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Yellow Fish Road (Elementary/Middle)

Elementary, Middle, Secondary

Description

The Yellow Fish Road resource connects young people from all across the country who care about clean water preservation. The program helps youth to educate fellow community members about their water supply, the impact of water pollution on the health of a community and the need to protect our watersheds. In this project, students paint yellow fish on storm drains in school neighbourhoods and distribute fish hangers to homes in order to raise awareness of the importance of the proper disposal of hazardous wastes.

Students will learn about:

  • the water cycle
  • watersheds and how human activities affect them
  • some of the ways in which humans are polluting their environment
  • the impact of pollution on human, animal and ecological health
  • how to complete an action project that raises awareness and changes human behaviours that affect water quality

     

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • building consensus
  • establishing shared priorities for completing an action project
  • door-to-door canvassing
  • how to assess the amount of water one uses on a daily/weekly basis

Strengths

  • The resource is up-to-date and informative, interesting and potentially very empowering and inspiring for students and community alike.
  • The resource teaches how the water cycle works and how humans can negatively impact it.
  • Students learn how to assess their own water use and how to educate others about the hazards of water pollution.
  • Activities are pedagogically sound (such as the mind-map and simulations) and engaging -students are actively involved.
  • The resource is clearly presented, organized and explained, learning outcomes are presented and there is a variety of pre- and post-activity lessons and extensions.
  • There is a good quantity and quality of background information and resources available for the teacher. LSF and Cadbury Schweppes collectively provide extensive support for completing the module (through in-person, phone and internet support).

Weaknesses

  • Economic implications of having clean, accessible drinking water are not adequately addressed.
  • The materials list for the Yellow Fish Road activity are not clearly presented at the very beginning of the overall activity - this would be more useful than having to read through every activity to make sure you have all of the necessary materials.
  • No case studies are included.
  • While many of the activities are group-oriented, other than for building consensus and choosing projects, no cooperative or group learning strategies are discussed. It is up to the teacher to facilitate this, and while most teachers would do this automatically, it would be useful to have a few strategies provided.

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Pesticides
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Waste Management (2)

    • Hazardous Waste
    • Liquid Waste
  • Water (4)

    • Water Cycle
    • Water Quality
    • Water Treatment and Distribution
    • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The resource encourages students to examine toxic chemicals, particularly in their home and the variety of ways that humans impact water supplies.  Emphasis is on waste disposal in the home.  Not much attention is given to industrial polluting of water sources, although teachers can introduce this in the first activity.

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 focuses on the ecological (environmental) and health related (social) aspects of water quality.  There are ethical and aesthetic dimensions which the students are encouraged to consider. The economic (and political) aspects can be investigated but the resource does not provide specific guidelines.

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

While the complexity of issues is respected, the resource would benefit from a consideration of why humans pollute as much as they do.  There are obstacles to disposing of pollutants responsibly or using non-polluting approaches, such as the cost of treating industrial waste-water or farming without using pesticides and herbicides.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good
  • Students are provided with the conceptual background regarding how humans are negatively affecting marine and freshwater environments and some of the implications. 
  • Students do a Home Audit of chemicals in their own households and consider/change to environmentally friendly alternatives.
  • The students then pursue an action project in which they educate their community on how to become better stewards of the environment. 
  • Students are also shown how to track their own water usage and are encouraged to make a commitment to use water responsibly.
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
  • After many of the activities, students either complete a personal journal entry or participate in a classroom discussion to share their learning.
  • Students are encouraged to explore and consider their values and beliefs, and to make any lifestyle changes they feel would help make a difference to their use of water, and potential pollutants.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Poor

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 complete activities that lead them to understand how earth's water system works, human relationships to that system and how we can become effective and caring stewards of water.  The resource includes a combination of both indoor and outdoor activities.

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 examine their own local watersheds and how their personal actions affect those watersheds.  The action project educates people in the students' surrounding community.

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
  • There is no specific attention given to the past with regard to pollution although the teacher can facilitate a discussion on what the local area was like "before people".
  • With regard to the present, students survey their own relationship to water and commit to becoming better stewards which addresses the future - in having healthy water supplies.
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
  • Students are either presented with scientific facts or the opportunity to complete their own research so that they can understand the water cycle and our relationship to it. 
  • Students research various pollutants and a variety of alternatives to become familiar with their impact on the environment.  Using models or direct experience (such as a trip to a local water way, or water treatment plant) students can draw their own conclusions about human impact on water. 
  • Again, the focus of the module is on hazardous household waste and water.  There is not a lot of attention to other causes of water pollution.
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
  • Students learn about the water cycle and how ecological systems such as a watershed function. 
  • They examine how humans and animals affect and are affected by the health of water systems.
  • There are strong applications to many subjects throughout the resource as students are required to research, explore, record and describe and present information both graphically and literally.
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 Very Good

Students complete mind-maps along with models, simulation and research activities that are all inquiry-based.  Students are encouraged to reflect on their findings in personal journals and share opinions during group discussions.

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
  • Some activities are more research-based (such as the house-hold pollutants lesson) where students complete their own research while other activities have students building models and creating simulations. 
  • The Yellow Fish Road painting activity offers opportunities for all students to be outside meeting members of the community and painting at storm drains as well as possibly interacting with activity volunteers.
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 Very Good
  • The students complete the valuable task of educating the general public about the hazards of household toxic waste on ecosystems.
  • The students also perform their own audit of what is in their home - empowering them to educate their family and suggest friendly alternatives.
  • They make a lasting imprint on their community with the painting of the yellow fish symbol.
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 complete activities in groups although no cooperative strategies are explicitly taught (except how to reach consensus in a group and choose an action project).

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 complete personal reflections and participate in group discussions for some activities. 
  • They also paint a mural that demonstrates their understanding of water use.  
  • Students can help co-construct a rubric (suggestions provided for the teacher) for the evaluation of their model.
  • They do not self assess, however, nor do they complete an activity in which they demonstrate their individual knowledge of the water cycle.
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

In the street-painting activity, students are actively sharing their knowledge during conversations with community members.  Students are also encouraged to pursue classroom visits or school-wide assemblies.  No aspect of the activity allows for on-going mentorship.

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 Poor/Not considered

Poor

  • It is expected that the teacher provides local information of the watershed area of the community.
  • No case studies are included although there are certainly many relevant examples/case studies that could be a part of the module.
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 activities in the module are structured and scripted.  While students might pursue areas of personal interest during the website research in the house-hold toxins activity, they do not otherwise explore in an area of personal interest.  Some extension activities may allow students to pursue a chosen issue.

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.