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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 important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

  • Enhancing environmental awareness of the Earth

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
Bias Minimization 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.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
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:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

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 problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Satisfactory
  •  Action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the core activities.
Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Poor/Not considered
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
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: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Very Good
  • Students participate in activities which take place in their local environment.
Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
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.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Very Good
  • Science
  • Math
  • Art
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Good
  • Students raise questions about the world around them, gather evidence and conduct experiments.

Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
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 learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Good
Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
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 used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine 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.