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Thirsty Planet; World Water Lessons

Secondary, Middle

Description

  • The purpose of Thirsty Planet is to enhance students’ awareness of the distribution and value of clean drinking water. Students will develop critical views about managing and sustaining this vital resource.
  • The material is suitable for grades 4 to 8 but may need adaptations for grade 4.

The unit includes:

  • a very thorough teacher’s background guide chalk full of information regarding fresh water and descriptions of the activities and activity handouts (springboard style)
  • a sample reference guide online, as well as print and multimedia resources and field trip opportunities
  • a detailed water glossary for students and teachers
  • a CD-ROM that includes a detailed index, links to ministry-prescribed learning
  • outcomes, photos, additional resources for both teachers and students and a copy of the printed unit

There are a total of 12 easy to use and understand, springboard activities. Each includes goals, materials, instructions and handouts ready to photocopy :

1. Water Quiz - Self test – introductory activity, 20 min
2. Pools of knowledge - Class brainstorm and discussion - knowledge inventory, 1 hr
3. Water Meter - Personal consumption chart – personal tracking, 1.5 hrs over the week
4. Water Challenges – Reading and crossword – world water challenges and BC’s supply, 1.5 hrs
5. Water Outreach – Field trip, guest speaker, or interviews – direct experiences, time varies
6. Water Around the World – Using data to create country profiles – compiling information, 2hrs
7. Waterton River – Water pollution board game – learn about pollution reduction and democracy, 2hrs
8. Is Bottled Better Than Tap – Discussion – uses the inner circle/outer circle organization, 2.5 hrs
9. Water Case Studies – Writing assignment – read about, internalize, share and write, 2hrs
10. Water Facts Cartoon – Wrap-Up Art Assignment – review of topics, 1hr
11. Taking Action – Student Projects – Teaching action tools and using them, 2+hrs
12. Water Quiz Take Two – Self-test retake – reflection on learning, 45 min.

The accompanying CD-Rom contains:

1. BC Ministry of Education Learning Outcomes
2. JPEG photos, in black and white or colour, slide show
3. Resources

  • Printable bottled water analysis sheet that gives instructions for beginning and marking the inner circle outer circle discussion
  • Printable instruction sheet for reading a water meter
  • Printable plain crossword grid
  • A printable organizer for the retell, relate, reflect activity in activity
  • Six printable cartooning sheets to help with drawing and organizing for activity 10

4. Research

  • Printable analysis of the pros and cons of drinking water
  • Printable maps and data for both the Fraser and Mackenzie Watersheds in BC
  • Printable statistics on water by country
  • Printable visual tool for teaching about water in a typical city
  • Printable UN booklet on the water decade 005-2015
  • Printable BC Government report on BC drinking water health
  • Printable Federal Government report on Water

5. A complete, printable copy of the unit

 

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The resource is well researched and informative and offers a huge collection of recommended resources to supplement the activities provided.
  • The CD-Rom picture set is exceptional as are the case studies.
  • The CD-Rom includes a dearth of information from a variety of sources including the UN.
  • The open-endedness combined with the prepared student handouts provides for both flexibility and ease of use.
  • The resource provides learner guides for taking responsible action.

Weaknesses

  • There are no hard copies of the resources and research included on the CD-Rom in the purchased guidebook.

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

  • Canada has a responsibility to act as a steward over fresh drinking water.
  • Water is under-valued in the West.
  • Canada and the U.S. need to use water more responsibly.
  • Students can successfully create the changes they want to see in the world.
  • Water is connected to many other world issues, such as poverty and global warming.
  • Educating is also about taking action.
  • Meat for food is not an efficient use of water.
  • Protected, respected watersheds are a community/world asset.

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    • Grade 10

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Air Pollution
  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Governance (2)

    • Democracy
    • Government Regulations
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Health Promotion
  • Water (4)

    • Privatization & Sale of Water
    • Water Quality
    • Water Treatment and Distribution
    • Water Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Very Good
  • The letter to teacher and the backgrounder state CoDev’s position succinctly.
Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good
  • The teacher backgrounder provides information on the scope of the issue.
  • The student activities, when accompanied by the teacher information and research, explore most aspects of the problem and some possible solutions.
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 Very Good
  • The problem is presented in a global, scientific, factual way.
  • Solutions take on a local focus because Canada minds 25% of the world’s fresh water.
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Very Good
  • Many of the individual activities have a student-directed action component built in.
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 Very Good
  • Students are directly taught strategies for taking action such as planning and lobbying through the activities.
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good
  • Consultation occurred with many sub-groups throughout the preparation of the resource.
  • Information is presented respectfully.
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
  • The resource encourages teachers to take students to drinking water sources for a field trip.
  • The CD-ROM offers a first-rate photo tour that stirs the soul.
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 and teachers are encouraged to access local experts and facilities.
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 Very Good
  • The facts are presented to students so that they can envision possible futures with and without action.
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
  • A combination of structured, open, and guided inquiry and investigation.
  • Teachers are left to determine the direction they want their students to move in, but there are also opportunities provided for research.
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 Good
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 Poor/Not considered
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 Very Good
  • Through the statistical information on drinking water available to students, they will be required to reassess their understanding, beliefs and attitudes.
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 Very Good
  • Much will ultimately be determined by the teacher, but there are opportunities in this open-ended resource to plan for different students' strengths and learning styles.
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 Very Good
  • It will be important to include field-trips, interviews and guest speakers in the unit as suggested in activity five.
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 Very Good
  • Most of the activities provide opportunity for students to work in teams. This is always left to the teacher to determine.
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
  • Students have many opportunities to demonstrate knowledge.
  • The unit provides one summative assessment rubric for the inner/outer circle discussion and it also includes a key to the water quiz for formative assessment.
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 Very Good
  • Most of the activities provide for opportunities to work in teams where students can exchange knowledge and understanding. This is always left to the teacher to determine.
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 Very Good
  • The written case studies for activity 9 are exceptional.
  • The pictures on the CD-ROM (also photocopied in the guide) offer a wide range of scenarios that include local, as well as global, scenes.
  • Solutions are not presented along with the pictures but they will serve to facilitate discussions in which solutions could be a focus.
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 Very Good
  • Students can make choices in their action plans and in their research.
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.