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Biodiversity, Food and Farming for a Healthy Planet

Elementary

Description

This resource provides a complete package for teachers to educate students about agriculture and how human activities have profound impacts on the ecosystems and biodiversity of our planet.

Each lesson is organized with an introductory description, curriculum links, a list of materials needed, vocabulary list, detailed teaching instructions, learning objectives, assessment/evaluation ideas and extension activities.

What is Biological Diversity? - Students brainstorm examples of food chains and participate in a food web discussion. They play a round of “musical chairs” using drawings of different parts of a food web. They learn how the extinction of species affects others in a food web.

What Does Biodiversity Have to Do With the Food We Eat? - Students keep a daily food log for three days and link the food they eat to biodiversity. They identify reasons why genetic and species diversity is important for agriculture and for people.

How Do Farmers Grow Food Around the World? – Students investigate the origin of different foods they eat and indicate the country on a map. They gather information on a type of food of their choice and present their findings to the class. They plant bean seeds according to different growing methods: organic, monoculture, etc. and compare the various growing methods.

Can Farming Affect Biodiversity? Students participate in a detective mission game in which they visit a farm and observe differences in ecosystems, plants and animals. They use simple observation techniques to collect biodiversity field data. They present their findings.

So What Do You Think? So How Do You Feel? Students create a diagram in which they express their personal reflection on agriculture and biodiversity and how it’s connected to things they care about. They present their posters to the class and brainstorm a list of action projects they can complete to teach others about biodiversity.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Creative and critical thinking skills by making learning relevant and real.

  • How to organize their knowledge into KWL charts.

  • Reflection skills

  • Creating graphic organizers

  • Classifying and organizing data.

Strengths

  • Each lesson in the resource clearly states its learning outcomes, description of the activity, materials needed, preparation and assessment options.
  • The resource is well organized and easy to use.
  • The resource allows teacher to meet curriculum expectations through highly engaging and environmentally-focused learning activities.
  • The resource contains detailed background information for the teacher and students.
  • The resource provides authentic learning experiences.
  • Wide range of learning styles incorporated into the lessons.
  • Links to resources on the web are provided.
  • Contact resources on the web for teacher support.
  • The activities are age-appropriate and can be adapted for other levels.

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Biodiversity
  • Food & Agriculture (3)

    • Conventional Farming
    • Local Food
    • Organic Farming

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • The self-discovery/investigative approach taken in this resource allows students to draw their own conclusions based on the information they gather in the classroom and outdoors. Students are not influenced to any particular point of view.
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 following dimensions of the issue are addressed:

  • Ecological
  • Health
  • Environmental
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
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good
  • The resource suggests action projects to tackle the issues and encourages students to come up with their own ideas to educate and inform others about biodiversity and food.
  • Suggestions include, writing a letter to their government representative and/or the Minister of Environment informing him or her about how they feel about biodiversity; growing a garden and having the community, peers or parents share in their learning. 
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
  • Students are given the opportunity to personally reflect on the relationship between biodiversity and agriculture and how it relates to things they care about.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
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
  • Hands-on planting activity
  • Field trip to a farm and surrounding area to observe how farming practices have affected the environment.
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 Very Good
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 Very 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
  • Brainstorming, questioning, discussion, research, and reflection activities are included in the lesson plans. Students are encouraged to find as many answers or solutions as possible.
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
  • Each lesson has a multi-disciplinary approach. Curriculum areas include social studies, science, biology, geography, environmental education, and health.
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
  • Excellent hands-on activites to discover and build knowledge independently.
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
  • Lessons provide a good variety of discussions, brainstorming activities, individual and cooperative assignments, field trips, and reflective and analytical opportunities. Suggestions for adaptations are included.
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 Very Good
  • An outdoor, hands-on activites is suggested - the visiting of a farm to see first hand how farming practices affect the environment and biodiversity.
  • Students investigate a variety of growing methods by testing them on fast growing plants.
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 Good
  • The resource suggests strategies to develop cooperative learning skills such as brainstorming, discussion activites and working in small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning.
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 Good
  • The resource provides suggestions for assessment and evaluation. Assessment sample rubrics are provided as well as opportunities for students to brainstorm criteria of good work techniques. Rubrics are suitable for self-assessment and peer feedback.
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 actively present their knowledge to peers, parents or the community by hosting a garden/greenhouse celebration. They share their learning through project or poster presentations.

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:

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
  • Extending the learning activities are suggested.
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.