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Engaging Students in Conservation; Protecting the Endangered Snow Leopard

Elementary, Middle, Secondary

Description

These five engaging lessons can stand alone or be used as a comprehensive unit to help students explore issues and topics related to snow leopards and conservation. Students will:

  • understand the pressures and the interconnectedness of these pressures that wildlife around the world face.
  • consider points of view of a variety of wildlife conservation and consumption stakeholders.
  • engage in a prescribed sevice-learning action project.

The five lessons consist of:

  • The Cat's Out of the Bag - (one class period) In groups students investigate the morphology, physical characteristics, and physical adaptations of four cat species. They then infer how these attributes contribute to the cat's survival.
  • Mountain Mixer - (one class period) Students participate in a role playing, systems thinking activity to understand the relationships among species in the snow leopard habitat before constructing a food web.
  • It Takes All Kinds of People - (two class periods) Students explore and adopt stakeholder positions. In that role, they participate in a town hall meeting in an effort to reach a concensus regarding snow leopard conservation plans that they propose and develop through alliances.
  • What's the Plan? - (two class periods) Students explore the emerging issues of human farming in snow leopard territory through a simulation activity, a creative sustainable solution activity, and  a dramatic interpretation or other visual presentation.
  • Taking Action - Students are led through the process of successfully carrying out a service-learning project of their choosing to raise money to donate to the Snow Leopard Trust or other conservation-minded nonprofit groups.

Planet earth videos referenced in the activiities are available on 'you tube'.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • How to carry out a service-learning action project.
  • How to build consensus.

Strengths

  • The unit is sequentially and logically arranged and very easy to use.
  • The lesson activities require active learning.  They're diverse, pedigogically sound, and interesting.
  • The individual lessons can stand alone.
  • The lessons have been piloted and reviewed.
  • The fifth lesson introduces students to planning for a succesful action experience.
  • Vocabulary growth plays a significant role throughout the lessons.
  • Many excellent extension ideas have been presented.
  • Solid background information is provided for the teacher.
  • All blackline masters are provided with the lessons.
  • Connecting with a specific species helps students to build empathy.

Weaknesses

  • The video suggested and integral to lesson one, may or may not be accessable to teachers.

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (4)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Endangered Species
    • Interdependence
    • Wildlife Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • Presents a conservation/preservation bias consistent with sustainable development.
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 Very Good
  • Students explore the perspectives of many stakeholders.
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 Very Good
  • Students explore diversity/food web issues and make connections to other endagered species.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good
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 Very Good
  • This is a highlight of the lesson package, but specifically in lessons three and four.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good
  • Notes provided to students regarding the stakeholders in lesson three, "It Takes All Kinds of People", are rational, rationalized, and respectful.
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
  • Every effort is made to connect students to Snow Leopards through their learning.
  • The activities do not require students to go out of doors to make a connection to nature.
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 Very Good
  • The learning topic has a global focus. Students draw local connections in all of the lessons.
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
  • While the present is the focus in four of the lessons, students are provided opportunity to make a positive impact on the future in lesson five.
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
  • The five lessons use different combinations of inquiry. 'Open-ended results' is an aspect of each lesson.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
  • The lessons are grounded in either science or social studies. Aspects of drama, math, language arts and technology come into play.
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 Good
  • All of the lessons include kinesthetic, visual and auditory components.
  • All of the lessons require aspects of co-creativity or group work for success.
  • Specific accomodations for people with learning difficulties are not suggested.
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
  • Each lesson varies in its authenticity of experience. Two lessons are dependent on simulation.
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
  • The activities carried out by groups are purposeful and they are assessed.
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
  • For the final action project lesson students develop a rubric to measure and plan for success with the teacher.
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 Very Good
  • Lesson three and four are designed to be reliant on the students sharing of information.
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
  • The case studies used are relavant and authentic but are not referenced.
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
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.