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Good-bye poverty, hello biodiversity

Secondary, Middle

Description

This ESD resource is the third in a series of children's books that explores diversity. It explains the link between declining biodiversity and world poverty. Suitable for the science classroom, it focuses on the relationship between environmental stewardship and social justice and its lack of an "overload of scientific  information" may make it less intimidating for non-science teachers. Each of the five chapters explores a different aspect of biodiversity and its connection to human well-being. After reading about diversity and development in class, students may feel motivated to take action, either on the local or global level, to improve living conditions of poor people. The final chapter includes an action plan guide to help students get organized. A brief summary of the content in each chapter is given below.

Chapter One: Biodiversity- introduces 3 components of biodiversity- genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. It also examines the direct and indirect drivers that threaten biodiversity. The wrap-up activity asks students to fill in a chart about how the quality of our lives would be effected if nature stopped producing certain ecosystem goods and services.

Chapter Two- Development - "Poverty" and "development" are defined and discussed. The five parts of well being (security, health, good social relations, basic materials, and freedom of choice and action) are also reviewed. An end-of-chapter crossword helps reinforces the material covered.

Chapter Three- Are Biodiversity and Development Related?- examines how biodiversity can help in achieving development goals.  The basic premise is that poor people are especially reliant on certain ecosystem services.  Students complete a fill in the blanks exercise as a check for understanding.

Chapter Four- What is the World Doing? - offers a quick overview of 'who is' and 'who could be' making contributions to combat poverty at the local, regional, national, and global levels. These include non-government organizations, government, religious groups, business owners, local residents, and children. Specific information is also provided about the Convention on Biodiversity, its goals, and mission. Students complete a word search at the end of their reading.

Chapter Five- So What can You Do?- offers a number of different suggestions for action. A" Youth Action Guide" template is included which provides an organized approach to action that  includes a research component.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Interpreting maps, flowcharts, and data tables
  • Working cooperatively with team members to carry out a plan
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Reading and viewing of different text

Strengths

  • Non-science teachers will find this a friendly resource to promote service learning and environmental stewardship
  • Glossary is included with easy to find bold colored words
  • Topic is relevant and important
  • "Did you Know?" boxes build empathy and reinforce concepts in an authentic way
  • Useful links are provided for teachers
  • Data is displayed on well-designed charts and maps
  • It effectively demonstrates the complexity of environmental issues
  • Students will enjoy the chapter ending tasks- crossword, word search and fill in the blanks exercise
  • Action plan suggestions are provided along with a template for organizing and implementing them

Weaknesses

  • No experiential learning opportunity provided
  • Resource lacks discussion questions and opportunities to clarify and share values
  • Teachers will need to build assessment tools
  • No suggestions provided for accommodations for struggling learners

Relevant Curriculum Units

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  • Alberta
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        • Interactions and Ecosystems
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        • Biological Diversity
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        • Issues for Canadians: Economic Systems in Canada and the United
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        • Science 10-4( Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
        • Science 14: Investigating Matter and Energy in Living Systems
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        • Social Studies 10-1(Perspectives on Globalization) Globalization & Sustainable Prosperity
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Themes Addressed

Citizenship (1)

  • General Guide to Taking Action

Economics (1)

  • Poverty Reduction

Ecosystems (1)

  • Biodiversity

Human Rights (2)

  • Poverty
  • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

The resource provides information, statistics, and real life accounts of the social and economic effects of the loss of biodiversity on the quality of life of people around the world. This perspective comes for the point of view of a non-government organization. The perspectives of governmental agencies (at any level) are not included.

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 Very Good

Sustaining biodiversity is seen as the key for  poorer societies in order to have the ecosystem goods and services required to improve their economies and quality of life.

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

Although a complex issue, the resource provides just enough information for students to gain an appreciation of the direct and indirect drivers that threaten biodiversity.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

Suggestions are given for practical and political action as well as to educate and inform.

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
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

The "Did You Know?" fact boxes provide students with real live stories which foster empathy and respect for people struggling with poverty.

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

Although no out-of-doors experience is included, the central theme is protecting the earth's resources as a way to maintain biodiversity and improve living conditions. Environmental stewardship is encouraged.

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 Good

Involvement in local action projects is encouraged.

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

Present-day situations are evaluated and students are asked to play a role in implementing an action plan to address the problem of threatened biodiversity on the planet. The future is seen as positive only if societies start to value the preservation of ecosystems, as their sustainability provides the footing for development.

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 students are guided toward action but are not steered toward any "right" answer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Although based on the topic of biodiversity, this is very much a social studies, geography and language arts resource. Science teachers could certainly incorporate this into any ecosystem/ biodiversity unit as well.

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

Knowledge is built on their own in this reading and reflecting resource. There are no manipulation of objects or lab activities, but some opportunities are provided for students to experience "ah-hah" events as they examine the relationship between their own personal choices, threats to biodiversity and poverty around the world.

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 teaches to both the cognitive and affective domains. It does not address a range of learning styles, but the teacher could choose to make the readings either self-directed or a group task, depending on the strength and reading levels of their class. There are no accommodations suggested for students with learning difficulties.

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

Poor- the resource does not include experiential learning opportunities

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

Group learning strategies are not a priority, but teacher instructions could easily be tailored for group work.

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

Poor- the resource has chapter ending activities of a formative nature if evaluated, but no reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, or any other tools are provided. The resource focuses on encouraging action.

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
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 Good

Although brief, the"Did you Know?" boxes found within each chapter provide brief information about actual issues around the world. They are very effective in describing concepts in an authentic context. Links are provided for each box so students can gather more details.

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 Good

Students do not have much control over elements in the first four chapters but in chapter five they choose their own action plan and design it.

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.