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This problem-based learning unit focuses on the health effects of poor air quality. Students are asked to explain why one twin has asthma and one does not. Students form groups called Think-Tanks that allow them to research the issue by assuming different roles. They are challenged to explore the problem, research and answer the question, discover ways to evaluate the answers and then present these to other class members.
Students learn the skills associated with problem solving - identifying the problem; asking relevant questions; gathering and sharing information; generating and analyzing possible solutions;determining the best solution; presenting findings and advocating action.
In progressing through each of these steps, students must practice critical analysis and evaluation and the skills associated with cooperative learning.
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|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives
The first step required of students in their efforts to resolve the problem presented by the resource is to create a categorical concept map based on what members of the class know from the reading and their own experiences. Think-Tank groups then generate up to four questions about the problem. This approach offers considerable guarantee that the answer is not pre-determined and that all perspectives will be acknowledged.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions
The role-playing exercise is somewhat restrictive in that the relevant roles - epidemiologist, doctor of medicine, environmental biologist, sociologist - are set, but these would seem to cover all relevant voices.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The complexity of the problem is recognized in exploring the possible factors at play in causing the asthma and in weighing the impact of the various solutions that students are expected to suggest.
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning
Students are required as part of the concluding exercise to undertake a " Plan Solution Products and Presentations" in which each of the Think Tanks present their solutions to an audience of teachers, parents and other students. After each group presents, time is allowed for students and visitors to question and critique the presentation.
The final exercise, Reflection, has students consider “What should we do now?” Students generate some actions that they could take to solve a dilemma such as this. This activity can be used to generate more ideas for possible research or actions to be taken by the students to confront the environmental health problem.
|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
Among the roles assigned within the simulation is that of the sociologist. In researching the possible causes of asthma, the sociologist may be expected to investigate possible links to socio-economic factors and thereby make students aware of the link between poverty and disease. Such a discussion may be expected to have students reflect on their own and society's values on these issues.
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans
The pedagogy adopted by the resource serves to personalize the issue of asthma and in doing so may heighten student empathy for those suffering from the disease.
|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
|Personal Affinity with Earth:
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
While the resource simulates a problem - the causes of asthma- the understandings acquired have relevance for one's local community and the Reflection component of the resource directs students to consider what may be done at the community level in accordance with this new understanding.
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.
The resource employs the principles of problem-based learning. The problem is introduced; relevant questions are identified and modified as required; research is undertaken; solutions are proposed and assessed; conclusions are reached by consensus; understanding gained are related to the real world.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
Solving the problem requires that students use analytical, inquiry and design strategies that are generic and therefore have broad curriculum relevance. Students explore the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology.
The research and presentation components has students listen, speak, read, and write for information and understanding -skills common to the Language Arts curriculum.
Consideration of the roles, right, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation are to be found in many Civics/Social Studies courses and while not central to the resource may be explored by teachers and students.
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Students are confronted with a question/mystery - Why does one twin have asthma and another not? They generate and modify the questions that need to be answered in order to solve the mystery. Working in collaborate groups, students gather and share relevant information and generate possible solutions.
In progressing through these steps, students acquire the skills associated with problem-based learning.
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
The mix of teaching elements - simulation, role playing, collaborate learning, research,preparing solution products and presentations - allows for a variety of student interests and abilities.
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The resource is designed to achieve the intended learning through a structured simulation.
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Students are grouped into Think Tanks that allow them to research the issue presented by assuming different roles. Various handouts - Problem-Based Learning Timeline Map; Collaborative Work Skills Rubric; Role Cards for Think-Tank Members; PBL (Problem-Based Learning) Chart -help students acquire the skills associated with cooperative learning.
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation
The resource includes a Collaborative Work Skills Rubric and a Group Research Rubric. A blank Presentation Rubric and Solution Product Rubric is also provided so that students may gain experience in the design of rubrics. Additionally, the resource provides a Decision-Making Matrix that students must complete and submit for teacher evaluation.
|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.
The creation of Think Tanks and the accompanying role playing exercise require students to teach one another in order to resolve the problem presented and to advocate for a particular solution.
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
Students are presented with a simulated case study - the story of the re-union of twins separated at birth and the discovery that one of the twins suffers from asthma. The use of twins to study various social phenomena is a common practice, giving the simulation the required sense of authenticity.
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
The resource strikes a balance in providing the necessary structure for students to investigate the problem presented while allowing students to frame the questions that must be investigated and to pursue their own conclusions.
|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.