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Green Life Planet Series-Learning Resources

Middle

Description

This video-based resource is designed to promote interest and develop understanding and skills related to sustainable development. The lessons are based on DVD episodes, each focusing on a different sustainability issue, including how humans have affected the sustainability of the planet, building green communities, organic farming and local food, renewable energy, the link between over consumption and waste management, and creating sustainable solutions. Although focused on Saskatchewan, these materials are relevent to curriculum across Canada.

The lessons can be used in a "stand alone" format to target specific issues or as a unit to focus on a specific aspect of sustainability.  A simulation runs through the entire six lessons and involves taking on the roles of town councillors to create a sustainable community development plan. Councillors work to achieve sustainability goals which require collaboration, research, application of solutions and presentation skills.

Lesson One: Crossroads

Video Summary: Humans have affected the sustainability of our planet, which has been able to survive for billions of years. Things are getting "out of balance", of late and putting this sustainability at risk.

Students are introduced to the concepts of sustainability, sustainable development.  Activities include previewing & brainstorming of terms, student-led research on a topic from the video and an ecological footprint analysis. A “Drama in Context” option introduces the simulated role play where students become town councillors and start work on a community development plan.

Lesson Two: Stand Alone

Video Summary: Faced with the disappearance of their town due to economic hardship, the community of Craik, SK embraces environmental sustainability as a means of revitalization.

After viewing, the students are asked to relate Craik  to their own community, and generate 2-3 ideas that could be implemented to improve its ecological footprint and move towards more sustainable practices. Students are asked to create an action plan and implement it locally. In the “Drama in Context” students are asked to consider specific changes needed in order to assist in the development of a healthy, sustainable community.

Lesson Three: Good Food

Video Summary: Environmentalists, organic farmers, grocers, and food practitioners explain the benefits of choosing organic and local food.

Students record their food consumption for two days and then assess the environmental impacts of these choices with regards to food sources, ingredients, transportation, packaging, local jobs, convenience, and cost. They then reflect on what changes they could make to create a more sustainable food system, and are encouraged to act on these.  The ‘Drama in Context” has town councillors continue to discuss how to access quality food while developing the community.

Lesson Four: Personal Power: The Art of Living Off the Grid

Video Summary: Four families who have chosen to live “off the grid” without conventional power explain their choices.

This lesson focuses on the concepts of alternate energy, solar power, and renewable energy. Students discuss how their own homes are heated, how the power company in their region produces power and the sacrifices made by families “living off the grid”.  They then track their own energy consumption for two days and create a class concept web to post in the classroom.  In the ‘Drama in Context”, town councillors consider how to accommodate both the infrastructure needed for a growing town, and a rising interest in renewable energy.

Lesson Five:  Waste Not

Video Summary:  We are drowning in a sea of garbage. This episode asks who is responsible for the huge amount of solid waste generated and what we as individuals can do about it.

Students examine the concept of waste management, the three ‘Rs”, blue box programs, fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gases. Activities include writing poems or songs that reflecting on their own waste items and presenting their thoughts  to the rest of the class. They are then asked to draw a web of the 'true price' of an item they have purchased, considering what it costs to “bring the item to them”. The ‘Drama in Context” activity asks the council to deal with waste problems associated with their landfill having reached its capacity.

Lesson Six: The Future

Video Summary: This video encourages students to take a lead in creating sustainable solutions and begin to live “green”.

Students are asked to create a ‘green” message emphasizing the future of the planet or their own community and present it to community groups, and/or government agencies.  In the “Drama in Context” councillors access progress and prepare a report for the class or community highlighting the importance of living a ‘green life”.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • First Nations perspectives are included
  • Demonstrates effectively the complexity that characterizes environmental issues
  • Helps students form concepts, beliefs and attitudes
  • Designed for a Canadian audience
  • Assessment tools and supports are provided complete with rubrics and anecdotal reporting charts
  • Has a strong multi-disciplinary approach
  • Has an action plan template and action opportunity
  • Suggested activities have local focus and encourage community participation
  • Resource is thorough and up-to-date
  • Students will enjoy role play and simulation activities

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Weaknesses

  • No accommodations suggested for struggling  students
  • Younger students may lose interest in the videos due to the amount of screen time given to individual interviews

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (5)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • Ecological Footprint
    • General Guide to Taking Action
    • Media
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use
  • Food & Agriculture (2)

    • Local Food
    • Organic Farming
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Sustainable Urbanization
  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good

There is a positive biased towards the concept of sustainable living, encouraging people to make difficult lifestyles choices today, in order to have quality life in the future.  Many individuals from all walks of life were interviewed. Students gather information and facts to make their own conclusions.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The triple bottom line for sustainability is emphasized in this resource. The interdependence of community, environment, and economy is the central theme.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity Good
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Good

Students are given the opportunity to examine specific needs in their own community and encouraged to develop and deliver action plans.

Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Good

The resource stresses the need for individual action, consensus building, cooperation and volunteerism to meet the needs of the community. An action plan template is provided for planning, implementation, and assessment.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

Empathy is fostered and students are encouraged to respect human diversity, rights and responsibilities while valuing society’s interdependence with our environment and the concept of sustainability.

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

Students are given a sense of social responsibility to contribute to the well-being of themselves, others, and the natural world.

Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Very Good
Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Good
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

Students are encouraged to consider and develop their own thoughts and opinions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Good

A highly integrated approach is used with learning opportunities in science, geography, social studies, art, language arts, and media literacy.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Good
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Good
Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Good

Activities address both the cognitive and affective domains. A range of learning activities are given which include research, data collection, reflection on lifestyle choice, presentations with and without technology, and the creation of an action plan . Appropriate grouping should address differing intelligences.

Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The resource makes use of a comprehensive simulation that has students apply their learning in an authentic context.

Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
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 Good

There are assessment tools provided for anecdotal reporting along with rubrics to accompany the presentation.

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
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

Videos depict real people choosing “green living” lifestyles.

Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine 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.