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Quagmire

A Simulation Game For Wetland Decision Making

Secondary, Elementary, Middle

Description

Quagmire is a role-playing game that simulates a real situation: whether or not to destroy a salt marsh to build a highway, or protect the marsh from development. Participating in a debate, students take on the roles of various stakeholders such as government, industry, business, farmers and environmental organizations to discuss the fate of a saltwater marsh located in the Maritimes.

·     The resource comes on a DVD in PDF format.  It is available in both Gr.5-8 and Gr. 9-12 versions

·     The detailed simulation/role-playing format includes printable and suggested resources to help prepare student role-players for their tasks in the simulation.

·     The chairperson role for the simulated regional council meeting is scripted and can be played by a student or a teacher.

Many useful, easy to perform wetland science experiments and activities are included to inform students about wetland functions.  Most can be done outside or inside with minimal materials and in the dead of winter.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • How to write letters to decision-makers.
  • How to make an appearance at a public meeting.
  • How to 'chair' a public meeting.

Strengths

  • Has some of the best support for a public debate on environmental issues available.
  • Strong thumbnail sketches of wetlands issues across Canada, including the North.
  • Very useful science extension activities that can be done with minimal materials and in the dead of winter.

Weaknesses

  • Resource is marred by a lack of illustrations.  Its solid, uninterrupted text presents a major challenge for weaker readers.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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  • Alberta
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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Habitat Loss
  • Science and Technology (1)

    • Alternative Ways of Doing Science

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • Letters sketch out most economic interests and other interests of most typical players in marshlands debate.
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 Very Good
  • Excellent portrayal of the social, economic and environmental impacts that emerge from this type of development issue.
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
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
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
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good
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 suggested marshlands Scavenger Hunt is useful and highly empathetic. 
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
  • Excellent thumb-nail sketch of wetlands conservation issues across Canada, including the north.
  • This encourages students to make links with the issues in their area.
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 Very Good
  • Background notes at the end of the exercise provide a brief yet powerful overview of the threats wetlands have faced from various cultures over time.  This discussion includes the Acadian drainage of wetlands in the 17th century, the draining of lakes in BC for farmland in the 1920's and South Africa's challenge to retain wetlands in the face of a fresh water crisis.
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 Very Good
  • Role playing presents many different points of view.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
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 Very Good
  • Has excellent tips on making field trips to media outlets to prepare the students for their roles in the simulation.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • While the stakeholders' letters are written at an accessible reading level, the reading level of the rest of the unit is unintentionally very high; even the Gr.5-8 version uses words like 'haphazardly' which are high secondary level.
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 Good
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
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 limited student-feedback is suggested, but this is focused on evaluating the lesson and not the students.
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 Very Good
  • One of the best environmental simulations on the web.
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
  • Weaker readers may struggle with the text.
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
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.