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Circular Economy

Middle, Secondary

Description

What do we mean by circular economy? In this lesson, students will be comparing our waste system and economy to the circle of life. This lesson will help students understand that machine-made objects do not follow a circular process when disposing of them as waste.  

Students will be given cards with pictures of different natural objects and arrange them to show the circle of life. After completing the first task, they will then be given cards that show the process of machine-made objects to create a circle as well. Students will conclude that they do not follow the same procedure as mentioned above. They will learn that humans have adopted a linear waste system, with a start and an end.

Students will then learn about companies that participate in a circular economy. They will reflect on how companies can change their manufacturing to fit a circular economy. At the end of the lesson, students will write a project proposal and make a public service announcement video that explains their ideas on how companies can change to adopt a circular economy to help our environment.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The resource contains a circular economy infographic and video to accompany the lesson plan
  • Worksheets are provided
  • The resource is easy to understand and to use
  • The issue is current and relevant to the students

Weaknesses

  • Assessment tools must be developed by the teacher
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling students
  • Some student modifications are suggested 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

  • The resource is useful in introducing students to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Can be used as an excellent entry point for climate change education through a Language Arts writing piece.  
  • It would integrate itself well with science and social studies units dealing with environmental issues, habitat and climate change.
  • Geography teachers could use this to emphasize the link between human activity and issues with our natural environment.
  • More specifically, it can be used in those units of study (World/Global Issues and Economics)  

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Commitment to Action
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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (2)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This lesson plan allows different points of view in the beginning, but definitely has a point it wants to make.  In-class research and discussions allow students to be exposed to diverse opinions, but the end goal of the lesson is for students to realize the importance of a circular economy.

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

Some dimensions of problems are addressed, and students are asked to elaborate solutions.

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 Very Good

Students are given the opportunity to examine specific needs related to a circular economy and create a public service announcement video directed to the company on what a circular economy is and how the company can participate.

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

The activities give students the opportunity to reflect on their own values when looking at things they buy and dispose of.

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

Students are given the opportunity to examine specific needs in their own community and encouraged to develop and deliver action plans to help with climate change and our waste system.

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 Good

Students are asked to create an action plan which has a local focus. They also examine their own individual consumption.

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

Could include a follow up activity to see if students are still trying to make changes when looking at circular economy.

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

Students are encouraged to share their opinion and take a stand on issues.

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

From this lesson plan, one is able to easily cover elements of Geography, Science and Social Studies curriculum units.

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 Poor/Not considered

This lesson plan does not have a variety of differentiated instruction. It does suggest some modifications.

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

Students must place themselves in the shoes of a company in their community in order to create an action plan to help the environment and waste system.

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

Students work in teams and share their knowledge with other students. 

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

Work sheets are available and could be used as an evaluation piece during the activity and a final product is asked and can be used as an assessment.

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 work in groups and present their projects to other groups.

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

Students are provided with examples of well-known companies who have invested in a circular economy

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

Students choose what company they want to explore and must create their own solutions.  

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.