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Toxic Technology

Middle

Description

  • This is a lesson in consumerism and recycling. Students examine what they know about old computer recycling before reading and discussing an article that looks at some of the problems associated with current computer recycling practices.
  • Research to find out what computers are made of and reporting on how specific parts of the computer can be safely reused or recycled is the second student component.
  • Finally, students write a persuasive essay to educate local businesses and organizations on potential dangers of disposing computers and need for proper computer recycling programs.
  • Ideas for additional extension activities and interdisciplinary connections are included.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • No skills are directly taught.

Strengths

  • The lesson is logically sequenced and easy to follow.
  • A link to the article is provided.
  • The lesson gets students thinking about the consequences of consumer actions.

Weaknesses

  • The article used for reference is written through an American lens.
  • The lesson is not created to provide for student learning strengths, self-direction or action research.

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (1)

    • Poverty Reduction
  • Waste Management (3)

    • Hazardous Waste
    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • The authors are pro responsible-recycling.
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
  • Students are introduced to more values associated with computer recycling than they were previously familiar with.
  • Solutions are not posed outright; students must generate them on their own.
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
  • The reasons why third world nations accept old computers needs examination.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
  • Students are encouraged to distribute their letters to the community.
  • None of the extension activities provided are action oriented.
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
  • Students are provided some time for personal exploration during the discussion and the group work, but are told what their position must be in the final assignment.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • The people who use toxic material are reported on rather than them reporting to students.
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
  • Earth health is central to the issue at hand, but getting out-of-doors is not an aspect of the lesson.
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 Satisfactory
  • Nearly everybody uses computers, but, unfortunately, the article has an American lens.
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
  • The article presents a sense of the present.
  • A future vision could be generated to some degree through student research, the letter writing activities, and through group discussion.
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 Satisfactory
  • A combination of structured inquiry with an open inquiry investigation.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory
  • There are connections to other curriculum areas, but it is predominantly a social studies lesson.
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 Poor/Not considered
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 Poor/Not considered
  • The work depends on good reading and writing ability. Adaptations are not provided.
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
  • Students conduct research to find out what their computers are made of. Outdoor learning is not part of the lesson.
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
  • Students research in groups and discuss in large 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
  • What will be assessed is stated; however, assessment strategies are absent.
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
  • Students share their own knowledge and research findings with the whole group and potentially with community stakeholders.
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 article used is American-focused, but applies widely to western consumers in general.
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
  • The lesson is teacher-driven with the exeption of where to find the research information and how and what to report back.
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.