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Pulling for Biodiversity


Elementary, Middle


Examples used in "Pulling for Biodiversity" are specific to Ontario.

It introduces the concept of invasive species, and explains in an interactive and engaging manner why they are destructive and what can done about them. 


  • Activity 1. What Are Invasive Species? Through a matching exercise, students evaluate species’ similarities and differences, categorizing species as either native, introduced/non-invasive, and invasive.
  • Activity 2. Musical Mussels. Students role-play lake animals in a version of musical chairs to discover how and why invasive species spread so easily.
  • Activity 3. Crayfish Conundrum. Through an active simulation game, students experience the dynamics of invasive introductions and population fluctuations within a simple aquatic system, focusing on Rusty Crayfish.
  • Activity 4. Garlic Mustard Invasion. Students become plants and compete for resources with this specific forest invader, and discover why it is so successful.
  • Activity 5. Managing Invasive Species. Students will learn about either Garlic Mustard or Rusty Crayfish, and then come up with ways to remove them or limit their spread. If students will be engaged in IBD activities, a connection will be made to the actions that they will undertake in the field.

General Assessment


  • The activities will engage students.
  • The background information is sufficient for the teacher.
  • The resource is specific and easy to follow.


  • There is an insufficient number of student information cards in activity one. Class sizes are often larger than 24. Teachers could provide duplicate cards to students, but better to introduce as many local species as possible.
  • The activity cards could be double sided to include more information about each creature. Information could be categorized and include: TEK for native species, social and economic concerns, etc...The cards could then be laminated and used for many activities in an ESD classroom.
  • The resource activities do not explicitly explore the multiple dimensions of the issue.
  • The resource activities are excellent explorations with some ideas for discussion but are without opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding. Teachers will need develop this on their own.

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

  • Supply and demand/survival of the fittest.
  • Succession.

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.

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Biodiversity
    • Invasive Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Very Good
  • Supports ESD beliefs and values.
Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory
  • The activities focus almost exclusively on exploring the environmental dimensions of the issue.
  • Economic and social issues are included in the teacher notes and to some extent, in the extension activities.
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
  • The activities demonstrate an interconnection of species with the aquatic environment.
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Satisfactory
  • Actions are suggested for managing the spread of invasive species but students are not provided an explicit opportunity to do anything with the information they are accumulating.
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
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
  • Not applicable to the 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
  • The games could easily be played in the out-of-doors.
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
  • The lesson tackles local Ontario issues.
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
  • The history of the introduction of the focus species is provided in the extensive teacher notes. Familiarity with these stories will be important in order to accurately address student questions.
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
  •  The lessons use structured inquiry.
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
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
  • Even though the lesson is structured, the playfulness of the activities allow students to 'discover' the key learning points.
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 Good
  • Before the first activity commences students have opportunity to explore their personal response to not getting their needs met. This may foster empathy for native species.
  • students do not have an explicit opportunity to revisit their values.
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 Good
  • The activities are highly kinesthetic.
  • Modifications and adaptation ideas are not provided.
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 activities are simulations.  Educative action ideas are offered as an extension of lesson five.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • No tools to capture assessment information are provided.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • The games do not provide explicit opportunity for peer teaching.
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 Very Good
  • The lessons centre on the Rusty Crayfish and Garlic Mustard, the two species targeted for action in Ontario on or near to the IBD.
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 resource does not provide opportunities for student's to go deeper unless the teacher decides on completing extension 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.