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The effects of climate change on ecosystems and the distribution of organisms within them are already evident in the Arctic. In this lesson, students will learn about the challenges that climate change presents for four specific Arctic predators. They will explore how such changes ripple throughout ecosystems, habitats, and food webs.
The study of ecosystems allows students to develop those skills associated with system thinking; i.e. to identify the elements at work in a system, the interaction among those elements, and the affect of altering elements within the system.
The resource has a number of strengths:
The resource has particular relevance for those science units that examine habitats (grade 4) and later units that investigate the topic of ecosystems (grade 7). It also would support those geography /social studies units that explore weather and climate and human impact on the environment.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Satisfactory|
The competing perspectives regarding the causes of climate change are not part of the focus of the video and accompanying lesson plan. Nor should it be, given that the world's scientist have pronounced on that issue. Rather, the lesson concerns itself with the disruption of an ecosystem - the Arctic. The information provided is based upon observations and our knowledge of the interdependent nature of ecosystems.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Satisfactory|
The lesson limits itself to having students examine the challenges facing Arctic wildlife due to rising temperatures in their habitat. The concluding discussion asks students to consider how rising temperatures and sea levels will affect human communities. Such a discussion will lead to a consideration of the economic and social consequences of climate change for those who live in the Arctic. This requires another lesson plan but this lesson is a good introduction.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The study of an ecosystem encourages system thinking. System thinking helps students understand and acknowledge the complexity of many of the issues they investigate - the interplay and interdependence of the elements involved.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Good|
A Warmer World for Arctic Animals is part of a larger unit of study on climate change. Each unit includes a "What Can We Do?"segment. Other lessons in the unit have students plan and install native plants as a grade appropriate action response.
|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
Student discussion of the loss of habitat and the resulting threat to the existence of the species who make that habitat their home should lead them to consider how much value they attach to the natural world and the societal values that have the effect of enlarging our carbon footprint.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
Students may be expected in later lessons to better understand and empathize with those people who live in the Arctic and whose way of life is threatened by climate change. One might expect that teachers would see such a study as completing and complementing this study of Arctic wildlife.
|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|
Students will emerge with a better understanding of certain Arctic animals and hopefully empathy for the struggles these animals face because their habitat is a victim of climate change.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The unit plan attached to this particular strand of the larger topic of climate change suggests students take a walk in their school yard or local park to investigate the plants found there and how they might be affected by climate change. Similar field trips might be undertaken to a local botanical garden or aquarium.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Good|
The study of the impact of climate change on ecosystems requires that students investigate existing ecosystems, the changes already occurring within these ecosystems and the future changes projected by scientists.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
The primary goal of the lesson is to have students understand something of the impact of climate change on Arctic wildlife. In doing so, it opens the possibility of student consideration and discussion about the causes of climate change and how we might respond to the challenges posed by what is regarded by many as the greatest issue of our day.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
The study of ecosystems is a central topic in the science curriculum - particularly in grades 4 and 7 in most Provinces and Territories. A number of Geography units have students examine people's influence on natural systems. In carrying out the assignments attached to the lesson, students have an opportunity to strengthen those English Arts skills involving listening and reading comprehension as well as writing and research. Watching and responding to the video portion of the lesson will help students practice those skills associated with the Visual Arts.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
The lesson plan asks the students to consider three questions related to the impact of climate change on the Arctic. Students seek the answer to these questions by identifying those features that characterize ecosystems; the interactions that might occur between living things and the environment in which they live; and selecting, investigating and reporting on an ecosystem of their choice. Once these student understandings are in place, the lesson focuses on changes that are occurring in the Arctic ecosystem and addresses the questions posed by the lesson.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
|Differentiated Instruction||Very Good|
The lesson includes activities that involve students in role playing, individual/group research, viewing and responding to a video, and formulating future scenarios.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The lesson includes a role-playing simulation designed to have students understand the interactions that occur among the living things that are part of an ecosystem. It also suggests that teachers take students on a "field trip" to the school playground or a local park to study a local ecosystem.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Students have an opportunity to work with others in investigating and reporting on an ecosystem of their choice. Students are also encouraged to investigate those organizations working to protect the Arctic environment and undertake a class project to raise funds to help one of these organizations.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Satisfactory|
Each of the units in the larger study of climate change includes "Assessment Ideas". The ideas represent a starting point but would have to be supplemented by teacher devised assessment ideas.
|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.|
Students are required to research an ecosystem of their choice, post the ecosystem profiles in a classroom 'gallery" and have the other students draw comparisons among different ecosystems.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Very Good|
The Arctic provides an excellent case study of the impact of climate change on vulnerable ecosystems.
|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|
The lesson plan is designed to have the teacher guide the students through a series of activities based upon the principles of scaffolding but does allow opportunities for student independent work.
|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.|