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Fishing for the Future

Secondary, Elementary, Middle

Description

Students experience the "Tragedy of the Commons" through this 'hands-on' illustration of the depletion of fishing resources. The actions of the students mimic the real life consequences of overfishing and the resulting impacts on the ecosystem.

The resource is prefaced with a discussion about the concept of sustainability - its definition and why it is an important goal for a society, along with the challenges of attaining it.

Students are given a certain number of candies representing a species of fish and they must "catch" at least 2 "fish" per round. They do this by first sucking up the candy through a straw. Fish are added to represent breeding seasons, depending on the number left after each round. The method of fishing then intensifies by allowing hands to hold the straws, the use of spoons - all indicative of improvements in fishing technology. Inevitably, the fish disappear unless a group catches on and decides on a sustainable approach amongst themselves.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students learn to build consensus.

They may have opportunities to learn how to write a letter, prepare a campaign, research information, produce a plan and/or interview, but these are not explicitly taught in the resource. The teacher would have to facilitate these activities.

Strengths

  • It is an engaging and novel resource and provides a "hands-on" experience for students.
  • There is a good variety of background information and support, for both teachers and students which is selectively age appropriate.
  • The resource is very user friendly with the activity worksheet provided along with suggestions for assessments, further extension activities and the central purpose is clearly identified.
  • It is up-to-date as the resource is applicable in any time frame, and does not contain specific dated information.

Weaknesses

The resource should include a specific discussion about the other impacts on the fisheries such as loss of habitat, changes in the climate and pollution.

The resource should also include at least one comprehensive case study as part of the lesson and preferably several representing different ecological niches.

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (1)

    • Globalization
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Endangered Species
  • Food & Agriculture (2)

    • Conventional Farming
    • Food Security
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Fisheries

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This resource is a good simulation of one key aspect of the fisheries in exploring how a fish resource can collapse through overfishing. The inter-related factors of climate change or other environmental changes which may affect where a species exists, and the social/economical implications that may affect the ability to maintain sustainable practices, are covered through class discussions, writing connections and research. 

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 simulation is effective in illustrating the results of overfishing, and the "Tragedy of the Commons", but if the teacher does not bring up the other related factors, or direct the students through the other suggested follow-up activities, it is rather uni-dimensional.

Through class discussion and research at the higher grade levels (as the resource suggests), the other factors can be incorporated into the activity - environmental impacts throughout the food chain, economic and social pressures to develop and maintain sustainable fishing practices.

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

Students consider the interplay among social, economic, environmental and political dimensions (if they are directed to explore international treaties and policies) of fishing practices.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Options for direct authentic experiences are suggested, such as visiting a local fishery, or fish farm, or participating in a beach cleanup, but these are not necessarily an integral part of the activity.

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

Through the actual activity of "fishing" and then through the additional discussion/research activities, students are given an opportunity to identify and clarify their own values and perspectives about this complex issue.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not addressed here.

However, students could certainly be asked to explore a specific area and the cultural aspects of fishing, such as a small out port in Newfoundland, or Pacific island community.

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

The resource looks at fish more from the point of view of a food source for people, rather than an integral species to the flow of energy in an ecosystem. However, if the teacher has students consider the overall impacts of overfishing, this may promote an awareness and empathy about human effects on ecosystems and other 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

The activity is about one of our main sources of food - fish - and so most if not all students can relate to the relevance of maintaining or losing a food source.

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

Students develop an understanding of how the fisheries have changed over time and with the introduction of technology. Present and future implications are considered.

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 Very Good

It is an experiential activity which allows students to consider many different aspects during the simulation and come up with their own perspectives.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Very Good

The resource covers elements of math, social studies, geography, economics, environmental science and language arts.

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 Good

The resource supports many different learning styles and abilities, and applies to both cognitive and affective domains. Specific modifications are not given.

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 simulation provides an opportunity to experience the realities of overfishing in a very concrete and effective manner.

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 Good

This resource not only provides students with interactive group dynamics, but is also an interesting study of human behavior on its own. If the activity is redone in the view of sustainability, students definitely have to work together co-operatively!

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 Very Good

There are several levels of reflection questions provided in the resource for intermediate and advanced students to provide both formative and summative information about student learning.

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 should be directed to complete one of the suggested action projects which involves researching a sustainable fish species and preparing an advertising campaign in their school to promote sustainable consumption.

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

Poor

There are no case studies provided in the core activities of this resource, although some of the suggested resources would offer some.

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 Very Good

In the Writing Connections section and in the Action Projects, students are given ideas about further research topics. These can be tailored to the grade level and student ability.

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.