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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

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 Includes web links that are out of date but are not necessary for completion of the project.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
Bias Minimization Good

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

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

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 Very Good

The complexity of problems is well respected.

Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Good

Students have the opportunity to participate in the FrogWatch program.

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

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: 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 Good

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

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

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.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Good

These lessons address science/biology and math outcomes.

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 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.

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

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 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 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 learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

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

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 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 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 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.