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Amphibial Pursuits

FrogWatch Teachers’ Guide

Secondary, Middle

Description

 

Amphibial Pursuits is the teachers’ guide to Frogwatch- a program through which students learn to identify frogs by sound and contribute valuable scientific information to a national amphibian monitoring program.  This guide is a multi-disciplinary resource that explores the physiology and ecology of frogs and toads, examines the role of population biology in assessing threats to different species and illustrates how amphibians are used to measure the health of ecosystems.

The resource begins with an overview of frogs and toads followed by a detailed examination of three key topics related to their health and distribution:

  1. Natural factors-dispersal, carrying capacity, extinction.
  2. Human factors- invasive species, ecosystem change, species interactions.
  3. Food chains and pyramids- predator and prey, ecological niche, trophic level, biomass and taxonomy.

Student activities include constructing graphs, using graphing tools, role playing, researching, background information, preliminary discussion questions and suggestions for debriefing accompany the activities within each topic.

 

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The following skills are explicitly taught:

  1. Data analysis
  2. Graphing data
  3. Data comparison
  4. Data interpolation & extrapolation
  5. Communicate scientific data
  6. Data interpretation
  7. Sampling procedures
  8. Inquiry  
  9. Problem-solving 
  10. Decision-making abilities,
  11. Recording data
  12. Observation of data
  13. Identification of species
  14. Measuring of data

Strengths

  1. Offers an effective and interesting way to have students use math and science to help protect species. 
  2. There is excellent support information for the students and teachers. 
  3. The resource is easy to use.
  4. There are additional web links for for further research.

Weaknesses

  1. Includes web links that are out of date but are not necessary for completion of the project.
  2. There are no evaluations tools.
  3. Students are not allowed to design questions and choose elements of the activities.
  4. Simulated data is used instead of real data.
  5. Many of the action-orientated activities are provided as extensions.

 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

These lessons will be very useful for teachers looking to integrate science and math. 

The introduction will be very useful to students and/or teachers wanting to learn more about frogs.

What important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

Protection of keystone species is vital to the sustainability of ecosystems.

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Endangered Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

These units do a great job of covering population dynamics and the role of science in understanding human impacts on ecosystems.

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 ecological aspects are well covered. The social and economic viewpoints are touched upon.  For example, the benefits of Bullfrogs to society are examined from different point of view.

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 Very Good

The complexity of problems is well respected.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Good

Students have the opportunity to participate in the FrogWatch program.

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

The activities that teach effective action are either extensions or part of the appendix. They are not part of the main activity.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not part of the lesson plans.

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

This resource does a good job of encouraging appreciation for the value of frogs and toads.

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

 Participation in the FrogWatch  survey provides for locally-focused learning.

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

The resource does represent the frog population in the present and in the future but the past has been largely avoided.

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

Some questions are raised  have multiple/complex answers clearly represented.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

These lessons address science/biology and math outcomes.

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

Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & opportunities to make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.

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.

 

Values Education Satisfactory

Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values. There are some introductory questions and debriefing ideas that might allow some students  to reflect on how they feel.

Values Education:

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

Differentiated Instruction Good

Activities do address a range of learning styles/different intelligences.  There are no accommodations made for people with learning difficulties.

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

Although the experiences used in the lesson plans are engaging, they are restricted to simulations.

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

 

 

Students work in groups.

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 assessment tools provided for students or teachers.

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 might only occur through incidental teaching in group work or during the role play.

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

Case studies are used to represent real situations based on artificial data.

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

Students do not choose program contents.

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.