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Mapping the Impact

From "Buy, Use, Toss"

Secondary, Middle

Description

In this ESD classroom resource students work in small groups to create novel web diagrams that illustrate the array of environmental, social and economic impacts related to the consumption of everyday items such as cell phones, t-shirts or athletic shoes. The activity expands the biospheric impact concept  of 'ecological footprint' (i.e. cutting rain forest for beef cattle grazing land) to include impacts of consumer product choices on people and societies (i.e. over consumption of hamburgers leading to obesity). Students develop ideas to and promote sustainable consumption and reduce their ecological footprint related to everyday items.

Each student group subsequently presents to the larger group its web diagrams and creative solutions for improving the manufacture and use of specific consumer products. Poignent reflection questions are then provided to stimulate thinking further about the sustainability of lifestyle, manufacturing and business practices.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • This discovery learning resource is easy to use. There are good tools to orient students to the web graphic work which teachers can assess;
  • The central purpose of the activities are clear throughout and the content is interesting;
  • The resource encourages systems thinking (especiallly about the relationship between ecological and social impacts) through an integrated approach that blurs subject boundaries;
  • The activities enable students to arrive at their own answers;
  • The work provides a strong sense of the present and a positive vision for the future on reducing the social impacts of manufacturing and consumption. 

Weaknesses

  • Empathy and respect for humans, values clarification and social justice principles are relevant but not considered directly;
  • Direct, authentic experiences are absent; action experiences are provided as extension activities;
  • Students are not provided with opportunities to choose the medium in which they wish to work;
  • Although web resources are suggested and helpful teaching hints are provided, there are no humans to contact for support.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Can be used in social studies, geography, business and environmental studies classes.

Involves small group work and bringing that understanding to share with full class. The orientation period involves introducing ideas from a case study to the full class and then breaking off into small groups.

What important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

The ecological footprint concept has a critical but limited focus. An integrated model of the ecological and social impact implications of manufacturing processes and consumption is also needed.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (2)

    • Ecological Footprint
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Justice
  • Waste Management (1)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good

Students are asked to take on the perspectives of economists, sociologists, materials and industrial process specialists, environmental and social impact analysts.

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

Positive and negative ecological, economic and social consequences are effectively addressed.

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

Action opportunities are extensions.

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 Poor/Not considered

No skills are taught. The resource emphasizes analyzing processes and impacts and proposing alternatives.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Poor,not considered

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 Satisfactory

 The attention the days 1 and 2 activities gives to environmental impacts provides some sense of affinity for 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 Good

The use of a hamburger (and very personal items later) to help illustrate the concept involved here does a good job of encouraging learning that is relevant to the lives of the learners.

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

Students are asked to consider existing manufacturing practices, consumption and their impacts as well as alternative manufacturing practices and products and better ways of using products whose impacts they are evaluating.

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
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 Very Good
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 Poor/Not considered

Poor, not considered.

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

There is lots of analysis as well as web diagramming.

The resource teaches only to cognitive domains.

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 simulation exercises satisfy the learning objectives which require lots of student analysis.

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

Satisfactory, students work in groups.

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 chart with substantive information and criteria to help students organize their thoughts.

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

Satisfactory, incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc..

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

The case study is called "Hamburger, Fries and Cola. What Did it Take to Produce This American Meal"?"

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

The students do select their own consumer items and  are given freedom in the design of their webs. Students are not offered a choice about the medium in which they work.

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.