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Secondary, Middle

Description

This resource challenges students to think about the effects of a warming climate on sea ice and sea levels in the Arctic. It emphasizes how climate patterns cause physical changes in the environment and how these physical changes can effect  the conditions necessary for life.

After brainstorming words associated with “the arctic” students view a presentation that features a Native Alaskan talking about the importance of ice to his life and culture. They then watch and discuss a slide show of arctic images and carry out an online search for newspaper  articles on melting sea ice.

A math-based lesson asks students to graph data on sea ice over time. They also complete an experiment to simulate the melting of sea ice and assemble a flip book of images of changing sea ice over time. Finally students complete an experiential activity that demonstrates how the thermal expansion of sea water contributes to a rise in sea levels.

An extension activity includes a video describing the black guillemot, an ice-dependent, arctic-nesting sea bird, whose changing habitat has resulted in dwindling populations. 

Students reflect on the concept that physical changes in climate and ice affect specific animals, their habitat, and their ecological relationships.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Analyzing and interpreting trends in data
  • Using tools and apparatus to conduct investigations
  • Displaying data
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Using a variety of sources to gather information
  • Responding and reflecting on written and media text
  • Working with group members to complete tasks

Strengths

  • Important topic which uses real-life data, and promotes awareness
  • Videos and slide show are informative and help to build empathy and help students form beliefs and attitudes
  • Indigenous perspectives on the consequences of disappearing sea ice and the effects on their culture are included
  • Includes opportunities for experiential learning
  • Contains focus questions, open-ended discussion questions, and step by step lesson plans
  • Worksheets and prepared student handouts are easy to use
  • Demonstrates the complexity of environmental issues
  • Addresses math data management outcomes in an authentic context

Weaknesses

  • Action project is not developed
  • Assessment tool needs development

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used in middle level science classes to meet outcomes addressing ecosystems, loss of habitat, and the link between fossil fuels, climate patterns, and the changes in the physical environment.  Math teachers will appreciate the opportunity to practice data management outcomes in an authentic context.

Geography and social studies classes could use this package to study the relationship between human activity, negative environmental impacts, and the effect of these impacts on the sustainability of traditional societies. (specifically, in Northern communities)

As well, this would be a good math/science/geography cross-curricular enrichment package

Relevant Curriculum Units

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  • Alberta
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        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Core
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        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
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        • Linear relations can be represented in many connected ways to identify regularities and make generalizations
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        • Earth and Space Science: Heat Transfer in Natural Systems
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        • Interaction of Ecosystems
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        • Canadian Geography 1202: Natural and Human Systems
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        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • The Circumpolar World: Geography of the Circumpolar World
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        • Knowledge and Employability: Statistics and Probability
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        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Biological Diversity (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
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        • Math Preparation 10: Data Analysis
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        • Physical Patterns in a Changing World
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        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
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        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: Climate Change
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        • Water Systems on Earth
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        • Physical Science: Characteristics of Electricity
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        • Geography of Canada 421A: Methods of Geographic Inquiry
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        • Data Management and Probability
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        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • The Contemporary World: Environment
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        • Statistics and probability
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        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
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        • Canada and Its Pacific Neighbours and Northern Neighbours: Resources and Wealth
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        • Mathematics 8: Statistics and Probability
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        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth
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        • Math 9: Statistics and Probability
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        • Science 9: Physical Science: Characteristics of Electricity
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      • Geography
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        • Geography 10: Climate
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        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Yukon Territory
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        • Ecosystems
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        • Water Systems on Earth
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        • Statistics and Probability
      • Science
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        • Physical Science: Characteristics of Electricity
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        • Applied Math: Statistics and Probability
        • Essentials of Math: Statistics & Probability
      • Science
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        • Earth and Space Science: Energy Transfers in Natural Systems
        • Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students are exposed to indigenous perspectives in the video. They interpret and analyze real-life data and conduct an internet search for various news stories on the effect of climate change on sea ice. A number of perspectives are examined in these activities. 

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 links human activity (burning of fossil fuels) to the environmental consequences of global warming and it explores these effects on the culture of indigenous peoples and traditional societies.

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

The resource provides thought-provoking questions and activities that encourage discussion and promote empathy.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
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

Group discussions and open-ended questions provide opportunities for values clarification.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

The video of the Native Alaskan discussing cultural and livelihood impacts is very powerful. The slide show contains a series of visuals that also build empathy for the people of all Northern communities affected by melting sea ice.

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
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 Satisfactory

Students will relate global warming to their own energy and consumption choices. Students may be motivated to promote energy conservation and greener energy initiatives in their community.

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 Good

The graphing of real-life data and the background information give a good sense of the historical trends and the relationship between human activity and melting sea ice. Present day situations are discussed and students may be motivated to take a role to implement solutions.

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

Through open-ended questions, students are encouraged to consider, develop and share their own thoughts and opinions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This is primarily a science resource, but there are opportunities to address outcomes in social studies, math and geography.

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 Satisfactory

Student-led inquiry is present with brainstorming activities, the learning ladder, group investigations and discussions.

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 Satisfactory

A variety of instructional approaches are included- brainstorming, learning ladders, internet searches, experiential learning activities, creating a flip book and class discussions.

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

Two hands-on learning opportunities are provided which include simulations of how melting ice and thermal expansion increase sea levels.

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

Worksheets with discussion questions, some of which are open-ended are provided, but there are no rubrics suggested to evaluate student work or for peer or self evaluation. 

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 Good

The two videos offer very good case studies on the far-reaching effect of global warming on Northern communities.

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
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.