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Exploring Biodiversity: A Guide For Educators Around the World

Elementary, Middle

Description

This teaching resource is designed to explore the ecological and social dimensions of biodiversity with students.  The resource introduces fascinating topics, raises challenging questions and guides students to explore, analyse, evaluate and discuss biodiversity issues from an informed position.

Students will:

  • create a word web based on vocabulary related to biodiversity.
  • create a "human web" to depict how members of an ecosystem are all connected.
  • complete an eco-regional survey
  • conduct a bio-blitz to determine what species live in their neighborhood.
  • answer questions related to personal values surrounding biodiversity.
  • create and perform skits relating to the services that ecosystems provide.
  • interview elders about species that used to exist in the local community, but no longer are as visible.
  • participate in an interactive movement activity that represents the connection between habitat fragmentation and habitat loss.
  • take part in a simulation activity designed to teach students about preserving resources for future generations.
  • create maps of local communities.
  • take part in action experiences related to biodiversity.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource explicitly teaches students:

  • interview skills.
  • the process for taking effective action.

Strengths

  • This resource is a comprehensive study of biodiversity for students, presented in an age-appropriate manner.
  • This resource is well laid out and easy to follow.
  • This resource effectively integrates the past, present and future and relies on the information of seniors within the community.
  • This resource encourages a personal affinity with the Earth and non-humans.
  • This resource includes an action experience as part of the core activities.
  • This resource effectively address the economic, social and environmental concerns relating to the issue of biodiversity.

Weaknesses

  • This resource does not fully exploit the opportunities for interdisciplinary learning.
  • Many of the activities are teacher directed.
  • Differentiated instruction methods are not explicitly explained. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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        • Alberta: The Land, Histories and Stories: Alberta: A Sense of the Land
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        • Wetland Ecosystems
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        • Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories: Physical Geography of Canada
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        • Canada and the World: Human and Physical Environment

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (2)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Ecosystems (7)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Bioregionalism
    • Endangered Species
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
    • Wildlife Protection
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Habitat Restoration

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • This resource presents many different points of view relating to biodiversity and invites students to share their own points of view.
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
  • This resource effectively addresses the environmental, social and economic issues related to biodiversity in an age appropriate manner.
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 complexity of the issues being addressed is respected.
  • Students are asked to reflect often on the interdependence that exists among species. 
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good
  • This resource includes action experience as an integral part of the unit and not solely as an extension activity.
  • There are opportunities for students to use the information that they have collected to develop their own action experiences. 
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
  • Students are encouraged to reflect on their own values related to biodiversity.
  • An entire lesson is dedicated to the clarification of values by students. 
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • Students work together in cooperative groups.
  • Students discuss the disparity among different groups of people within the world.
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
  • Students investigate the local ecosystems and the species that exist within it.
  • Students take part in activities out of doors.
  • Students address the impact of issues on non-humans.
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 explore and discuss their local ecosystems.
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 Very Good
  • Activities include opportunities to elicit information from seniors within the community.
  • Students discuss the impact of present day actions on the future.
  • Students interview local seniors
  • Students compare past and present physical characteristics of a community.
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
  • Although many of the activities are teacher directed, students are given opportunities to reach their own conclusions concerning biodiversity.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory
  • Opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and teaching are addressed but in some cases are not fully explored. 
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 Satisfactory
  • The varied teaching and learning opportunities will meet the needs of students with differing learning styles and capabilities.
  • Differentiated instruction methods are not explicitly addressed.
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
  • While this resource does include simulation activities, it also includes authentic learning opportunities. 
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 to complete activities.
  • Reference is made to specific cooperative learning strategies. 
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
  • This resource refers to various opportunities for assessment within the activities.
  • Rubrics and specific assessments are not included within this resource. 
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
  • Students are expected to share their knowledge with others, including community members.
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
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
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.