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Connections: The Basics of Biodiversity- Module 2

Elementary, Middle

Description

"Connections: The Basics of Biodiversity Module 2" is part of a larger resource entitled Backyard Biodiversity and Beyond. Module 2 is an interesting and engaging action project resource which contains messages and activities about the nature and value of biodiversity in British Columbia. The students have an opportunity to brainstorm, research, discuss and experiment with the motivating activities provided. The module contains an "Outcomes" chart to help identify the important Knowledge, Attitude and Process outcomes. "A Word to the Teacher" and background information to be used by both teacher and student, introduces the module. Both can be incorporated into a learning centre.

A detective biodiversity game engages the students in solving a mystery. Masters of an activity entitled Your Turn are provided to develop concepts from different subject areas and appeal to a variety of learning styles in creative ways thus integrating the core area subjects as well as art and creative writing. 

The entire publication of 32 activities is available for purchase at $22.00 and workshops are offered in BC and can be viewed on their website. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • use appropriate terminology
  • describe and use appropriate scientific equipment to study plant and animal biodiversity in the field.
  • collect, analyze and explain biodiversity data in their area and draw conclusions from their observations
  • work cooperatively

Strengths

  • The module is both teacher and student-friendly.
  • There are good ideas and good background information.
  • The activities are interesting and provide motivation for student learning, e.g. students are detectives solving a biodiversity mystery.
  • The equipment needed for the experiments is easily acquired and teacher preparation is minimal.
  • The module pages are informative and creatively documented with visual pictures along the sides of the pages.
  • Although the module has been republished in 1999, it can still be used and the information will not be out of date.
  • The website which features this resource has other resources available for the teacher.
  • Good value for the money.

Weaknesses

  • Minimal support offered to teachers unless the teacher takes the workshop which is offered on the web.
  • There seems to be a lack of modified lessons to incorporate and include diverse learners.

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Biodiversity
    • Interdependence
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (2)

    • Forests
    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • Solid explanations of the importance of preserving animal and human species. Explicit references and concepts for British Columbia only.
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
  • Mention of these considerations are made in the background information as well as in the small visual cues and drawings along with verbal references in the module.
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
  • Brainstorming, question and answer discussions, research and hands on experiments provide ample opportunities for problem-solving on various levels.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good
  • A great deal of learning and questioning, discussion and problem solving will make an impact on longer lasting attitudes which will affect positive change.
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 will demonstrate personal attitudes, values and behaviours which contribute to the preservation of biodiversity following participation in these activities.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

An activity called Genetic Diversity and Us in the module transfers the knowledge gained through the earlier activity to looking at characteristics and differences in humans by using a genetic wheel.

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
  • Very good, hands-on experiments and activities (i.e. getting down on the ground to examine all living things with magnifying glasses). Also, there are opportunities to look at soil samples for living things and setting up experiments using outdoor discoveries.
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
  • Hands on activities and transfer of knowledge to human species makes the learning relevant to the learners.
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
  • Good background information is provided; making reference to the past and present activities makes the experiences relevant to the learners and the extension activities provide opportunities to reinforce concepts for the future through creative thought.
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
  • Brainstorming, questioning and discovery, as well as cooperative learning activities leave room for open-ended discussion and learning.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
  • Although the experiments are science based, the background information and the research include storytelling, language arts activities such as creative writing, art (drawing and problem solving), mathematics in the experiments and social studies in the extension part of the module (expanding your thinking).
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
  • Questions, brainstorming, discussion, research and experimenting (hands on activities) provide good inquiry-based learning.  Where the students become diversity detectives students discover and build knowledge for themselves.  The experiment students conduct introduces them to the importance and diversity of soil organisms and helps them identify individual species by their unique characteristics.
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
  • No modification of lessons is available in the module to accommodate diverse learners.
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
  • The role playing of biodiversity detective and the amazing diversity down under experiment provides the students with authentic experiences and experiential learning.
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
  • Students work in groups but the skills are not explicitly taught and practiced
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
  • Recording sheets are provided; follow up activities include writing stories, drawing and artistic projects which also provide a mechanism for self-assessment and reflection.
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
  • Sharing of information and results of activities are encouraged at all stages of the module activity.
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
  • No real case studies are referred to but the background information and smaller diagrams on each page provide relevant information that are based on research.
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
  • The module is structured in such a way that it provides students with opportunities to do further research, expand their reading and comment through a variety of creative ways their findings. Through collecting, analyzing and explaining data, they also will draw their own conclusions from their observations.
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.