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Reusable Bags (Elementary/Middle)

Elementary, Middle

Description

Reusable Bags is a series of interesting activities through which students  become acquainted with the concept of reusing.  The resource emphasizes reducing and reusing over recycling.  Students take action to decrease the number of plastic bags in circulation by constructing their own reusable bags using old clothing items.

 

 

Reusable Bags includes an introduction and is divided into four parts: preparatory activities, a bag-making day, follow-up activities and further opportunities for promoting reuse.  The resource also offers an appendix that provides both background information and directions to a number of related resources.

These activities can take place at any time during the year.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

With access to the toolbox on the r4r.ca website, cooperative learning and values clarification strategies would be explicitly taught.  Through discussion and reflection students learn to build consensus.

Strengths

This Reusable Bags resource has succeeded in covering all of the issues and ideas to explore the importance of reducing and reusing over recycling.  The activities are interesting and thought provoking.  The students have many opportunities to be fully engaged in the activities which are inquiry based and integrate several curriculum areas.  There is good background information provided and a good list of additional resources.

Weaknesses

No mention of inviting individuals to speak about waste management or artists who use recyclable materials in their work.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Waste Management (1)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The resource provides a positive bias with well researched background information from many sources to support the importance of reusing over recycling.

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

The resource includes the positive effect of reusable bags on the environment.  Statistics and data are provided to explain the economic impact of using reusable bags.   The impact of reusing demonstrates how to be more socially responsible.

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 provides opportunities to analyze a life cycle of a bag.  It includes a discovery of bio degradation.  Several opportunities are presented for promoting reuse through three action plans.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

In part D of the resource three activities are presented to involve the students in authentic action experiences.  One is a clothing swap, another is emphasizing reuse, reuse and reuse.  The third is organizing a campaign to promote reusing.

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

Through the open-ended activities and discussions and cooperative learning activities students have many opportunities to clarify and express their own beliefs and values.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not considered in this resource.

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

There is an opportunity within the resource for students to work outside and to collect data for the reusing project.  Also the campaign to promote reuse can take place outside as well.  Suggestions are made to promote the campaign by organizing a barbecue and showcasing reusable items and things made by the students from reusable materials.

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

By researching the local school and community and using the information and materials to engage in the activities would be locally-focused and would be relevant to the lives of the learners.

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

The research and information exploration as well as the background information would provide ample understanding of the past as well as the present.  Engaging in activities in the present would provide the necessary impetus for further action and the action plans would create a positive vision for the future.

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

The research, discussion and discovery learning activities provide students with opportunities to explore more than one 'right' answer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Very Good

The activities are structured to integrate core curriculum subjects as well as creative elements with sustainable principles.

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 are structured to allow students to discover and build knowledge for themselves.  This is provided by the surveys they can conduct, the experiments, the life cycle analysis and reflection. 

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 Good

The cooperative learning strategies and adaptation of some of the activities are all for a range of learning styles.  Peer teaching and working with partners would help students with learning difficulties.

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

The theme, activities, and action plans facilitate direct and authentic experiences.

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

Reference is made to the toolbox provided on the r4r.ca website where cooperative learning skills and strategies are available for teaching and practicing.

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

Assessment options are stated where applicable with reference to monitoring student's pair share work, progress of the school reuse/waste audit worksheet, reflections in the green journal, life cycle analysis, rubrics and trivia quizzes.

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

Students have opportunities to present information to each other, to their teachers and the community when organizing their campaign.

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

Case studies are embedded in the references to websites as well as in the background information in Appendix A.

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

As these activities are for a range of the learner's ages there is  choice available for them to delve deeoer into the subject matter.  Also if the unit is presented as an inquiry-based project then it provides more opportunities for expansion.

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.