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Sea of Plastic

Marine Plastic Pollution

Elementary, Middle, Secondary

Description

Students explore the issue of marine plastic pollution including sources, distribution and impact on the environment. Special attention is paid to how macro and micro plastics affect wildlife and what actions students can take as individuals to help mitigate the damage caused.

Activities include:

• Conducting a lunchtime trash survey

• A mapping exercise that links world population growth, plastics and ocean pollution

• Viewing and discussing a video overview of marine plastic pollution

• Creating a class gallery of individual literary or graphic presentations of their understanding of the problem

• Brainstorming possible actions to reduce the use of plastics and help mitigate the damage caused

Students are encouraged to implement their action ideas within their own community.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • building consensus
  • presentation skills

Strengths

  • The resource addresses an important issue relevant to the curriculum for grades 4 through 8
  • The resource includes a variety of engaging and effective learning activities
  • The resource encourages students to develop and express their own values regarding the issue of marine plastic pollution
  • The resource is up to date
  • The resource provides students with all of the necessary tools to complete the core activities successfully.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource will provide a solid introduction to the causes and consequences of plastics in the world's oceans and in doing so will support curriculum objectives in a variety of science courses for grades 4-8.  It does a good job connecting students to the issue and will serve as an effective prelude to an action project. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students gather information from reliable sources.  Emphasis is placed on developing and sharing individual points of view regarding the issue of marine pollution. 

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

Activities require students to consider the various causes and impacts of plastics in our oceans and provide opportunities to employ a systems-thinking analysis. 

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 video, infographic and discussion guidelines present an appropriate representation of the complexity of the issue. 

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Student consideration of individual action is included in the core activities. Implementation is suggested as an extension to the learning.  

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 Very Good

The resource includes activities that require students to identify, clarify and express their own feelings about the issue of marine plastic pollution.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
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

All of the activities raise awareness of and promote concern for the natural world. 

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 Poor/Not considered
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 Satisfactory

Students will gain some appreciation for the role of increasing population and consumption over time in the acceleration of plastic marine pollution. 

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 collect and analyze their own data and gather additional information from trustworthy sources.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

The content and process objectives offered in this resource address outcomes in science, social studies and citizenship education.

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 Satisfactory

The resource begins with an inquiry activity to determine the amount of trash generated by individuals and how much of that trash could impact the marine environment.

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 activities offer different instructional approaches including inquiry, video analysis, discussion, collaboration, reflection, creative expression and action. 

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

There are a number of activities that involve learning in a real world context.

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 Poor/Not considered

There is little explicit emphasis on the elements of cooperative learning.

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

Assessment tools have not been included.

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

The Gallery Walk activity offers an opportunity for students to take responsibility for educating others. 

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
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

Students select their own project topics and methods. They are encouraged to implement their action ideas within the larger community. 

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.