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Close the Doors!

Secondary, Elementary, Middle

Description

This classroom resource is the third of a four-unit series designed to raise student awareness of the problems associated with non-native, invasive species  The unit includes biodiversity surveys, creative expression, ethics discussions,  a "grab box" activity and a dramatic presentation to illustrate how the biodiversity of local ecosystems has been affected by the arrival of invasive species. A primary focus is placed on how to prevent further introductions of non-native invasive species.

Students explore how the introduction of invasive species is tied to specific human actions of travel, trade, and transportation. They will also recognize that the seemingly unimportant decisions they make today may have far-reaching implications for the future.

Each lesson can serve as a stand alone activity or can be combined with other lessons to provide a comprehensive unit on preventing follows:

Bioblitz (2 X60 min.)

Students take to the outdoors to survey the number of living things they encounter in a local natural area. Younger students perform a one hour mini bioblitz while older students participate in a whole day taxonomic event involving the identification of families, genera, and species. After the surveys have been completed, invasives are identified and discussed.

Extension activities include conducting a biodiversity survey in two distinct areas and comparing the results, and designing a biodiversity scavenger hunt for younger students.

Means and Modes 2 X 60 min)

After selecting various items from a box students are asked to brainstorm how the item may be connected to the spread of invasive species. Questions to help promote discussion are included for each item.

Extension activities include researching unanswered questions which are generated in class discussions.

Sticky Situations (2 X 60 min)

In this activity groups of students read and discuss a real life dilemma involving native and invasive species that may have positive or negative effects on the environment.  Groups present their positions to the class.

Students are asked to visit websites to learn more about taking care of public lands.

Homeland Security (4 X 60min)

Students perform skits that expose the threat of a global bio-invasion and the hidden costs of rapid global travel and free trade.  The skits address three main entry strategies for invasive species- as passengers, cargo, and mail and students are made aware of the government agencies steps to protect  borders.  Students then design and present a creative invasive species awareness campaign.

Extension activities include inventing an invasive species detector, investigating current laws which protect biodiversity, visiting an international airport and mapping the routes of invasive species around the world.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Creative thinking skills
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Working cooperatively with group members
  • Speaking and communicating thoughts and ideas
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Proposing solutions to a problem being invastigated
  • Using technology for research
  • Engaing and responding to dramatic presentations

Strengths

  • Good 'out-of-doors' experience
  • The resource offers a wide range of activities
  • Lessons are well organized and include objectives, prep-time, activity time, materials needed, and grade level
  • Students will enjoy the games and role play activities
  • The resource encourages creativity and individual expression
  • Has a multi-disciplinary approach
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue and incidental peer teaching
  • Includes effective case studies
  • Promotes community awareness
  • Provides an experiential activity 
  • The Bioblitz checklists, suitable for early middle level, are excellent.

Weaknesses

  • For some of the activities teachers will need to spend time collecting essential materials
  • Limited background material provided for teachers or students
  • Teachers will want to research non-native invasive species in the local area
  • Data collection sheets are not provided for older students in lesson one
  • Teachers will need to develop their own assessment tools
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling students

Recommendation of how and where to use it

In science classes these activities will help demonstrate how people knowingly and unknowingly assist invasive plants and animals by introducing them into different ecosystems. It is also relevant to geography classes that explore the link between human activity and the environmental and economic sustainability of local ecosystems.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecosystems (5)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
    • Invasive Species
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

This resource emphasizes the importance of preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species. It emphasizes that people knowingly or unknowingly introduce non-native invasive species and these actions have negative impacts on ecosystems. Any benefits of non-native species are not discussed in detail.

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

The devastating effects of invasive species on the local ecology and economy brought about by human travel, trade and tourism are made clear. 

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

Although not examining all aspects of the issue the resource will provide opportunities to do so by promoting discussion and dialogue within groups of students.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Students design a creative invasive species awareness campaign.

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 Good

The "Sticky Situation" dilemma cards offer opprtunities for students to not only discuss the possible solutions and consequences, but also to clarify their values and beliefs.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
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

In addition to drawing attention to the threat invasives present to our planet, the biodiversity survey is an excellent out-of-doors experience.

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
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 Good

Students are exposed to present day situations through various activities. Students may be motivated to to play a role in implementing solutions to prevent the spread of invasive species in the future.

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 encouraged to think for themselves and develop/express their own opinions. There are opportunities to link to their own experience and the activities encourage student interaction and participation.

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 is primarily a science resource but there are opportunities to address outcomes in language arts, art, social studies and geography.

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
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 Satisfactory

A variety of teaching methods are used to address both the cogntive and affective domains. There are no accommodations or modifications suggested for struggling learners.

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

Assessment ideas are suggested, by it is up to the teacher to design their own assessment tools.

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 Satisfactory

The "Baggage Surprises" section of the last lesson describes brief scenarios which examine concepts in an authentic context.

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

Students are given opportunities to respond and reflect on what they discover. The assessment suggestions are broad and allow students to go deeper into an issue of their choice.

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.