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Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children

Elementary, Middle

Description

Activities are designed to incorporate Aboriginal legend into the investigation of energy for life.  The chapter explores the nature of energy and its many forms including fire.  Attention is also paid to the importance of conserving energy.

Students will:

  • make a simple machine to demonstrate three forms of energy: heat, light and motion.
  • watch a demonstration that distinguishes renewable and nonrenewable energy resources.
  • develop and maintain an empathic relationship with another person and a part of nature.

This chapter is part of a larger compilation, "Keepers of the Earth", and is intended to be taught in conjunction with the rest of the chapters within the book. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The chapter does not teach skills.

Strengths

  • Activities are engaging and meet the needs of various learning needs and styles.
  • Activities are well organized with clear goals and outcomes.
  • Students have opportunities to reflect on the outcomes of the experiments and are not simply given the "right" answer.
  • Aboriginal legends are used initially to explore the topic of energy.
  • Good quality background information on energy is provided for the teacher.

Weaknesses

  • The discussion of energy issues is introductory only.
  • A problem solving systems thinking approach is not undertaken when discussing energy.
  • Students do not participate in authentic action experiences related to energy.
  • Students do not have the opportunity to choose parts of their programming, or the medium in which they will work.
  • Assessment tools/rubrics are not provided

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Energy (2)

    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • Students are exposed to varying viewpoints about energy.  The major focus of lessons is on generating understanding about energy.
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
  • Although different issues surrounding energy are briefly discussed within this chapter, the resource does not fully address multiple dimensions of problems and solutions.  This chapter is part of a larger compilation that in its entirety addresses other dimensions of energy & environmental issues.
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
  • The chapter serves to introduce students to the concept of energy.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
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 are given the opportunity to reflect and hypothesize why certain things happen in their experiments
  • Students are required to represent how they would conserve energy at home.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • All students are encouraged to participate.
  • The importance of energy for all living things is discussed.
  • An Aboriginal legend is used to introduce the concept of energy and is demonstrated as a respected piece of history.
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
  • Some of the activities within this chapter take place out of doors. 
  • The importance of energy for plants and all living things is discussed and how the sun is the source of energy for all living things on Earth.
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
  • Many of the activities within this chapter are simulation activities.
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 Satisfactory
  • An Aboriginal legend is used to introduce the topic of energy to the students.
  • A positive vision for the future is not fully realized through the activities in this chapter.
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 Satisfactory
  • The majority of activities within this chapter are teacher directed. 
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory
  • Although there are opportunities for interdisciplinary learning through the activities provided within this chapter, they are not adequately explored.
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 majority of activities within this chapter are teacher directed, although students do have the opportunity to reflect and hypothesize why certain things happen in their experiments.
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 Good
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
  • The majority of lessons involve simulation activities and experiments.
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
  • Students work in groups throughout the activities presented within this chapter, but are not explicitly taught cooperative learning skills.
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 practises are not discusses.
  • Opportunities for assessment are provided, such as research papers, but are guidelines are not specifically provided.
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
  • Students have the opportunity to present their knowledge through incidental teaching that occurs during group activities/discussions, and projects.
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 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 Satisfactory
  • Many of the activities within this chapter are teacher directed, and students do not have the opportunity to choose the medium in which they will work or the components of their programming.
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.