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One of the most extreme places to live on Earth is the northern Arctic and yet an amazing group of plants and animals have adapted to life under the harsh polar conditions. However, global warming is causing major environmental change in this region which is contributing to habitat loss and food chain disruptions. This engaging lesson has students studying interesting Arctic species to make connections to climate change impacts as they:
This lesson supports Grade 4-8 Science curriculum related to ecosystem health, biodiversity, climate change and human impacts on the environment. The activities could also be included in Social Studies units that explore Arctic First Nations communities.
The lesson could easily extend into a teaching project that promotes renewable energy. Working with local community members a class could build a pop can solar panel or erect a wind turbine at school. Students could also organize a school workshop for citizens and businesses to provide information about lowering carbon emissions and reducing energy costs.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
Links are made between biotic and abiotic ecosystem components such as polar bear requirements for sea ice. This reinforces student understanding of interconnectedness and the role of physical change in creating biological change. Students will be more aware of the complexities of nature in relation to human impacts.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
Students discuss the fragility of arctic food webs in relation to the environmental cost of reduced biodiversity and social impacts on indigenous people that depend on arctic species for food, clothing and shelter. This holistic approach ensures that learners understand how significant changes in climate threaten sensitive arctic ecosystems leading to human issues like food insecurity.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
Students distinguish between endangered, threatened and species of special concern to increase awareness of how conservation efforts require a comprehensive approach that balances environmental and human needs.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Poor/Not considered|
No specific action projects are included but there is potential for a teacher to extend the learning into action by incorporating a student project for personal carbon reduction goals.
|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
Class discussions centre on how individual action can contribute to conservation efforts.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Good|
The resource includes Indigenous Peoples in the exploration of this topic which fosters an understanding of the intimate connections and respect that First Nations citizens have for the land they call home.
|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||Satisfactory|
As students research arctic species they will become more connected to nature.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
Students are encouraged to extend their learning to include a consideration of human impacts on threatened/endangered species in their own community.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Poor/Not considered|
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
The activities are designed to allow students to reach their own conclusions as they conduct their research.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
This lesson has been developed to support Science outcomes but the activities could enhance Social Studies content related to studying Inuit communities.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Students are actively involved in the learning process through self-directed research and peer communication. The activities encourage curiosity about the topic and class discussions support idea building and expansion of new learning.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
|Differentiated Instruction||Poor/Not considered|
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The Polar Bear International website contains several unique videos that support the lesson plan. These webcam videos bring students into the world of Polar Bear research with the scientists that are on the ground.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Students work in pairs or small groups with each individual actively contributing to the lesson.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|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.|
Groups communicate new learning to other class members through peer presentations and trivia cards they create for the "What Arctic Species Am I?" game.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Poor/Not considered|
|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.|