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Get A Grip on Biodiversity

Secondary, Elementary, Middle

Description

This classroom resource is the first of a four-unit series designed to raise student awareness of the problems associated with non-native, invasive species. The unit uses stories, art, word games and science activities to illustrate the importance of biodiversity. It also asks students to look at the beauty of nature, the interdependence among species in an ecosystem, and the importance of making sound resource management decisions.

Each lesson can serve as a stand alone activity or can be combined with other lessons to provide a comprehensive study of biodiversity. A short summary of each lesson is found below.

The Salamander Room: (2 x 60 min.)

This lesson, suitable for early elementary students introduces the concept of habitat and the basic needs that characterize all organisms in nature. With the help of the book "The Salamander Room" and various props, students  turn a classroom into a salamander’s paradise and find out that animals need diverse places to survive. Extension activities include acting out the book as a class play, taking an outdoor hike to find habitats of various species and making a salamander craft.

 Web of Life (1 X60min)

This lesson suitable for middle level and early high school, has students describe aquatic food webs, identify connections between plants and animals, and investigate how non-native invasive species impact these  vital relationships.

In the core activity, students simulate plants and animals in an aquatic habitat. Sitting in a circle they connect themselves to each other to represent the ways species  depend on each other. In this way, they create a visual web of life. They then repeat this activity after introducing an invasive species. The class then creates a web of life mural for their classroom.

Extension activities include a habitat simulation game and an outdoor version of the 'web of life' simulation

Freeze Frame (1 X 60min)

This lesson is suitable of all grade levels.  Students use picture mats to frame their favorite plants or scenes from local a trail or natural area. The class then tours “Nature's Art Gallery” and each student explains why they chose to “freeze frame” that particular scene.

Extension activities include visiting an area that invasive species have overtaken and comparing the effects on diversity in their “art”.

There a Hair in My Dirt (2 X 60min)

This lesson, suitable for high school students, emphasizes how our perceptions of nature often influence how we care for it and that there is a difference between loving nature and understanding it.  After reading Gary Larson’s book, “There’s a Hair in My Dirt”, students discuss how our different views of nature influence resource management decisions. They then discuss the introduction of some invasive species in different areas by people who had emotional attachments to them and how these personal decisions have brought about unforeseen and unintended environmental consequences.

As an extension activity students are asked to find or draw ecologically-based cartoons.

 Jargon Un-plugged  (1X60 min)

In this lesson that is best suited for Grade 5 and up, students play a word game which helps them to become more familiar with the terminology used to talk about invasive species. After the game, students are asked to create a crossword puzzle, and write a story or play using some new vocabulary.

An invasive species logic problem is included as an extension activity.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Creative thinking skills
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Working cooperatively with group members
  • Responding and reflecting to 'art" in nature
  • Speaking and communicating thoughts and ideas

Strengths

  • Good out of doors experience
  • The resource offers a wide range of activities
  • Lessons are well organized and include objectives, prep-time, activity time, materials needed, and grade level
  • Students will enjoy the games and simulation activities
  • The resource encourages creativity and individual expression
  • Has a multi-disciplinary approach
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue and incidental peer teaching
  • It promotes community awareness

Weaknesses

  • For some of the activities teachers will need to spend time collecting essential materials
  • No authentic action plan
  • No case studies
  • Limited background material provided for teachers or students

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used in science classes to explore habitat and biodiversity, to nurture an appreciation of the natural world and to promote an appreciation of the interdependence of all species in an ecosystem. It is also relevant to geography classes that explore the link between human activity, the environmental and economic sustainability.

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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        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Commitment to Action
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        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • Biology 521A: Biodiversity
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        • Environmental Science 621A: Ecological Principles
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
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        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
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        • Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (5)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
    • Invasive Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

This resource promotes the importance of biodiversity, of protecting habitat, and of appreciating the natural world. The resource emphasizes the negative impacts that non-native invasive species have on ecosystems. Any benefits of non-native species are not addressed.

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 Satisfactory

The intoduction of non-native invasive species through human activity is linked to environmental and economic sustainability.

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 Satisfactory

Although not examining all aspects of the issue, the resource will provide opportunities to do so by promoting discussion and dialogue within groups of students.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

There are no authentic 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 Satisfactory
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
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
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 the outdoors in their own community.

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

Students are exposed to present day situations through various activities. Students may be motivated to to play a role in implementing solutions to prevent the spread of invasive species in 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 Satisfactory

Students are encouraged to think for themselves and develop/express their own opinions. There are opportunities to link to their own experience and activities encourage student interaction and participation.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

This is primarily a science resource, but there are opportunities to address outcomes in language arts, art, and geography.

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 Satisfactory
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

A variety of teaching methods are used which teach to both the cogntive and affective domains. There are no accommodations or modifications suggested for struggling 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 Satisfactory
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
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 Poor/Not considered

Assessment ideas are suggested, by it is up to the teacher to design their own assessment tools.

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
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 Poor/Not considered
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

Students are given opportunities to respond and reflect on what they discover. The assessment suggestions are broad and allow students to go deeper into an issue of their choice.

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.