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Don't Stop for Hitchhikers

Elementary, Middle

Description

In this participatory activity, students simulate a lake ecosystem by taking on the roles of its inhabitants. Students assume the identities of both native and non-native species to physically demonstrate what occurs to the habitat and its resources as exotic plants and animals are introduced into the environment. Through the use of props and a written script, students learn the means by which non-native species enter freshwater systems, how they negatively affect the environment and how they can be stopped.

This activity serves as an excellent companion to "Rival for Survival", another resource produced by this same organization that explores exotic species.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource does not explicitly teach skills.

Strengths

  • A novel and intriguing hands-on activity.
  • The materials provided are well formatted and provide a wealth of information.

Weaknesses

  • The lack of assessment materials.
  • Teachers will need to seek out  photos or samples of the species discussed in the activity.

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 4
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      • Science
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        • Investigating change and the diversity of Earth’s systems helps us to develop understandings of the conditions necessary to sustain life.
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        • Wetland Ecosystems
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Freshwater and Saltwater Systems
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        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment
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        • Science 3.Our Local Environment: Science Technology Society and Environment (STSE)
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        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Habitat Loss
    • Invasive Species
    • Wildlife Protection
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory
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 resource does a wonderful job of addressing the environmental and social dimensions of the issue. It is lacking in the area of the economic focus.  More specifically, teachers should introduce the economic impacts that occur when an invasive species takes over the habitat of indigenous species.

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

A systems-thinking approach is prominent in this simulation activity to help the students to visualize the impacts of exoctic species.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

The resource itself is not structured to fully support this type of learning.  However, in the section "Extending the Visit" there are some suggestions provided to involve the students in community action.

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
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 the 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

The approach taken promotes a personal connection with the issue of exotic species.

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

With its focus on the Great Lakes region, this resource is relevant to the lives of Canadian students.

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

This resource does a very good job of describing how non-native species were introduced to the effected regions as well as describing the current conditions.  It also makes concrete suggestions for actions that can be taken to limit the spread of the exotic 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

The resource delivers a large quantity of important information 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 Satisfactory
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 Very Good

The format of this resource is highly engaging for students with the role playing, the physical change of location outside of a classroom and the inclusion of movement.

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
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 Satisfactory

Although some suggestions for assessment are given, there are no tools included in the 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 Poor/Not considered

The resource is not structures for this type of interaction.

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 real descriptions used in the teacher script provide concrete examples of what is occuring in water systems with regards to invasive species.

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

The resource does not provide these opportunities.

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.