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Coming Home

Episode 4: Gr 10

Secondary

Description

‘Coming Home’ is the title of the final of four episodes in David Suzuki’s television series The Sacred Balance now available to teachers on DVD or VHS.    

This resource, The Grade 11-12 Teacher’s Guide to Episode 4, Coming Home serves as a curriculum document to help teachers incorporate key ideas from episode four into the senior high science classroom.  The guide is organized into ‘pre’, ‘during’, and ‘post’- viewing activities that explore the interconnectedness of life on earth by examining spiritual connections as an essential requirement for long-term human health and happiness.  Student activities are organized around a number of contributing themes to convey how cooperation, love, our need to connect with nature and the importance of cultural diversity are the keys in understanding our place in nature.  The guide also provides a number of on-line articles and one simulation for students to use in completing the activities.   

Before Viewing - After examining resources selected by the teacher in preparation for viewing episode four students complete a personal inventory of their perspectives on modern science to help clarify their own current views on our place in nature.   Students then complete word exercises that introduce some of the new fields of science to be featured in the episode. 

During Viewing - Students are provided with a template to cue their attention to specific issues raised in the program that will be central to the activities and discussion that follow.  Students make brief notes and record key phrases directly on the template.  A script containing dialogue excerpts is also provided with the guide to minimize the amount of note-taking required. 

After Viewing - The guide provides a number of activities designed to continue and deepen the discussion of themes presented in the episode.  Students participate in a perception exercise that generates a discussion of the need for cooperation among living things.  Next students work through a series of questions and complete a Venn Diagram to compare mechanistic with systems thinking and the implications of  each for science, society and technology.  In other post-viewing activities students look for additional evidence of love as a requisite force, conduct research into biophilia and evaluate the contributions that others have made to ‘restoring a secret balance’.  In the summation activity, students are asked to interpret in writing the meaning of the episode’s title, Coming Home

In addition to the student activities the guide includes a glossary and provides teachers with background information and suggestions for planning and implementation.  The Secret Balance website has links to supplementary activities and sources of information. 

Although considered supplementary by the publishers, the program episodes enhance the classroom experience and effectiveness of the student activities significantly.  Episode segments can be found on you tube.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource does not teach skills.

Strengths

  • The resource deals with very interesting ideas and topics.
  • The activities are based on the dvd/vhs presentation that students will find very engaging and entertaining.
  • The resource does an excellent job in demonstrating the interconnectedness of living and nonliving things.
  • The resource does a very good job in encouraging empathy for nature.
  • The resource does a good job in promoting the importance of cultural diversity.
  • The resource is easy to use by both students and teachers.
  • The resource provides students with challenging questions and includes answer keys for the teacher.

Weaknesses

  • The ideas from the new fields of science are presented without challenge.
  • The post discussion activities are not obviously or easily connected to the central theme.
  • One of the key themes is not addressed in the post viewing activities.
  • The resource does not offer an action component.
  • The activities do not teach skills.
  • The activities do not include out-of-doors experience.
  • There is little attention paid to cooperative,experiential or authentic learning.
  • The student learning is primarily passive.
  • Student assessment is not addressed.
  • The on-line video clips from the episode are no longer available.
  • The cost of the dvd/vhs is approximately $90.00
  • The Sacred Balance Website is highly commercialized.

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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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
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        • Biology 20: Ecosystems and Population Change
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        • Religious Meaning 20:Course Content
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        • Philosophy 30
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        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
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        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
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        • Citizenship and Sustainability:Area of Inquiry: Indigenous Peoples
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        • Biology 11: Biodiversity
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        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • World Religions 3101/3106: Overall Expectations
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        • Biology 20: Ecosystems and Population Change
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        • Biology 11: Interactions among Living Things
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        • Biology 20: Ecosystems and Population Change
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        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
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        • Philosophy: The Big Questions (Univ./College Prep.): Philosophical Skills
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        • Applied Science & Technology:The Living World
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        • Psychology 20: Who Am I?
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        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
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    • Grade 9
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        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
    • Grade 11
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Interdependence
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Quality of Life
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory
  • The activities and the episode upon which they are based highlight many of the personal conclusions drawn by David Suzuki in his search for mankind's place in nature.
  • The validity of Eco psychology and biophilia along with conclusions concerning the effects of emotional derprivation are presented to students without question.
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 Satisfactory

The issues presented in this episode and discussed in the activities that follow highlight social, spiritual and ecological dimensions.

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 Satisfactory

While the student learning is primarily passive, the contributions of both scientific and spiritual learning to solving complex problems is effectively represented.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
  • The resource has students examine action taken by others to bring about positive change but does not involve them in a project of their own.
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 Satisfactory
  • Students complete an exercise designed to help them clarify their own world view on the role and impact of science.
  • Students are asked to articulate in writing the meaning of episode title "Coming Home".
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • The resource does a very good job in fostering respect for the traditional knowledge of Canada's Inuit People.
  • Introducing students to the concept of 'earth as an ethnosphere' advances the importance of a diversity of cultures to the future health of mankind.
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

While there is no provision for out-of-doors experience the importance of the intimate connection between humans and all other components of nature are effectively presented in the episode and reinforced with the activities.

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 Satisfactory
  • While the issues and themes are global in their scope there is a Canadian component that students will appreciate. 
  • Although there is little provided in the way of concrete learning opportunities for students, the questions and activities do a good job in involving students in developing their own perspectives on the nature of the sacred balance.
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

The focus of this episode is more on what comes next, but it does make an effort to connect past, present and future and it provides students with reasons to be optimistic.

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
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Students are asked to identify and evaluate systems thinking as an approach to problem solving but do not apply its principles in the activities.

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

The perception and Venn diagram exercises along with research questions offer students limited inquiry learning opportunities. 

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

While the bulk of the learning activities centre around reading and responding, students are provided with opportunities to:

  • Participate in perception surveys.
  • Participate in an Eco psychology 'field trip'.
  • Construct and intepret a Venn Diagram.
  • Conduct further research
  • Articulate their own perceptions of key issues.
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 Poor/Not considered
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 Poor/Not considered
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 & 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 Poor/Not considered
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 activities do not incorporate specific case studies.  However the segments presented in the episode and the material that students are given to read and reflect upon describe real events and current research.

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 Poor/Not considered
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.