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Saving the Monarch

Elementary

Description

This well-planned resource uses the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly to introduce the learners to the concepts of environmental stewardship and community service.  Students discover how planting milkweed to help the butterflies is considered an act of philanthropy.  

In the first lesson a story, a class discussion and a brainstorming activity are used to demonstrate the meanings of land stewardship and philanthropy.  Students learn about the special relationship between the Milkweed plant and the Monarch.  Students also label the four stages of the life cycle of the Monarch.

The second lesson builds on the first by having students listen and respond to a reading about the life cycle and migratory behavior of a butterfly. They demonstrate their understanding of butterfly metamorphosis by using pasta to represent the four stages of the Monarch's life cycle.

In the third lesson the students demonstrate what they have learned about the Monarch and take action in their community by raising money to purchase milkweed plants. The plants are then given to individuals who agree to establish a milkweed garden in support of the Monarch.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource explicitly teaches students to analyze their ecological footprints.  They discover the importance of preserving the monarch butterfly by becoming philanthropists and by planting a garden for the butterflies.  

Strengths

The unit is well planned, and very student and teacher friendly.

It integrates several subject areas and provides discovery and experiential learning approaches.

It teaches younger students that they too can become philanthropists and it provides a very doable action plan for younger students.

Weaknesses

Overall the unit has few weaknesses. 

Older students in the school could be encouraged to help out the younger students.  

Although mention is made to refer to websites for further research, the level of most of information might be a challenge for younger children.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Endangered Species
    • Habitat Loss
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (2)

    • Habitat Restoration
    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This resource presents a positive bias in regards to the need to protect the Monarch butterfly species. Through readings from various books and background information different points of view are presented.

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

Although this unit is primarily for younger learners different dimensions of problems and solutions are addressed.  For example, the importance of monarch butterfly gardens addresses the environmental dimension.  Learning about philanthropy and how to become a responsible citizen address the social dimension of the 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

The structure of the lessons in the unit respects the complexity of problems involved in preserving the monarch butterfly.  The lessons are designed to provide the necessary information and involve students in community action culminating in a plan to plant butterfly gardens.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

Raising money and planting the gardens with support from families and the community provide a very good action experience for the students.

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 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

The planting of the gardens will be taking place out-of-doors.  

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 Good

These lessons will be relevant to any community in which Monarchs are found.

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 background information provides an understanding of the past.  The reading of the books and researching the life cycles of the butterfly address the present and planting the gardens is a positive step 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 Satisfactory

The lessons are structured to include discussion and reflection as well as hands-on activities to allow for 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 Good

An integrated approach is used in this unit. Language Arts incorporates the reading of stories, discussion and reflection, Science includes the study of the life cycles and the migration of the monarch butterfly.  Art activities include drawing the monarch and Social Studies lessons include learning about philanthropy and how to become a more responsible citizen.

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 Good

The structure of the unit allows for all students to proceed at their own pace.  A variety of activity types will appeal to a range of learning styles.

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

Participating in philanthropy and planting a garden for the butterflies are direct and authentic experiences related to the goals of the unit.

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

The students do some of their work in the unit in smaller groups.

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

In the first lesson the assessment is based on the teacher's observation of the students' ability to show the four stages of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.  In the second lesson a rubric is provided to evaluate the sequencing of the stages of the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. Older learners will write a paragraph about the life cycle of the butterfly. In the third lesson the assessment is teacher observation during class discussion and reflection.

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

There are opportunities for older students to work with the younger ones although it is not suggested in the unit.

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 Poor/Not considered

Specific case studies are not cited in this unit although valuable information is provided in the background materials and websites listed in the resource.

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

The lessons in this unit contain service project examples, however it is suggested that decisions about service plans and their implementation are best made by the students.

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.