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Nature's Partners - Pollination, Plants and You

Elementary, Middle

Description

This comprehensive set of seven learning modules introduces students to the fascinating relationship between plants and pollinating insects.  Throughout the detailed biological investigation of bees, moths and butterflies there is an emphasis on developing a stewardship ethic in students by linking pollinators to food production.  Each module contains several short inquiry-based lessons in which students will:

  • Examine the anatomy of flowers to learn about plant reproduction.
  • Investigate insect and plant adaptations that aid in the pollination process.
  • Observe bees and butterflies in their natural habitat.
  • Explore the value of pollinating insects in food production.
  • Survey and describe pollinator-friendly habitat surrounding the school.
  • Investigate how to create pollinator friendly habitat.
  • Plan community based stewardship actions that support habitat conservation for bees and butterflies.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Observation
  • Analysis
  • Classification
  • Plant identification
  • Use of scientific equipment
  • Communication
  • Community mapping
  • Habitat restoration

Strengths

  • Recognizes the links between environmental health, human health and economic sustainability.
  • Extremely well organized with all of the handouts and worksheets easily accessible.
  • Includes a large variety of learning experiences with an emphasis on active learning.
  • Includes a community action project component.
  • Each module can be taught independently providing a great deal of flexibility in delivery.
  • Includes an assessment tool to evaluate learning.

Weaknesses

  • Some of the modules require scientific specimens which may be hard to locate, although instructions are provided for a teacher to create their own.
  • The recommended "Pollinator Field Journal" must be purchased.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The lessons in this resource support curriculum outcomes related to the diversity of life, interactions within ecosystems and ecological sustainability.  Because students learn about the importance of pollinating insects to the growth of fruits and vegetables  there is also an opportunity to develop an integrated Science/Health unit that examines food production from the context of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  A visit to a local organic farm could provide students with information about pesticide free agricultural production which could translate into a community project that promotes green gardening techniques.

Students will learn that habitat loss is one of the most significant threats to moths, butterflies and bees so there is a tremendous opportunity to partner with a local gardening club to develop a school "pollinator garden".  A class could also expand this conservation initiative by issuing challenges to other schools to create pollinator habitat with gardens or "mow free" zones that allow wildflower growth for the summer.

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 4
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        • Plant Growth and Changes
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Food & Agriculture (3)

    • Conventional Farming
    • Local Food
    • Organic Farming
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Habitat Restoration

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This resource leads students through the biological science of plant pollination to an understanding of the connections between food and pollinators.  This fosters an appreciation for the vital role of insects in their own lives.  Students are also actively engaged in considering the conservation challenges that face pollinating insects and their habitats.

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

As students learn about the process of pollination they will deepen their understanding of threats to food production caused by declining bee and butterfly populations.  Thus the connection between environmental and economic sustainability is made while the social implications of food security are highlighted.

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

Students are able to explore scientific cause and effect relationships and use this information to describe interactions within ecosystems and develop new ideas about conservation.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

Three of the seven modules in this resource are designed to lead students through the process of developing a community action project.  The class will evaluate and document local pollinator habitat and use this information to design a stewardship initiative that emphasizes collaborative partnerships as the mechanism for project delivery.

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 Good

Many students may be initially fearful of insects such as bees and moths but by providing an in-depth exploration of these organisms this resource supports a new appreciation of pollinators.  Conservation often focuses on more appealing species so it is important that students have an opportunity to gain insight into the connections between all living things.  This learning unit provides a platform for this self discovery.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

Although this resource is focused on science and conservation there is a great deal of interpersonal communication that facilitates the development of respect for other opinions and ideas.

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

Activities such as investigating insect attraction to sugar solutions or documenting the availability of pollinator habitat within their community has students actively engaged with the natural world in an outdoor setting.  Connections with nature could be further developed by having students observe other species during their explorations and developing ecosystem food webs that include pollinating insects.

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 Good

Pollinating insects play a vital role in the agricultural economy of many regions of Canada so this issue is relevant across the country.  On a more personal level students will also make a connection between their explorations and the food they buy at grocery stores and farmer's markets.  A focus on local habitat conservation is also an integral component of this resource.

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

There is little information in this resource about historical populations and diversity of pollinating insects other than a recognition that numbers have declined.  However, there is an emphasis on looking towards the future through the strong support of active citizen engagement in the conservation of these 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 Good

There are many opportunities for students to establish connections with prior learning through inquiry based activities that develop reasoning skills.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This resource has been developed to primarily support science outcomes but the information about healthy foods offers an opportunity to integrate health outcomes into the learning experience.

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

The activities encourage interaction and engagement with nature in a manner that provides many opportunities for students to move beyond the parameters of the lesson to make new discoveries.

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

There are no specific differentiation strategies but there are a variety of learning options in each module.  Students will participate in hands-on nature exploration, construction of nesting structures, creation and design and working with community members.  Each lesson also contains other ideas for delivery that could be adapted to meet the needs of all learners.

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

All of the activities incorporate a hands-on approach that engages students in a meaningful learning experience.  The action project is also community based which provides a personally relevant context for the application of new learning to address a conservation issue.

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 Good

The wrap-up section of this resource includes a student led conservation project where students must learn and use cooperative problem solving and teamwork skills.

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

One of the key strengths of this resource is that the teacher is provided with pre-assessment and post-assessment tools that evaluate student knowledge before and after completion of each module.

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

One of the best opportunities for peer to peer interaction is in the development of the community action project where students work cooperatively to develop, plan and implement their ideas.  This facet of the resource also requires considerable interaction with community members and students will be able to teach others about pollinator habitat.

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

Collecting habitat data within their own community ensures that students are exploring this topic in a relevant context.

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 Good

The balance between classroom instruction and outdoor exploration provides students with many opportunities to direct their own learning.  During the experiments where students investigate insect attractions to sugar and colour a teacher could also facilitate the inquiry process by supporting student driven hypotheses.

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.