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Sustainable Economics Lesson Plan

Secondary, Middle

Description

This resource focuses on the concept of responsible purchasing and sustainable consumption. By analyzing the production, consumption and disposal of everyday items, students make connections between product choices and social, economic and environmental impacts. Through this experience, students develop a sense of environmental responsibility. A brief description of the lessons-

After exploring what students know about how products are manufactured and disposed of they are given an item of clothing and asked to reflect on a series of questions focusing on its life cycle. They are then given posters of a soccer ball and cell phone and asked to create timelines that show the production, consumption, and disposal sequence of each. They must include information on how much energy, water, and waste is involved in the lifetime of the product.

After sharing and discussing their findings with classmates, groups are given WW backgrounders on chocolate, coffee, paper, clothing, and soap and asked to draw Venn Diagrams to show the relationship among money, people and the environment for each item. Positive and negative points are highlighted in different colors. Summary discussions are used to encourage students to consider sustainable practices and principles when purchasing products in the future.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Interpreting trends and patterns in data
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Identifying further problems or issues to be investigated
  • Selecting and integrating information
  • Making oral presentations
  • Inferring and explaining relationships

Strengths

  • Topic is relevant and important
  • Resource provides many useful links for extra information, lesson plans, and games
  • Has a local focus
  • Has a multidisciplinary content
  • Resource is easy to use
  • Student friendly backgrounders are provided to assist with exploring prior knowledge
  • Demonstartes systems thinking
  • Links personal choices with environmental impacts

Weaknesses

  • Statistics will need to be updated by the teacher.
  • Assessment tools are lacking
  • No experiential learning opportunities are provided
  • No specific accommodations are suggested for struggling learners

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Waste Management (2)

    • Cradle-to-Cradle
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The resource aims to increase awareness of the negative environmental impacts of certain consumer product choices, and the emphasis is on this point of view.

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 makes connections between consumer purchasing and the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the product choices.

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 Satisfactory

Although not examining all aspects of this issue, the resource aims to provide young students with context for understanding the rippling effect of their choices.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Walking the talk provides students with an effective and meaningful opportunity to act on the principle themes of this lesson. It is however presented as a suggestion only.

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 Satisfactory
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 Satisfactory

Although there is no out-of-doors experience, students are encouraged to take care of their planet.

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

The resource examines the cradle to grave impact of products that are used by and popular with students.

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

Current situations are discussed with an emphasis on the negative environmental impacts of over consumption. The resource encourages students to make more sustainable choices in the future with regards to personal product purchases.

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

The life cycle exercises allow students to draw their own conclusions about  the environmental impacts of the purchase of these goods. There are opportunities for student to link  their own experience and suggest possible solutions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Although primarily a social studies and science resource, there are some learning opportunities in language arts art, and mathematics.

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
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

The resource teaches to both the cognitive and affective domains. Appropriate groupings should facilitate successful learning opportunities.  There are no specific suggestions for accommodation.

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 Poor/Not considered

Poor- there are no experiential learning opportunities.

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

Poor- teachers must develop all 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 Good

The life cycles of the products are well detailed and presented. The cell phone life cycle poster, however, MUST be updated.

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 Satisfactory

Students may be motivated to go deeper into this issue, due the "personal" nature of the products discussed

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.