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Elementary, Middle

Description

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The lessons build sequentially and purposefully.
  • The resource utilizes interesting teaching methods.
  • The lesson connects habitat to food chains, and explains interdependence in an understandable manner.
  • All necessary handouts are included and ready for copying.
  • Supporting resources for student and teacher accompany the lesson.
  • The lessons are sequential and easy to use.

Weaknesses

  • A holistic view of the encroachment issue scenario is necessary. Students must understand that there are environmental standards to which builders must adhere, even if we may think those standards and laws should be more severe. We must always leave students feeling positive about the future.
  • The author uses food chains to illustrate energy transfer among species, which incorrectly show an end to the transfer process.
  • Students do not engage in a task that assesses their knowledge of the animals the others in their jig saw group shared with them, therefore diminishing the purpose of the sharing.

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

  • Students have limited knowledge of iconic species needs.
  • Energy transfer ends in a food chain.
  • Cause ends with an effect.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Sustainable Urbanization

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good
  • WWF clearly states their beliefs and mandate on their website.
  • Lesson two does not justly represent the values of all involved in the scenario.
Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory
  • The resource looks at the issue from an ethical 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 Satisfactory
  • The cause and effect lesson needs a solution-storming session attached to it. The scenario, without resolution, may leave students feeling helpless.
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Good
  • Authenticity, in the eyes of students, may depend on their location in Canada. It may be more meaningful to rural students who have access to freshwater habitat.
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 Very Good
  • Students are taught how to complete a cause and effect graphic organizer and how to present information in a brochure.
  • Other actions are identified as extension activities.
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • Different social groups are vaguely introduced to the lessons through the lesson two scenario. As a result, their values need to be fairly represented.
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 resource is intended to get students thinking about the needs of other species.
  • A field-trip is suggested but all lessons take place inside.
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
  • While beavers, moose and bears are well known to most Canadian students, many/most urban students will never have seen one in the wild.
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 Good
  • The comprehension of past and present ecological issues may depend on the research students complete on their own. The idea of the lesson is to prepare students to be wilderness/habitat stewards.
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 lessons utilize guided inquiry.
  • Students are required to research beyond the information provided to them. The provided action tips also encourage more student study.
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
  • The lessons have an ecological focus. It would be worthwhile to look into the values at play in the development scenario in lesson two to examine the broader scope of the issue.
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 Poor/Not considered
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
  • The resource leads students to WWF values. While this may ultimately be desirable, it does not necessarily help students develop the critical thinking skills necessary for them to become informed, media literate systems-thinkers of the future.
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
  • The instructional strategies used in the lessons allow students with varying strengths to be successful. That said, there is a heavy emphasis on reading and writing that will need to be adapted for some students.
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 Good
  • A field-trip to a local freshwater ecosystem is suggested so that students can conduct scientific investigations in the field.
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 Good
  • A shared learning process works up to the final task.
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 Very Good
  • The lesson sequence builds nicely from opportunities to formally and informally assess formative learning and formal summative assessments based on criteria that students help develop.
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 Good
  • Students share their learning throughout.
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 Very Good
  • The beaver, moose and bear are the presented species and are all Canadian icons. While they may not necessarily be the most commonly found species in all locales any more, their increasing rarity is relevant to the issues studied in the resource.
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 Good
  • The first three lessons are broad enough to accommodate some choice and group work.
  • The final task could easily be tweaked to allow students to choose how they will present their learning.
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.