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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.

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
Bias Minimization 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.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
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:

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 Satisfactory

Although not examining all aspects of the issue, it promotes dialogue and action within groups of students.

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

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
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

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: 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 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.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Good

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

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 Satisfactory
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 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 learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning 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: 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 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 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 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.