ecosystems

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Biodiversity
    • Habitat Loss
  • Food & Agriculture (2)

    • Organic Farming
    • Pesticides

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students are encouraged to think independently through open-ended questioning that supports collaborative dialogue about the results of their research. 

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

Students gain an understanding of the key role of bees in plant pollination which leads to the realization that without bees and other pollinators many wild and agricultural plants could not reproduce.  Declines could occur in highly nutritious foods crops like fruits and nuts which might contribute to a global food crisis.  Bee population losses are a complex issue but students do learn that reduced pesticide use can result from consumer demand for more sustainable food products.

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

Exploration with a hands-on activity supports evidence-based learning about bees and their vital role in pollination.  Students also become more aware of the connections between adaptations and physical structures in the natural world.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Although no specific action projects are included in the resource, there is a list of easily implemented “bee friendly” activities which support collaborative ventures like establishing an organic community garden.

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

An important aspect of developing a conservation ethic is the understanding of, and respect for nature.  As they learn how much of the food they eat everyday has resulted from insect pollination students are more likely to reflect on their own misconceptions about bees and recognize their value to human and ecosystem health.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Although not included in the lesson, a teacher could examine the social impacts of catastrophic food shortages to deepen student understanding of the link between healthy environments and human health.

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 plant dissection exercise fosters an appreciation of the complexities of nature.  Throughout the lesson bees are treated as peaceful, vital insects which strengthens respect for these creatures when students encounter them in the wild.

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

The decline is bee populations is discussed on a global scale but there are many opportunities to incorporate Canadian specific facts and figures through content like this Hinterland Who’s Who Fact sheet on Bumblebees, 

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

Students are asked to consider the impacts of declining bee populations on food production but the resource is limited in scope in terms of defining how pollinator habitat has been significantly reduced by urbanization.

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

An effective questioning process uses scaffolding to guide students through reflections on their learning to develop questions and answers for a “Hive of Reflection” wall display.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This resource has been developed to support science outcomes but the link between pollinators and food production should be used to promote student understanding of social issues related to sustainable agriculture and food scarcity.

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 Good

The flower dissection activity provides an opportunity for students to build upon prior learning and apply new knowledge to determine relationships between plant anatomy and insect morphology.

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

The dissection activity provides an authentic hands-on learning experience.  Depending on the time of year, the experiential feature of this lesson could be enhanced by taking students outside to observe bees in their natural habitat instead of the video supplied by the resource.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Poor/Not considered

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 Satisfactory

There are no formal assessment strategies but the reflection questions and answers provide a valuable formative assessment tool.

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

The small groups present their answers to their reflection questions to the class which facilitates peer to peer dialogue about their findings.

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 Good

This topic is extremely timely and relevant especially as concern increases about the seriousness of declining bee populations.  Students will also connect global issues and local action as they develop an awareness of the relationship between pollination and food.

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 Good

The open ended discussions empowers students to continue their investigations beyond this lesson.  They will be motivated to expand their understanding of bee social structure, food production and plant reproduction through additional hands-on activities.

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.