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Students explore the concept of ecological footprint, calculate their own "footprint", consider what individual measures might reduce that footprint, and debate the merits of government regulation and technology in reducing our ecological impact.
A paper and pencil alternative to the footprint calculator can be found here.
The focus of the lesson is on analyzing one's ecological footprint. The result is a better understanding of the link between causes and consequences.
Analyzing one's ecological footprint is an effective way to introduce larger issues related to resource use, consumerism, carrying capacity, and sustainable development. It makes rather abstract issues concrete.
In allowing students to adjust their answers to the questions asked, the resource provides immediate feedback as to the consequences of changing one's choices, thereby encouraging more responsible choices.
The Solutions segment of the lesson plan allows students to investigate the issues raised by footprint activity and introduces possible actions that the student may encourage at the community level.
The lesson will support the teaching of courses in Geography, Social Studies, Environmental Science that have students
Math teachers may find it a rich resource for satisfying outcomes related to data analysis.
The lesson is perhaps best used as an introductory exercise that moves from the personal and concrete to the more universal and abstract in examining our impact on the planet and the need to adopt more sustainable practices.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
The lesson assumes that we cannot continue to exploit the planet's resources at the current rate - an assumption generally accepted. Using the ecological calculator provided, students measure their individual impact on the planet and discuss what changes they might make to reduce that impact. If we assume the viability of the calculator, students will emerge from the exercise having taken informed positions on a vital issue.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Very Good|
In measuring their footprint, students will recognize the environment consequences of their "lifestyle". This includes a variety of socio-economic factors - what they eat, the resources they consume in building and maintaining their homes, the trash they generate, the energy they consume in getting from A to B, etc.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The lesson helps student understand the implications of the choices they make - the consequences of which we often give little thought. It also asks that they consider other choices and the consequences that may follow.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Very Good|
The lesson asks students to consider the consequences of current and alternative choices in their daily lives. Armed with this information, the students are more likely to take actions that will reduce their ecological footprint to the benefit of the planet.
The lesson also includes a section - Move the Date Solutions- where students are asked to consider various solutions and suggestions are made as to how they may lobby for those solutions.
|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
|Values Education||Very Good|
The choices we make in our daily lives reflect the values we hold. If we are to "do the right thing" we must be aware of what is the right thing. Measuring one's ecological footprint helps students understand better what is the right thing.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Good|
In measuring one's ecological footprint and comparing it with others, students will come to an appreciation of the inequities in the world - particularly as they apply to people in the developed world and the developing world. This should result in a greater sense of empathy for those peoples who do not have the choices they have and how these people must live with the consequences of the choices the students make.
|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 adoption of a sense of stewardship is the underlying goal of the lesson. Students are helped to see the link between their decisions, their actions and the natural world. Recognition of the consequences of those decisions may be expected to result in informed action to the benefit of the natural world.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Very Good|
The focus of study is the student - the choices each student makes, the consequences of those choices, and the possibility of making other choices that reduce one's ecological footprint.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Good|
In taking the "footprint" test, the student learns of the current impact on the planet of their daily lives. In considering what changes they might make to reduce their demands on the planet, the student considers what the future may look like.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
The lesson asks students to consider the demands they make on the planet's resources, to compare their demands to others and to investigate how they might reduce that demand. In this sense the lesson does not provide students with an "answer" but with information that allows them to formulate their own answers.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
|Integrated Learning||Very Good|
Student examination of their ecological footprint requires that they consider the carrying capacity of the planet (Environmental Science), the economic forces that influence our consumption patterns (Economics), the management of natural resources (Geography), the inequities between the developing and developing world (Social Studies), the ethical implications of their choices ( Ethics and Citizenship)
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
|Inquiry Learning||Very Good|
Students are asked to consider a series of questions - what choices do you make with respect to the food you eat, the comforts of your home, how you get from one place to another?; what is the impact of those choices on the carrying capacity of the planet?; and what, if any, changes might you consider in order to reduce your ecological footprint?
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
The lesson is self -directed, allowing students to proceed at their own pace and the information presented makes good use of visuals.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The students are the agents of their own learning. They are investigating their roles as consumers of the world's resources, the consequences of their consumption for the planet and others, and what they might do as more responsible consumers.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
The lesson concludes with a class debate on issues of sustainability. This allows students to share and defend their perspective on the issues arising from their study.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Good|
The lesson plan is an exercise in self assessment. Students take the measure of their own "lifestyle", consider the responsibilities attached therein, and evaluate the merits of changes in their behaviour.
|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.|
In discussing the results of their ecological footprint study, students are asked to share ideas as to how they might make positive changes and empower others to make changes.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Very Good|
The student is the case being studied in this lesson.
|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 ecological footprint test is self administered. Once complete, the student is invited to look at different solutions outlined as part of the lesson and to take what action they might with respect to the larger community.
|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.|