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Mission Five: How is the Arctic Changing?

Elementary, Middle

Description

This one day lesson plan explores how the Arctic is changing through a series of demonstrations, discussions and the viewing of a slideshow.  The lessons and activities have been designed to follow on from one another, building student’s understanding and appreciation of the Arctic Ocean environment. The students will either complete the demonstrations or participate as spectators (teacher's choice) in the following activities:

1. The albedo effect: This demonstration looks at how decreasing sea ice contributes to an increased amount of solar energy being absorbed in the Arctic.

2. Sea level rise: In this activity the students will explore how the melting of different types of ice, either on land or in the sea, affects the sea level rise. This demonstration shows how the melting of different types of ice in the Arctic will affect sea level rise globally.

3.  Ocean circulation: In this demonstration the students will learn that the ocean has deep currents that affect the climate of the Earth.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

As this lesson is based around a demonstration and observation, there are no skills that are explicitly taught.

Strengths

This lesson plan has the following strengths:

  • It provides a substantial amount of background information and useful links.
  • It is teacher friendly with step by step directions.
  • It also provides expected results for the demonstrations and common misconceptions so that the teacher can feel confident in the lesson.

Weaknesses

This lesson plan has the following weaknesses:

  • The time frame given, 60 minutes, seems short in order to fully address the material and the demonstrations.
  • There is a lack of "what's next?" for the students in order to make a difference in the situation.
  • There are no opportunities for the students to direct or initiate their own study/questions based on the ideas presented.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This lesson illustrations quite well the changes that are occurring in the Arctic.  It would be beneficial resource to add to a unit on climate change or a unit study of the Arctic.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Science 7: Earth and its climate have changed over geological time
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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (2)

    • Climate Change
    • Ozone Depletion
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

In the supporting materials and information that is provided with the lesson, various view points are explained.

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

 In the supporting material, the socio-geopolitical and environmental issues are discussed.

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
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

As this lesson is based in observations of a demonstration, there are no action opportunities presented.

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

As this lesson is based around making observations of demonstrations, it is factually based; however, the final slide in the presentation does allow for the students to reflect upon their learning by answering several questions.  This could be modified to have the students complete a journal reflection and submitted to the teacher rather than completing it orally as a class discussion.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus of this lesson.

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
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 Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus of this lesson.

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

The present situation is discussed and the impact on the future is also explored; however, the past is briefly touched upon in the viewing of the video of the changes in the sea ice from 1979-2012.

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

As this lesson is observation based, the students are making factual observations; however, as a whole the lesson plan does allow the students to gather information to make intelligent decisions and learn to debunk some of the common misconceptions that exist about the changes that are occurring in the Arctic.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory
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 Good
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

The base of the lesson are three demonstrations that the students observe.

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

There is an opportunity during the slideshow to pause and have a Think, Pair, Share with the students.

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 Very Good

In the comprehensive zip file containing all of the materials for the lesson, there are learning outcomes for the students, methods for differentiation and assessment checkpoints throughout.  

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

The focus of the lesson being the observations of demonstrations leads to cooperative learning and sharing of information through discussions.

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

With the use of the video and the slideshow presentation, the students are introduced in an interesting way to the changes that are occurring in the Arctic.

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

There are some suggestions for extension activities such as explaining the problem for a point of view of a polar bear that could allow for the students to explore the issue further.

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.