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This simple lesson plan uses experiential activities to help develop student understanding of soil composition and plant growth. With an emphasis on conservation, the soil activities provide many opportunities for classroom discussion of the impacts of humans on this life-sustaining natural resource.
The four core activities actively enage students in:
The resource is an excellent fit for grade 3 Science. It would work extremely well as an integrated approach to the study of soils and plant growth. The initial soil investigation could be expanded by having students explore and compare other soil types from regions surrounding their community. Samples could also be further analyzed with activities such as testing water absorption rates and examining soil composition through sedimentation. The seed growing activity uses bean seeds, which if grown to maturity will produce food. Students could experiment with growing other vegetables and a class could even establish a school vegetable garden to learn about local food. A member of a local community garden could be invited to teach the class about organic gardening practices such as composting and natural pest control.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
An open-ended approach encourages student reflection about the interactions between soils, society and the environment.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
Students actively explore the link between soils and plant growth which deepens their understanding of the social and environmental impacts of soil loss. Although not specifically addressed in the lessons, the economic impacts of soil degradation can be easily incorporated into the discussion around crops and food production.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
Exploration with hands-on activities supports evidence-based learning to foster dialogue about an important conservation issue.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Satisfactory|
There are no specific action activities in the resource but students will identify ways to offset soil degradation such as composting and maintaining trees. Thus, a teacher could build upon this discussion by implementing a classroom soil conservation project.
|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
Students are able to develop a personal connection to the topic which will result in an enhanced awareness of the importance of soils and plants in their own lives.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
Not considered in this resource.
|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|
All of the activities are designed to be implemented outside. The soil sampling lesson specifically, engages students in exploring their natural world. Growing seeds also fosters a connection to nature and deepens student awareness of how Earth provides them with food.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
This resource addresses an issue that is common to all regions of Canada. The activities also provide students with an opportunity to explore and learn about soil types and plant growing conditions in their community.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
Students are asked to consider the impacts of soil erosion on crop production but the resource is limited in scope in terms of identifying how agricultural practices have changed over time.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
There are many opportunities throughout this resource for students to establish connections with prior learning through inquiry-based activities.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
|Integrated Learning||Poor/Not considered|
This resource has been specifically developed to support the Pan Canadian science curriculum. However, the "If the Earth was an Apple" activity addresses math outcomes related to fractions.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
The activities in this resource encourage interaction with the outdoor environment and engage students in an authentic learning experience that fosters discovery.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
Although there are no specific differentiation strategies identified in this resource the hands-on nature of the activities will appeal to a diverse range of learners.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
|Experiential Learning||Very Good|
The soil exploration and seed growing activities engage students in an authentic and meaningful learning experience.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning||Poor/Not considered|
Students work individually or as a whole class.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Poor/Not considered|
There are no assessment strategies included with 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||Poor/Not considered|
Although peer teaching is not specifically considered, the "Planting Seedlings" activity suggests that volunteers are used to help. Students from older grade levels could be recruited to assist the class which would facilitate some peer-led instruction.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
The soil investigations and plant growing activity ensure that students are exploring the topic of soil conservation on a local level with data and information that is relevant.
|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|
The activities are primarily teacher led, but students can direct their own learning experience in the outdoor exploration component of the unit.
|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.|