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Biodiversity is Best

Elementary, Middle

Description

This inquiry-based unit has students investigate how conserving and protecting our water supply impacts the   biodiversity and sustainability of ecosystems.

Using a series of brainstorming activities, videos, hands-on learning opportunities, an interactive website, games and a final research project/presentation, students assess the impact of human activity on both clean drinking water and biodiversity. They describe the interrelationships within species, among species and between species and the environment.  Specific attention is  paid to the effects of acid rain and invasive species in reducing biodiversity. Students also begin to classify different organisms based on common characteristics.

Each activity can serve as a stand alone lesson, or be combined with other lessons to provide a comprehensive unit on Biodiversity. Action projects are supported in the 'future opportunities' and 'extension' parts of the resource.

Activity One:  The Water Cycle

Students use graphic organizers to brainstorm water use and its impact on living things.  Topics include water pollution sources and where water comes from. Students explore websites and videos on the water cycle, ground water, and watersheds. They conduct a simulation of the water cycle and research local and global precipitation rates for comparison. After reading a book called “The Water Dance”, students paint different parts of the water cycle and display the whole process on the wall. They  research Aboriginal myths about water and compare them to current scientific facts.

Activity Two: Biodiversity Introduction

Students write their own definitions of “biodiversity” and post them on a board. They watch a Bill Nye  video  and complete questions regarding issues/concepts raised in the program. A class discussion ensues.

Activity Three: Classification Introduction

Using the signs with the terms, fungi, plant, insect and the five classes of vertebrates written on them, students, in groups, describe what they think each term means. They then decide which group/term would have the least number or most number of members. Using the Ecokids website, and guiding questions, students learn about biodiversity, the environment and the impacts of human activities.

Activity Four: Biodiversity Games

Three separate games are included to demonstrate how  the concepts of unity and diversity are addressed in biological classification.  As a wrap-up activity students write down questions they have about biodiversity in Canada.

Activity Five: Biodiversity Inquiries

Students complete a computer-based biodiversity inquiry. They select an ecosystem from a map of Canada and create a slideshow and/or 3-D project for presentation to the class. After learning about what invasive species are all about, students conduct research on specific invasives.

Activity Six: Final Wrap-Up Games

Wrap-up games are used to inspire students to make personal connections to what they have learned. An Aboriginal game reinforces concepts introduced about the water cycle and the impacts of acid rain. Another outdoor game demonstrates the transfer of energy in a lake ecosystem and compares a healthy habitat to one that has been impacted by invasive species.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Creative/critical thinking strategies
  • Following steps. and using apparatus to conduct investigations
  • Selecting and integrating information from various print and media sources
  • Working cooperatively with team members to develop and carry out a plan
  • Creating written and media text in a variety of forms
  • Inquiry and research skills

Strengths

  • Emphasizes teaching though student-led inquiry- brainstorming, research projects, group investigations, and first hand experimentation
  • Written for a Canadian audience
  • Excellent black line masters, some of which are linked to videos
  • Water Cycle videos are engaging and well presented
  • Students are encouraged to compare scientific facts with Aboriginal beliefs
  • Has hands-on learning opportunities
  • The "Predict, Observe, and Explain Model" is used to encourage scientific thought
  • Strong links to other resources
  • Project organizational questions provided
  • The inquiry research project allows students freedom and  flexibility in their learning, while fulfilling project expectations and meeting curriculum outcomes
  • Exit cards provided a method for students to reflect on where they are and where they need to go in their research
  • Active games provided out of doors learning experiences and a fun way to teach and emphasize key concepts
  • Each activity could act as a stand alone lesson
  • Encourages responsible citizenship, promotes awareness and emphasizes the interconnections of all living things
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue and incidental peer teaching

Weaknesses

  • Assessment tools need development
  • Authentic action is limited to extensions
  • Students need more opportunities to clarify and express their values
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling learners

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used effectively in science classes to explore habitat and biodiversity and the important role of water in their sustainability. It is also serves as a good introduction to the classification of living things and promotes an appreciation of the interdependence of all species in an ecosystem. It is also relevant to social studies and geography classes that explore the link between human activity and environmental and economic sustainability.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their envionment
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Ecosystems
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interaction of Ecosystems
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Systems: Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 6: Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Systems: Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 6: Life Science: Diversity of Living Things
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Diversity of Life
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Ecosystems
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applications of SS

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Acid Rain
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecosystems (4)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Interdependence
    • Invasive Species
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Water (1)

    • Water Cycle

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students take part in a number of activities, which include brain-storming, reflection on videos, experimentation, active educational games, and a major research project. The teacher acts as a facilitator, prompting and guiding reflection, analysis, and experimentation. 

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

A major theme of the resource is the important role that water plays in sustaining biodiversity in global ecosystems. The environmental impacts of human activity affect the quality and availability of clean water, and have other negative consequences on these ecosystems moving forward.

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 Satisfactory

Although not examining all aspects of the issue, it will promote dialogue within groups of students. The focus is on inquiry-based learning.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Action opportunities are encouraged and suggested in the future opportunities segment of this resource.

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 Satisfactory

The resource  encourages students to do some self-reflection, but there needs to be more opportunities for students to express and clarify their own values and role in sustaining biodiversity.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
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 Very Good

Planet stewardship is a focus of this resource, especially in working to sustain water resources and ecosystems. The educational games are also played out-of-doors, as well as the ground water/ precipitation rate activity.

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

Students study biodiversity in a Canadian context, research local precipitation rates, and learn about Aboriginal water myths of Canadian Indigenous people.

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

Present day situations are described in the videos, and on the ecokids website. The games simulate the relationships between species, and their habitats.  Students are asked to be part of the solution in the future.

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 Satisfactory

Students are encouraged to come up with their own conclusions, The resource aims to enhance curiosity via inquiry-based hands-on learning opportunities.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Although primarily a science resource, there are opportunities to address outcomes in social studies, geography, language arts, and art.

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

Many varied activities are used which include videos, simulations, experimentation, brainstorming, active games, and an inquiry project. There are no strategies provided for learners with 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 Good

There are hands-on learning opportunities associated with the water cycle. The simulation of the water cycle helps make learning concrete.

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

Tools include questions on black line masters related to the videos, reflection sheets on the water cycle activity, KWL tasks, and exit cards for self-assessment for the research project. Although learning goals and success criteria are given, there are no true rubrics to assess student work.

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 Satisfactory

The Bill Nye video provides some real world examples of biodiversity, the interconnections between all living things, and the challenges in sustaining ecosystems in the future.

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 Very Good

The inquiry project allows students to head off in different directions in their learning and they choose the medium in which they wish to work. 

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.