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Water & Biodiversity: Cleaning Up our Act

Middle, Secondary

Description

Water and Diversity: Cleaning up our act is intended to raise awareness of the impact humans have had on aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, they are intended to make students aware of the conservation efforts that are ongoing in their communities, and to inspire hope and encourage action towards the protection of our critically important freshwater resources.

The grade six lesson plans focus on the case study of the Jefferson Salamander in Halton Region, Ontario. This tiny amphibian must cross a busy roadway to travel to the temporary (vernal) pool where it breeds and lays its eggs each spring. Due in part to high mortality experienced crossing roadways; the Jefferson Salamander is considered a Species at Risk. The case study explores the successful collaboration between a Conservation Authority (Conservation Halton), the City of Burlington and local citizens to close a busy commuter road during breeding season and protect the Jefferson Salamander. In preparation for their own town hall meeting about the issue, students will explore the diverse species that rely on fleeting vernal pools to breed, feed, and survive. Students will also build a model of a vernal pool. 

The grade nine lessons use local case studies featuring degraded aquatic ecosystems that have been restored by partnerships between landowners and the Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program. The students use the case studies as a starting point for some investigative reporting as well as the development and implementation of their own stewardship activity in the community.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Doing a jigsaw activity
  • Building a model of a vernal pool
  • How to abide by rules in a meeting
  • Understanding how town meetings work and the challenges that lie within making decisions
  • Taking part in a debate

Strengths

  • A glossary of terms is provided
  • Every lesson is extremely well explained and all activities are complete
  • All reproductibles are included in the resources
  • Curriculum expectation and learning goals for the lesson are clearly enumerated
  • Cross-curricular connections are clear in the resource
  • Assessments, whether formal are not,  are provided for each lesson
  • Differentiated instruction for all type of learners are provided in the lesson
  • Real life case studies are used
  • Websites and media pieces are available for student support

Weaknesses

  • The data used is specific to Ontario

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource is a great way to build understanding of the concept of biodiversity in Science classes, students will also need to make graphs, and present their data so it is a good way to incorporate Math data outcomes. Also, this resource connects well to English outcomes in grades 6-9.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Manage Ideas and Information
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  • Ontario
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  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 6
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    • Grade 6
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  • Yukon Territory
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    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Arts Education: Visual Arts
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Oral Language (Speaking and Listening)
        • Reading and Viewing
        • Writing and Representing
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data from the results of an experiment can be used to predict the theoretical probability of an event and to compare and interpret
        • Linear relations can be identified and represented using expressions with variables and line graphs and can be used to form generalizations
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Arts Education: Visual Arts
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Oral Language (Speaking and Listening
        • Reading and Viewing
        • Writing and Representing
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Linear relations can be represented in many connected ways to identify regularities and make generalizations
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Earth and its climate have changed over geological time
        • Science 7: Evolution by natural selection provides an explanation for the diversity and survival of living things.
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing data by determining averages is one way to make sense of large data sets and enables us to compare and interpret
        • Discrete linear relationships can be represented in many connected ways and used to identify and make generalizations
      • Visual Art
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Visual Arts: Context (Creating/Communicating)
        • Visual Arts: Image -Development & Design Strategies (Creating/Communicating)
        • Visual Arts: Materials, Technologies & Processes (Creating/Communicating)
        • Visual Arts: Visual Elements & Principles of Art & Design (Creating/Communicating)
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret.
        • Continuous linear relationships can be identified and represented in many connected ways to identify regularities and make generalizations
      • Visual Art
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Visual Arts: Image-Development and Design Strategies
        • Visual Arts: Materials, Technologies & Processes
        • Visual Arts: Visual Elements and Principles of Art & Design

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (4)

    • Biodiversity
    • Endangered Species
    • Habitat Loss
    • Wildlife Protection
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Habitat Restoration

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The wide array of reflection questions and discussions of this lesson makes students aware of all points of views regarding the issues and they form their own opinions from the facts collected. 

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 Very Good

In this resource, students will be learning about water stewardship which is the use of freshwater that is socially and economically beneficial as well as environmentally sustainable.

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 Very Good
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The lesson contains the option to extend the learning by allowing students to use their research, articles, and stewardship projects as a starting point for launching a campaign to inform the student body about environmental issues in their community.

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 Very Good

The activities give students the opportunity to reflect on their own values as they present several questions of reflection. In addition, students will participate in a mock town meeting where they will be able to express their values and beliefs. 

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 will foster appreciation for the natural world through the visit of vernal pools or wetlands. If none are available close to the school, they will understand the importance of human impact on biodiversity through case studies. 

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 get to go outside in their schoolyard to find natural objects they can work into their picture/ diorama to make it more realistic and three dimensional. 

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 Very Good

During this lesson, students will get to see how human behavior has impacted biodiversity and will try to come up with solutions to help for the future. 

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 Very Good

Students are encouraged to share their opinion and take a stand on human behavior that is affecting biodiversity. 

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

From this lesson plan, one is able to easily cover elements of Science and Technology, Visual Arts, Mathematics and 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
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 Very Good

This resource has a variety of activities that meets the needs of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. Each lesson is equipped with a differentiated instruction part and gives ideas as to how to meet the needs for all learners, even those with difficulties. 

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

Students will build a vernal pool using materials collected outside, and take part in a mock of a town meeting. 

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 Good

Students work in teams and even share their knowledge with other students.

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 Very Good

Excellent assessment tools, whether formal or informal are provided to check students learning. Some rubrics are also provided. 

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 Good

Students must teach small group learnings to their classmates.

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

These lessons are intended to support and deepen student understanding of the concept of biodiversity through the use of case studies. 

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

Students get to choose how to represent their vernal pool and what solutions they want to investigate deeper. 

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.