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Invasive Species: A Resource for Grade 7

Middle

Description

This resource is targeted for Grade 7 students in Ontario but would be appropriate for use in any middle level science class to encourage students to explore invasive plant and animal species in their area and to learn about the negative impacts associated with them. Lessons also create awareness and support student action to limit the spread of invasive species in local communities.

This learning package emphasizes the impacts that invasive species can have on domestic crop production, foreign market access, human health, land use and values, recreational opportunities, and biodiversity.

Activities include creating a public service announcement or podcast on the negative impacts of invasive species, researching a specific plant species, mapping invasive species locally, creating a farm plan which helps to control invasive species and simulating different ecological scenarios related to invasive species and the protection of crops.

This resource includes helpful appendices with fact sheets, a glossary, rubrics, a case study, activity suggestions and links to additional information.

Lesson One: Introduction to Invasive Species – What is the Impact?

After defining invasive species and their mode of introduction, students discuss their environmental and ecological impacts on ecosystems and crop production. Groups of students are then asked to create a public service announcement about an invasive species of their choice.

Lesson Two: Ontario’s Most Unwanted Invasive Species

After students sort invasive species into economic and environmental categories,  they are asked to research an invasive plant species and prepare a visual presentation on the variety they selected.  Working in pairs, they then create fact sheets and a booklet for use in future lessons.

Lesson Three: On the Hunt for Invasive Species

Using the student-made fact sheets from lesson two, students go on a field trip to the school yard, a wooded area, a local neighborhood, or a conservation area, to map out and take pictures of the invasive plant species they find. Students are then encouraged to call the invasive species hot line and report any sightings.

Lesson Four: Agricultural Efforts against Invasive Species

After looking at samples students create a T-chart to compare an invasive species to a plant grown by local farmers. They  brainstorm possible reasons why invasive species are such competitive growers and why farmers would want to keep them out of their fields. A case study on the Environmental Farm Plan is read and students are introduced to the three ways that invasive species are controlled. (biologically, mechanically, and with chemicals).  In groups students design a plan of action to control and prevent invasive species on River Run Farm.

Lesson Five: Insect invasion- Japanese Invasion

Teachers bring in a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables and facilitate a discussion on local farming and the threats and challenges which face these crops. After reading a case study on the Japanese Beetle, questions on their negative impact are discussed. Students then go to the gym to participate in a kinesthetic activity which simulates the effect of the Japanese Beetle on crops/plants.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • Excellent suggestions for extension activities
  • The appendices provide good background information, useful handouts, relevant links, and a glossary written in student-friendly language
  • Students will enjoy the interactive simulation activity which analyzes different ecological scenarios related to invasive species and crop production
  • Case studies are relevant
  • Has an authentic action plan
  • Rubrics provide assessment plans
  • Resource is relevant, interesting and up-to-date
  • Experiential learning activity is relevant, outdoors ,and has local focus
  • Lessons are written so that most students can be successful
  • Promotes community awareness

Weaknesses

  • No data collection tables
  • No exemplar in the mapping activity
  • Teachers from outside of Ontario will need to include examples and information on invasive species found in their region.

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Creating a variety of media text for different purposes and audiences
  • Working cooperatively with group members to carry out a plan
  • Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data
  • Proposing solutions to a problem being investigated
  • Reading and responding to written and media information
  • Presenting information in different ways

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used in middle level science classes to meet outcomes addressing biodiversity and loss of habitat. It could also be used in geography courses to emphasize the link between human activity and environmental & 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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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 7
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        • Processes of Science

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Biodiversity
    • Invasive Species
  • Food & Agriculture (3)

    • Conventional Farming
    • Food Security
    • Local Food
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (2)

    • Habitat Restoration
    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

This resource focuses on the havoc that many invasive species create in ecosystems and crop production.  It does not mention the benefits of species like the non-native honey bee. Some ecologists argue that perhaps it is time to focus on the actual function of the non-native species within an ecosystem rather than on where the species originated.

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 emphasizes that invasive species, which are introduced to areas through human activity, can present economic and environmental challenges.

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, it promotes dialogue and action within groups of students.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Good

Students map invasive species in their local communities and report their findings to a government hot line. They also increase awareness of the problems associated with non-native species through public service announcements and podcasts. Extension activities have many other suggestions for action.

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 Good

The message is clear that devastation of domestic crop production by some invasive species brings economic hardship to farmers and affects local food supplies.

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 the opportunity to search for invasive species in their own communities and explore the damage they can cause to their environment.

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 Very Good
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 complete research projects and perform experiential activities to evaluate present situations. The future is seen as positive only if students continue to work to create awareness and take action with regards to the potential threats posed by invasive species.

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 able to discover some answers on their own through a guided inquiry approach.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Although primarily a science resource, there are opportunities for addressing outcomes in language arts, visual arts, 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 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

A variety of instructional strategies are suggested including researching invasive species, creating a podcast, participating in an outdoor activity and simulation, and reading and discussing case studies. Both cognitive and affective domains are addressed. There are no accommodations suggested for struggling students but appropriate groupings should help address differences in abilities.

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 Very Good

The resource involves the students in an out-of-doors, "hands-on" learning opportunity as well as an interactive simulation.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made concrete. Working with real objects,  using real sources of information
  • Good: learning takes place in a real-world context. Simulation, mentorship
  • Very good: learning provides experience beyond the classroom.  Addressing real world issues and problems 
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 Satisfactory

Some reflection questions and suggested rubrics are provided. Teachers will  be required to develop further assessment tools and strategies.

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 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 Satisfactory

There are opportunities in extension activities to go deeper into chosen activities.

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.