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The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds

Elementary

Description

The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds models children asking questions about the natural world and conducting science investigations to explore the world around them. This classroom resource introduces environmental education  to students at a very young age through the use of a science- based storybook featuring inquiry activities.  The story's characters wonder why the ruby-throated hummingbirds have stopped visiting the school garden. The kids conduct an investigation, learning more about the needs of the ruby-throated hummingbirds and the seasonal changes that characterize where they live. Their investigation also explores the natural environment of Costa Rica where the hummingbirds spend the winter.

The teaching resource consists of a storybook and three activities.

  • All Year Long - Students will be able to describe the seasonal changes in a local habitat by making detailed observations, recording their results, making comparisons, and sharing information with others. 
  • The Colors of the Seasons - Students make observations outside during each season, recording as many colors as they can find. At the end of the school year they compare results and generate conclusions about variations in color within and between seasons.
  • Honing in on Hummingbirds - Students will be able to complete a research project related to ruby-throated hummingbirds and communicate their results using different formats.

The classroom resource includes teacher background information, text and web resources and supplementary activities to be used as a comprehensive unit or individually.

 

 

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The resource and lesson plans are easy to use.
  • The resource contains good background information for the teacher and student.
  • The activities are age-appropriate and can be adapted for other levels.
  • The activity encourages students to share their ideas and personal opinions.

Weaknesses

  • Include opportunities for students to share their learning.
  • Need to include an age-appropriate action component.
  • Include some Canadian case studies
  • Incorporate social connections to the environmental theme

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Scientific inquiry skills such as communicating, recording, observing, questioning, reporting

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Shape & Space
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Habitats & Communities
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Aboriginal Cultures, Exploration, and Contact: Human & Physical Environment

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • The resource demonstrates how environmental education can be introduced to students at a very young age through the use of science-based activities. The experiments allow the students to draw their own conclusions based on the information they gather in the classroom. Students are not influenced to any particular 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 Satisfactory
  • The resource addresses the environmental issues using an age-appropriate approach but does not directly address the economic or social dimensions.

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
  • Students conduct an investigation to learn about the needs of ruby-throated hummingbirds and the seasonal changes that characterize where they live. They investigate where the hummingbirds go after leaving their garden.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
  •  Action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the core activities.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • 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 Very Good
  • Students describe the seasonal changes in a local habitat by making detailed observations, recording their results, making comparisons, and sharing information with others.

  • Students explain how colours in nature relate to their local environment and to seasonal changes within that environment.

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 participate in activities which take place in their local environment.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
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 storybook and accompanying learning activities provide students with opportunities to engage in scientific inquiry. Students raise questions about the world around them, gather evidence through many types of investigations including observing and doing experiments.

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
  • Science
  • Math
  • Art
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
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
  • Students raise questions about the world around them, gather evidence and conduct experiments.

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 resource recognizes that cognitive development as well as ability and skills of students in the K-4 age range  widely. Kindergarten teachers will use the resource very differently than will those teaching grades three or four. Teachers may choose an approach that best suit their students' needs.

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
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made concrete. Working with real objects,  using real sources of information
  • Good: learning takes place in a real-world context. Simulation, mentorship
  • Very good: learning provides experience beyond the classroom.  Addressing real world issues and problems 
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students work in 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 Satisfactory
  • Reflection questions are provided
  • Journal suggestions are 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
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 section entitled Teacher's Notes provides a case study of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.
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 resource provides a section entitled Further Investigations to enhance the theme.
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.