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A Whale's Tale

Elementary

Description

The short video "A Whale's Tale" and its companion lesson plan will teach the students that even the smallest creatures can make a difference when working together to combat plastics in the ocean. The video tells the story of how marine plastics threaten the environment and the lives of small sea creatures until a whale comes to their rescue. This whale sees the effects of water pollution and does his part to clean up the ocean. Meanwhile, on land, a young son of a fisherman is trying to bring awareness to the amount of plastic in the ocean. In the end, the small boy's efforts are rewarded and he, and the other humans, can help the whale.

In the companion lesson plan, the students are led through a series of discussion questions that focus on Emotion, Reasoning and Actions. Afterwards, the younger students will recycle plastic water bottles into a useful item with a partner and put their creations on display.  Older students will conduct a lunch bag audit and graph the results.  They are challenged to make their lunches more eco-friendly and conduct a second audit. 

This resource also contains a Home Component with activities suitable for home or classroom use.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The video is engaging and easy to understand for younger students.
  • The lesson plan is easy to use providing many activity suggestions.
  • The activities are easy to implement with a high learning impact on the students.

Weaknesses

  • There are no assessment tools provided.
  • There are no suggestions for learners who may struggle with the material.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This lesson would work well in any subject area as the learning activities are well integrated.  It would pair well with the No Plastic Challenge as a unit of study.  It could also be used in conjunction with any of the environmental days such as World Oceans Day, Earth Day, or Waste Reduction Week. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Ontario
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  • Prince Edward Island
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  • Quebec
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    • Grade 1
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        • Arts: Visual Arts: To produce media works in the visual arts
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        • Living Things
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        • Living Things
  • Saskatchewan
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        • Arts: Exploring Our World
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  • Yukon Territory
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    • Grade 2
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        • Concrete items can be represented, compared, and interpreted pictorially in graphs.
      • Science
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        • Science 2: Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment
    • Grade 3
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      • Science
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        • Science 3: Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems
    • Grade 4
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      • Science
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        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
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

The lesson plan addresses all of the dimensions of the issue by beginning with discussion questions that focus on relating the film to the students' lives and actions.

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 Very Good

The younger students are show how to reuse a plastic water bottle and make a useful item while older students take steps to reduce the amount of waste in their lunches.

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 discussion questions allow the students to explore their beliefs and values.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus of 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 Good
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 Good
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
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

The open ended discussion questions allow students to explore the topic in their own fashion.

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
  • Visual Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Math
  • Science
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 Satisfactory
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 Good

Unfortunately, there are no strategies for learners who may experience 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
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
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 Poor/Not considered

Unfortunately, the lesson plan is not structured with activities that could be easily evaluated.  There are no tools provided.  The teacher will have to find their own assessment opportunities for this lesson.

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 Satisfactory
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

Case studies are not included in this lesson plan.

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

There is limited choice for students in this lesson plan.

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.