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Biosphere Biokit Activities

Urban and Nature Biokits

Elementary, Middle

Description

This teaching resource will allow teachers and students to explore Canada’s biodiversity in a fun and interactive way at any time of the year. The resource offers a series of engaging outdoor activities that help students learn about biodiversity and how to protect the environment. The resource encourages students to connect with nature by using their five senses and offers teachers and students the opportunity to explore their everyday surroundings from a different perspective. The suggested activities provide students with a better understanding of the relationships among species within an ecosystem and the dangers threatening biodiversity. Throughout this resource students are encouraged to think about simple actions they can take individually and collectively to protect nature and help make a difference.

Students will:

  • construct and play a game to provide them with a better understanding of the ecosystem concept
  • participate in a local outing to explore their area’s biodiversity.
  • participate in an activity and discussion on the impacts of biodiversity loss and how this can impact their lives.
  • evaluate the biodiversity of their neighbourhood using a diagnostic tool included in the Urban BioKit
  • unlock a few of nature’s mysteries using their five senses and some basic tools (magnifying glass, binoculars, camera, etc.) to evaluate the biodiversity of a nature spot they would like to explore.
  • take pictures of a variety of observed species during the outing
  • create a keepsake of the excursion by creating a drawing, story, poem, photo, collage, or other souvenir.  

The resource provides a few “Take Action” suggestions and a list of educational websites which suggest practical and doable ideas that students can undertake to promote Canada’s biodiversity.

 

Click to access Urban Biokit

Click to access Nature Biokit

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

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

  • Reflection skills

  • Classifying and organizing data.

Strengths

  • 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 some background information for the teacher and students.
  • The resource provides authentic learning experiences.
  • Links to resources on the web are provided.
  • The activities are age-appropriate and can be adapted for other levels.

Weaknesses

Recommendation of how and where to use it

  • Excellent hands-on activity resource which integrates itself well with science units dealing with habitats and plants.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecosystems (4)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence

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 directed 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 resource effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social issues related to biodiversity in an age-appropriate manner.
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
  • Students are invited to reflect on the interdependence that exists among species in order to understand the relationship between living things and the environment in which they live.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good
  • There are opportunities for students to use the information that they have collected to develop their own action experiences. 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.The urban and nature biokits have students evaluate the biodiversity of their neighbourhood using a diagnostic tool included in the BioKit.
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 Good
  • Students are given the opportunity to personally reflect on the relationship between biodiversity and their neighborhood or nearby park and how it relates to things they care about. Students will give a diagnosis of the section they explored and include suggestions to preserve and improve it.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in 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 Very Good
  • The biokits offer the students opportunities to get out and moving in nature or in the city- two ways of exploring Canada's biodiversity.
  • The different BioKits explore biodiversity in urban areas or the Canadian wilderness.

  • The outdoor activitites engage students in learning about the value of natural areas and biodiversity and empower them to help protect these areas.

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 participate in outdoor activities which take place in their neighborhood or nearby parks. These close to home experiences teach the students to appreciate the value of local natural areas and to empower them to help protect these areas.
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
  • By inviting the students to take the time to appreciate biodiversity and to better understand its importance, the biokits aim to raise awareness about the value of biodiversity, its beauty and the services it can provide. The activities encourage students to preserve nature by making informed, responsible choices for 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 Good
  • Students participate in a variety of indoor and outdoor field activities which allow them to acquire knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.  Questioning, observing, classifying, interpreting their observations and data 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 Good
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Environmental education
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 Very Good
  • Excellent hands-on activities to discover and build knowledge independently
  • Students use scientific inquiry skills such as questioning, observing, classifying and interpreting their data in order to develop a relationship with their environment and evaluate its biodiversity.
  • This hands-on activity helps the students to come up with their own ideas to educate and inform others about biodiversity. They will attempt to find age-appropriate solutions to the biodiversity problems.
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
  • The activities provide a good variety of discussion, brainstorming, individual and cooperative activities, field trips and reflective and analytical opportunities.
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 activity is suggested - the visiting of a neighborhood site or nearby park to see first hand how urban practices affect the environment and biodiversity.  Students use a variety of tools and techniques to gather information.
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 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 Satisfactory
  • The resource offers some reflection questions.
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
  • The resource does suggest students make decision-makers more aware by presenting them with their diagnosis of the natural area they explored. They include their suggestions for giving biodiversity a helping hand.
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 biokits were produced by the Biosphere team in Montreal and invite students to take the time to appreciate biodiversity and to better understand its importance.
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 Satisfactory
  • A section entitled One Step Further offers a few opportunities to extend the 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.