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Rain Check: A Guide For Stormwater Action

Secondary, Middle

Description

This guide for taking action provides an opportunity to engage students in a service learning project. They investigate how storm water run-off can effect the water cycle, ecosystem preservation, flooding, pollution and the quality of their drinking water. The resource, written directly for the students to use, provides a comprehensive guide to five steps involved in service learning (investigation, preparation, acting, reflecting and demonstrating) and culminates in a student-driven action plan to limit the environmental damage from storm water runoff in their school yard. The guide links each stage of the service learning process to local issues and provides graphic organizers, case studies and questions to consider.

Stage One- Investigate:  Why Storm Water Matters

The first stage of service learning asks students to find and reflect on essential information about storm water runoff in preparation for developing an action plan.

Students review the hydrologic cycle, the terminology related to storm water management and discuss why storm water runoff matters in their community. They use media, film and the Internet to identify important local issues. Students interview community leaders about storm water issues and conduct surveys  to gauge general awareness of the environmental impacts of run off. Students then work in groups to complete a Rain Check School Storm Water Management Inventory in the school yard, collecting data to document current infrastructure, signs of poor water flow indicators and any impervious surfaces. A Google Maps tool is used to generate maps of the audited area and students are given guidelines to help them calculate the percentage of impervious surfaces and the volume of storm water displaced on school grounds. 

Stage Two- Preparation

Students examine case studies involving the impact of urbanization in Atlanta Georgia and Washington DC. Improvements to the volume of runoff after Washington’s implementation of green infrastructure are used to generate ideas for addressing storm water issues in the students' own community. They are asked to consider such options as installing pervious surfaces, green roofs, cisterns, rain barrels, and native plant and rain gardens. Students discuss the information they have gathered from the different sources and create a mind map or visual representation showing how storm water production, movement and consequences are related.

Stage Three- Act

Using the Rain Water School Storm Water Audit, students develop ideas for beneficial changes in the stormwater management of the school grounds.   Students determine what will be required to make the desired changes, including convincing stakeholders, acquiring funds, and changing people’s behaviors. Case studies describing the implementation of each type of service action (direct action, indirect action, advocacy, research) are discussed and students generate ideas for their action project.  Using the Plan for Storm Water Action Document, students generate ideas, create a time line for action, and prepare a communication strategy.  The action plan is presented to the school administration.  Upon approval, students complete their action plan, monitoring their progress as they move forward.

Stage Four- Reflect: Think Back

Students use a Four Square Reflection Tool to reflect on the success of the service learning opportunity, including their thoughts, ideas, feelings, and further questions generated by this experience.

Stage Five:  Telling the Story

Students demonstrate what they have learned by

  • writing articles and letters
  • creating pamphlets, media presentations (video)  and artistic displays
  • participating in dramatic performances

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Collecting data
  • Interpreting and analyzing trends in data
  • Communicating data effectively
  • Identifying and suggesting solutions for environmental problems
  • Using a variety of sources and technologies to gather information
  • Responding and reflecting on written and media text
  • Interviewing techniques
  • Writing proposals for action

Strengths

  • Reviews, explains and provides templates for the five stages of a service learning project, including the development of an action plan
  • An important topic, as we depend on water for may things
  • Strong links to more service learning resources and to books which provide an overview of water-related issues
  • Resource is written directly for and to students. Teachers act as facilitators only
  • Excellent background information, relevant case studies, exemplars and graphic organizers
  • Exemplars are included for action research
  • Excellent data collection sheets for the the storm water audit
  • Students use an on-line tool to map the area of the audit, and a tutorial for using the on-line Google Maps Engine is included in the guide
  • Students become connected to what environmental stewardship means and the resource provides a real world context for examining and resolving problems.
  • Provides experiential learning opportunities.
  • Excellent documents and graphic organizers provided for all stages of the service learning project for organizing, communicating and reflecting on ideas and information
  • Great suggestions for action and for sharing information about storm water runoff.
  • Glossary of terms provided
  • Strong action opportunities which promote community awareness
  • Helps students form concepts, beliefs and attitudes
  • Demonstrates effectively the complexities that characterizes environmental issues

Weaknesses

  • Teachers will need to create all assessment tools
  • Project is time intensive
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling learners

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This project could be used to enrich science classes addressing outcomes related to water quality, water pollution, sustainable ecosystems and waste reduction. It could also enhance geography and social studies courses that study the impacts of human activity and urbanization on the planet, and to teach how to take action to solve social and environmental problems. After school eco-clubs could use this as a community improvement project as well.

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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        • Introduction to Spacial Technologies: (Open):Using Spacial technologies to Support Sustainability and Stewardship
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        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Geography: Urban Patterns & Populations (Univ. / College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
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        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • Biology 521A: Biodiversity
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        • Environmental Science 621A: Ecological Principles
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        • Contemporary World: Environment
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        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
  • Yukon Territory
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        • Water Systems on Earth
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        • Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
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        • Processes of Science
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        • Earth Sciences :Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere
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        • Science Module: Natural Resources and the Environment
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
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        • Geography 12: Resources and Environmental Sustainability

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (2)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Sustainable Urbanization
  • Waste Management (1)

    • Liquid Waste
  • Water (2)

    • Water Cycle
    • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students gather facts through research and investigation and make their own conclusions.

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
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

The resource encourages open-end solutions and relates environmental issues to the complexities of human activity.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

The resource serves as a step by step manual for planning and implementing an  action plan.

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 Satisfactory
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

This resource emphasizes the importance of citizen science and the message is "stormwater matters because the planet matters.

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

Students create action plans to reduce the effects of storm water run off in their own school yard.

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 Good
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

Students are encouraged to consider and develop their own thoughts and opinions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Although primarily a science resource, there are opportunities to address outcomes in geography and social studies. The focus of the resource is the development of the action plan and the lines between subject boundaries are definitely blurred.

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
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 accommodations suggested for students with learning difficulties. The resource has a wide variety of activities including exploring various research techniques, experiential out-of-doors learning, using concept maps, creating videos, pamphlets and brochures, writing letters and proposals for action, and participating in various types of presentations.

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
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 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

Although reflection questions are provided, it is up to the teacher to design assessment tools.

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
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

Relevant and varied case studies are used throughout the resource. They are relevant to the purpose of each stage and will help students make connections and send their own action plan in an appropriate direction.

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 Very 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.