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Climate Change in the Garden: One Seed at a Time

Elementary, Middle

Description

This innovative resource explores climate change impacts on food production with a series of activities that build environmental stewardship skills.  As students examine how rising temperatures are impacting ecological factors like pollination cycles, they develop community partnerships to achieve conservation goals.  The integrated curriculum combines classroom and outdoor experiences to engage students as citizen scientists where they will:

  • Research climate change impacts on Arctic ecosystems and northern communities.
  • Plan a community-based “eco-meal”.
  • Create educational art work to promote sustainable gardening.
  • Develop a tree planting project.
  • Identify personal energy reduction goals.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Research.
  • Communication.
  • Presentation.
  • Developing community partnerships.
  • Planning environmental action projects.

Strengths

  • Strong emphasis on experiential learning.
  • Provides many opportunities for students to interact with their community.
  • Provides support for adult-youth partnerships that result in community action.
  • Uses a citizen science approach.

 

Weaknesses

  • Depends on easy access to local gardens which may be more difficult in some urban areas.
  • Does not include any formal evaluation strategies.

 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports curriculum outcomes related to plant growth, climate change and ecological sustainability.  Students become ambassadors for local green spaces and community gardens while reinforcing science process skills.  Communication with peers in the Arctic and interviews with local gardeners also develop an understanding of the close relationship between human culture and the environment.

 

There are many opportunities to extend the learning with student led community action projects that promote environmental responsibility.  Students could partner with a local supermarket to hang “food maps” that identify the environmental costs of purchasing imported products compared to local food.  As an advocacy lesson a class could write letters to local garden retailers asking them to stock more “green” products and provide customers with information about landscaping with native plants.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (2)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Local Food

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

A focus on open dialogue with various stakeholders provides the framework for comprehensive discussions about climate change impacts and strengthens informed conclusions.

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

Communication with peers in northern communities supports learning about the threat to the economic and social well being of indigenous people.  The class also explores sustainable practices that reduce energy consumption and increase resiliency in crop production.

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 able to connect local cause and effect relationships to global climate change concerns and develop an increased awareness of the collective role of individual citizenship in safeguarding our planet.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

This resource contains several action activities where students become invested in sustainable practices that benefit their community and the environment.  Projects include identifying strategies to mitigate climate induced change in gardens, promoting local food and planting trees.

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 learn that cumulative small changes can result in significant global change.  They formulate personal energy reduction goals which provides them with a feeling of ownership of conservation actions.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

A key strength of this resource is that students become part of a social community where they connect with people they might not ordinarily meet which leads to a broader awareness of diverse cultures. 

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 Satisfactory

Learning about growing food strengthens connections to nature and develops an appreciation for what the Earth provides.

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

Interviews with neighbourhood gardeners and the exploration of green spaces furthers understanding of the relationship between global temperature trends and impacts on a local level.

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

Students speak with local gardeners to learn more about changes over time and use this information to develop strategies that encourage a positive vision 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 Very Good

Activities like “designing your own plant superhero” promote creativity while engaging students in thoughtful and inclusive discussions about how they can help their communitiy mitigate the effects of climate change.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Reasoning and discovery combined with the plant growth and climate change content strengthen science skills while students apply Social Studies concepts to learning more about their community.  Visual Arts outcomes are explored in the creation of artwork that portrays local climate change concerns while the letter writing activity supports English Language Arts curriculum.

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

All the activities stimulate curiosity by providing a structure that actively engages students in posing questions and discovering answers.

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 wide variety of instructional styles within the lessons will appeal to all learners and the hands-on content with a teamwork approach ensures that struggling students can become active participants in the learning process.

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

Students are active participants in the community as they interview senior gardeners, assess how climate change has impacted the local natural environment and promote sustainable energy consumption.

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 where they collectively decide on each member’s role in data collection, evaluation and planning.

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

There are no prescribed assessment strategies included with this resource, but a series of open-ended questions at the end of each lesson provide opportunities for formative assessment of student understanding.

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

There are many opportunities for teachers to involve a class in peer to peer teaching using this resource.  The tree planting project can include younger students who can learn about plant growth from their older associates.  Communication with Arctic youth provides a framework for peer to peer dialogue about customs and traditions in both regions, 

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 Very Good

This resource is an excellent example of youth involvement in solving regional environmental issues while learning key curriculum outcomes.  The focus on their own community means the content is relevant to their daily lives.

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

Throughout the various activities students are motivated to manage their own learning through self-evaluation and communication with peers.

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.