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A Flush Away from the Field

Secondary, Middle

Description

In this inquiry students explore the relationship between their everyday lives and farming.  The connections among human consumption, pollution, waste mitigation and agriculture are established through a number of varied activities arranged in four parts.  While designed to be completed as a unit, each part can serve as a stand-alone lesson.

1.  Waste and Pollution: Activities examine how resource consumption creates waste and how this waste can cause harm to the environment.  Students will:

  • View photographs that illustrate the impact of human consumption on the environment
  • Discuss how we create waste in our homes, categorize different types of waste and brainstorm ways to mitigate its accumulation.
  • Reflect on the seriousness of pollution caused by the waste we create

2. Wastewater Treatment and Bio-solids: The activities in this lesson focus on one type of waste- municipal sewage.  Students will:

  • Take part in a teacher-led discussion about the development and importance of sanitation
  • Research where their personal wastewater goes and the steps involved in its treatment
  • View a video that examines the issue of biosolids and their potential role in agriculture

3. National Pollutant Release Inventory: The activities in this lesson will help students learn to use the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). Students will:

  • Explore the NPRI website to better understand the who, what, when, and why of NPRI data collection
  • Research their local wastewater treatment facility and compare the data to that of a smaller or lager city
  • Create and present a profile of one of the pollutants releaser by a wastewater treatment facility

4. Journalistic Report: The activities in this lesson will help students integrate the knowledge they have gathered on the wastewater treatment process, pollutants, and the use of biosolids in agriculture. Students will:

  • Research the various facets of this environmental issue
  • Create a fact-based journalistic product that can be in written form, a video, an infographic, an interview, etc. 

This module will help build students' ability to formulate questions to find and filter information, to think critically and to present their findings to a specific audience. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

In this resource, students will learn to use the National Pollutant Release Inventory and do a journalistic report. As well, students will build on their ability to formulate question, find and filter information, think critically, and present their findings. 

Strengths

  • This resource provides all lesson plans for teachers
  • Additional background information and useful links are included in this resource
  • Student handouts are included in this resource
  • The lesson has students doing a multitude of different activities in different formats which lends itself well to different learning styles.
  • This resource is available in both official languages

Weaknesses

  • Options for assessment are not provided in this resource.
  • Activities for learners with difficulties are not included in this resource.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource would be excellent to spark discussions around the topic of waste elimination in geography or science classrooms. 

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.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21 st Century: Food from the Land
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Food Supply: Production and Distribution
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • AP Human Geography: Agricultural and Rural Land - Use Patterns and Processes
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Studies 35: Northern Environmental Issues
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Reducing and Managing Waste
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Agriscience 801A: Soil and Water Management
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Agricultural territory
        • Urban territory
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Agricultural territory
        • Urban territory

Themes Addressed

  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Organic Farming
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Waste Management (4)

    • Cradle-to-Cradle
    • Liquid Waste
    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
  • Water (1)

    • Water Treatment and Distribution

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

This series of inquiry based activities helps students understand the less obvious connections between our everyday lives and farming, while developing critical thinking and research skills. These activities will help build students’ ability to to find and filter information so they can form their own opinion and take informed positions on different subjects based on the videos and information they've received on the topic. Student discussion on the subject is at the center of this lesson.

Students research the various facets of this environmental issue and present the risks and benefits of using biosolids in agriculture in an informative media production.

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

Considering the different activities of this resource, students will get to take a look at how these dimensions interplay in the issue of waste. 

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

The resource informs how wastewater treatment technology, environmental pollution and sustainable agriculture are interconnected. Students will reflect on how our consumption of natural resources creates wastes and pollution, and explore the ways we try to re-use this waste.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

No action opportunities are suggested

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

Students’ opinions and beliefs are at the center of this resource. They have many opportunities to share and express themselves.

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

Students will take a look at the sewage waste coming from their home and how it could be helping a farmer grow food and therefore foster an appreciation and concern for the natural world. However, all activities are done inside the classroom. 

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

Students will research their community's wastewater treatment facility as well as compare data of their wastewater treatment facility with that of another city. 

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 module consists of four parts, arranged in a sequence that encourages students to ask questions and develop their knowledge on the topic before integrating it in a final product. Throughout this resource, students are asked to share their opinion and beliefs on the subject. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

This resource would mostly be used in classes where we discuss waste and its affects on agriculture, however it could be used for certain outcomes in 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

The resource is a series inquiry based activities that help students understand the less obvious connections between our everyday lives and farming, while developing critical thinking and research skills.

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

This resource has a multitude of different activities for students to do and therefore addresses well the needs of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. However, strategies for learners with difficulties 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 Satisfactory

Students will take a look at wastewater treatments in their own community, however all learning happens within the classroom. 

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 will work in 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 Poor/Not considered

Assessment tools are not provided in this resource. 

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

Students will present their findings on a pollutant of their choice, however they do necessarily teach one another. 

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

Students will use the actual National Pollutant Release Inventory and look at their actual wastewater treatment facility. 

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
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.