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An Educator's Guide to Marine Debris

Lessons 4-6

Middle

Description

This resource provides educators with a tool to help students become more informed on marine debris and encourage environmental stewardship. The lesson plans aim to create advocates for marine environments with the students it reaches. The lesson plans can be completed independently or in sequence in a middle years classroom.

  • Building a Watershed: Students build a model showing how water flows through a system and evaluate different management practices to see how they might reduce the amount of marine debris that enters the marine environment.
  • Designing an Experiment: Students will choose one research question, write a hypothesis and design an experiment while assessing one obstacle to their research to address the problem of marine debris.
  • Clean Up Clues: Students will work with marine debris clean up data from the Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Trash Index to compare three geographical regions and create a graph for totals in each category.  They will also write a paragraph to explain their graphs, make inferences and share it with their classmates.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The focus of this resource is on the development of awareness and the empowerment of the students to make a difference rather than skill acquisition.

Strengths

  • The activities are hands-on and engaging.
  • There is a good quantity of background information for the teacher.
  • The resource is easy to use.
  • The plastics problem is a current global issue.

Weaknesses

  • There is a lack of assessment tools and suggestions for struggling learners.
  • In Lesson #5, the students only complete the experiment they design as an extension activity.
  • The data from the Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Trash Index is based on American data.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

An Educator's Guide to Marine Debris is a great resource to empower students to take action in reducing the consumption of single use plastics by developing awareness.  It is a great stand alone resource for the Science classroom.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Linear relations can be identified and represented using expressions with variables and line graphs and can be used to form generalizations
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        • Data from circle graphs can be used to illustrate proportion and to compare and interpret.

Themes Addressed

  • Waste Management (2)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Source Reduction
  • Water (2)

    • Marine Environments
    • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
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 activities are well balanced and allow the students to explore the issue and have discussions with their classmates with regards to difficulties and realities of the plastics problem.

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 activities are designed in such a way that the students are encouraged to see the big picture of how plastics make their way to the oceans and what can be done to mitigate the problem.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

Each lesson ends with a discussion of how to improve the current situation with regards to marine debris by making lifestyle changes and taking the Plastics Pledge to reduce the consumption of plastics.

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 Very Good

This occurs as the students get ample opportunity to discuss and reflect with their peers regarding the issue.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus of this resource.

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 Satisfactory

The activities are all classroom based.

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 Satisfactory
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 Good
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 Very Good
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Very Good

This resource does a very good job of adding Numeracy within its lessons as well as writing. 

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
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 Good

This resource has hands-on activities that would appeal to a variety of learning styles.  Unfortunately, there are no strategies for struggling 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
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 Satisfactory
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

Each lesson ends with a section entitled "Evaluate/Wrap Up" but there are no tools or suggestions for evaluation.  The activity is more of a closing activity to the lesson.

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 Poor/Not considered

This is not the focus of this resource.

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 resource does allow for some student choice.

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.