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Quest for Clean Shorelines (Elementary/Middle)

Elementary, Middle

Description

This comprehensive resource consisting of activities and lessons concerning watersheds and watershed pollution culminates in a half-day field activity during which students take steps to clean-up a local shoreline.  The activities build awareness of issues affecting the health of watersheds and prepare students to take on a stewardship role within their community.

Part A.  Getting Ready explores the distribution of water and its role as a vital substance.  Students are also introduced to local watershed issues and make preparations to undertake a shoreline/riparian zone clean-up.

Part B. Clean-Up/Audit- Students undertake the shoreline clean-up and complete an audit of the various pollutants they encounter.  Sculptures are made from the materials collected to capture the students’ wishes for positive change.

Part C.  Sharing the Learning- Students compile and display using graphs and charts, the results of their audits. They then focus on individual behaviors and actions that have positive and negative impacts on watersheds.

Part D. Extending the Learning offers students three related stewardship opportunities to contribute to positive change in their community.

The resource includes background information, field trip guidelines and suggestions for assessment.

 

General Assessment

Strengths

  • As is, this is an excellent resource dealing with a topic that hits at one of our most critical aspects for continued success as a species... personal responsibility.
  • The resource does not just focus on local water but manages to draw in global (planetary) perspectives. One cannot have on-going success in the area of water management unless participants understand the bigger picture.
  • Another strenght is the framework that has been laid down for further development of strategies and sound pedagogical thinking regarding an issue that touches us all.
  • The resource is interesting.
  • This resource in an extended form, could become a broader, on-going initiative.
  • Sufficient background materials and websites are included for the benefit of both teachers and students.

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

That human activity creates the problem and human activity can also alleviate it.

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Habitat Restoration
  • Waste Management (1)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Water (2)

    • Water Use
    • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good

There is an opportunity here for stakeholders of the problem to express all of their points of view, looking to a solution, and not be just a maintenance situation.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
  • Through the students' participation in the activities, audit and clean-up and the debriefing process, there are many opportunities for them to discuss and think critically around the many dimensions of the problems.
  • There are important aspects of the relationships of the environment, society and economics within this issue and these concepts are explored and discussed.
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 Good
  • (see above)
  • Activities do take into consideration plants and animals, small and larger, and their habitats, as well as the inter-connectedness of our actions as a society and the economic spin-offs relative to the environment.
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Very Good
  • The Shoreline Clean-Up part of this resource is indeed an excellent activity. It exemplifies the fact that small efforts, when combined, can make a big difference. It is the action that underlies all grassroots efforts and has built-in an intrinsic value.
  • The follow-up activities are critical even if the creek clean up is not undertaken. The students can cooperatively develop strategies for changing our less than excellent attitudes as a nation about water, waterways and the problem of litter.
  • Through the audit development and data-collection the students will have gathered a great deal of information which can be shared with the entire community - a very effective tool to implement change at many levels. This can be built on.
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
  • Lesson activities are sufficiently detailed. It may seem that cleaning up litter on a shoreline is a simple task, yet there are very specific skills that need to be taught to children in order that the clean-up be effective.
  • Action skills are well supported within the activities. Students collect information and can decide on the best way to present it.
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

What is found in the clean-up quite often leads to discussions about lifestyles and teachers do need to be prepared for this.

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 lesson activities do reflect an interest and awareness of plants and animals and not just humans.
  • Students are encouraged to take care of where they move, not to disturb flora and fauna and to help restore the natural habitat.
  • More information could be added with respect to fish habitat as that is an area where the public already has some interest but little awareness.
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 resource activities touch on global and local issues, and efforts are made for students to have hands-on experiences that in some cases are simulations of concepts and sometimes are actual visitations to sites.
  • Students realize on a holistic level the significance of having safe fresh water and that their own "backyard" areas may be in need of attention.
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
  • The resource does focus on the present situation, and emphasizes numerical information gathered to direct future learning.
  • This resource lays the groundwork for potential social change that is sustainable.
  • It serves as an excellent jumping off spot for children and youth to become authentically engaged in changing community attitudes about the environment.
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

Students are greatly encouraged to use their own ideas, creativity, opinions and observations throughout this resource - with the complexity of the issues a constant reminder that there is no one "right" answer!

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
  • This is a great resource for integrating many different subjects and learning situations.
  • This resource could be more dynamic if a greater number of community people were brought in as part of the lesson discussions, and action plans.
  • The interdisciplinary aspect of a project such as this is not just about the Social Studies and Math, but about the community.
  • As is, however, there is an over-all "lived" approach to the environmental issues-looking at the whole problem, and not just from a single discipline.
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 Very Good
  • Students are given tasks that encourage a problem-solving approach.
  • Reaching consensus and building on prior knowledge is critical.
  • Students explore their own environment and make their own observations.  They collect data, analyse their findings and find a way to best represent their information.
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 Very Good
  • The first lessons build to a finale with the last three activities leading to the students providing the issues for discussion and community education.
  • Students are given several opportunities to assess and discuss their own perspectives about water issues and to consider what they value and why.
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 Very Good
  • Several learning styles are facilitated in the lessons. Suggestions are made for various levels of learning, partly due to the fact that the resource was created for multiple grade use.
  • There is tremendous potential for students who have worked through this series of activities to become mentors to younger students or even community groups.
  • There is also potential here for this to be an excellent school-wide initiative.
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
  • Students are very much connected to their local environment.
  • The clean-up day is an authentic experience.
  • The series of lessons prepares children for roles as change agents.
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
  • Students are engaged in self and peer assessment as they exchange ideas and share attitudes and previous experiences.
  • Teachers can glean much about their students' learning and knowledge if they circulate constantly from group to group. The teacher's role is that of an educational facilitator and the 'teacher as sage' dims.
  • The perceived need and the follow-up actions must come from the children themselves in order that their involvement and solutions be authentic.
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
  • There is tremendous potential for peer teaching and community involvement. Not one single Canadian, wherever we live in this country can afford to abstain from being a peer teacher on this topic.
  • This resource provides a context of action and ideas  for development into a national initiative of the most important kind.
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 Satisfactory
  • Teachers would need to get information about their own area- but other areas could be used as effective case studies.
  • A forum for participants to share nationally their findings and their subsequent actions for change could be included.
  • Teachers and students should check out the national website on this activity and submit their own stories and action plan results.
  • Case studies could become the thread that defines what the problem is, how it has materialized, and most importantly, how communities have made effective and lasting positive change to sustain the integrity of our watersheds, waterways, and quality of water. This is a critical teaching/learning component.
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 Very Good
  • The resource starts a phenomenally important investigation and the participants should really be held accountable for taking this as far as it can go.
  • Developers, participant observers, and participants are thrown into the role of "caretakers of wonder" and as such, have a responsibility to make what they do, authentic.
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.