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Gulf Oil Spill-Middle School Version

Middle

Description

This ESD resource uses lessons learned from the Gulf oil spill to promote environmental stewardship.  Classroom activities examine the implications of society's reliance on oil and encourage students to do their part in protecting our planet's water.

Using the internet, classroom and library resources, students explore some of the different forms petroleum takes on as a component or ingredient in various manufactured products as well as some of the health and environmental concerns associated with the use and disposal of these products.  Finally, students explore connections between the Gulf oil spill and consumer choices and suggest ways to minimize the harmful effects of petroleum and petroleum-derived products.

The lesson is divides into four parts- Engage, Explore, Extend and Evaluate. A brief description of each part follows:

Engage: Students draw a concept map showing what they know about petroleum. They then make a list of items they believe contain petroleum products which they then compare to a list of common consumer products. Students write a journal summary of their findings.

Explore: Working in groups students use the Internet to research one of the consumer products to find what components/ingredients in their make-up are derived from petroleum and summarize the specific health/environmental concerns associated with them. They are asked to consider the creation, transportation, use and disposal of the selected item. After group presentations, discussion questions encourage students to consider ways in which humans can reduce or minimize the negative effects of petroleum-derived products.

Extend: The class is divided into 6 groups and each group is given an article from the Energy Kids Website to summarize. Topics include oil basics, getting oil, offshore drilling, what fuels are made from crude oil, the refining process and oil and the environment. After class presentations, students read and summarize articles which focus on strategies to reduce oil consumption.

Evaluation: Students are given evaluation questions to focus attention on the need to make personal changes that will reduce their dependency on petroleum and petroleum-based products.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Identifying main themes
  • Working cooperatively with group members to develop and carry out a plan
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Using a variety of sources and technologies to gather information
  • Reading and viewing of different text
  • Engaging in and responding to oral presentations
  • Analyzing one's use of consumer products

Strengths

  • Package is up-to-date and very relevant in our oil-based North American economy
  • Good background information is provided
  • Additional resources provide valuable links for both the teacher and students
  • Lessons are sequential and easy to understand
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue and incidental peer teaching
  • The list of consumer products derived form oil is powerful and eye-opening and will generate interest on the topic
  • Open-ended solutions
  • Gives the students a sense of empowerment in dealing with issues of oil dependency
  • Step by step instructions are provided to the teacher
  • A personal connection is made between consumer choices and oil production
  • Discussion questions are provided

Weaknesses

  • Reading levels may be challenging for some students
  • Assessment tools must be developed by the teacher
  • No authentic action plan
  • Needs to be more opportunities for students to identify, clarify, and express their own values
  • First Nations issues are not addressed
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling learners
  • Written for an American audience.
  • No  experiential learning opportunities
  • No out-of-doors experience

Relevant Curriculum Units

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 7
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        • Freshwater and Saltwater Systems
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        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
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        • Water Systems on Earth
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        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth
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        • Natural Resources around the World: Use and Sustainability
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        • Life Systems: Interactions in the Environment
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        • Earth and Space Systems: Water Systems
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  • Saskatchewan
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
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        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Ecological Footprint
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Water (2)

    • Marine Environments
    • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Students are given information on common consumer products containing petroleum products and the environmental risks associated with oil extraction, refining, and transporting and asked to draw their own conclusions. The points of view of government, oil companies, and environmental activists were 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 Good

The resource links the environmental issue of oil pollution, as a threat to water quality and ecosystems, to society's economic dependence on oil and oil-based products.

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 approach promotes dialogue and discussions within groups of students. Although it does not examine all aspects of the issue, it encourages open-ended solutions and relates environmental problems associated with oil and oil products to individual lifestyle choices.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Poor- no authentic action plan

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

Group discussions do provide some opportunities to clarify and express values.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

Empathy is fostered for those whose lives and livelihoods were negatively impacted by the Gulf oil spill.

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

Although there is no out-of-doors experience, the resource does encourage the value of caring for the planet.

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

The resource emphasizes the question- " What is the connection to me?" This brings relevance to the learner.

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

The resource uses the environmental catastrophes caused by the BP oil spill to bring attention to the risks of offshore drilling. Students are asked to play a role in implementing measures to decrease our dependency on oil, so the need to continue this "high-risk" drilling in the future will lessen.

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

Students are encouraged to consider and develop their own thoughts, opinions, and solutions for reducing their dependency on petroleum and petroleum-based products.

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 primarily a science-based activity, there are also learning opportunities in geography 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 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 Satisfactory

There are no accommodations suggested for struggling learners and reading levels could be a problem for some students.  It does teach to both the cognitive and affective domains.

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- no 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
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-Reflection questions are provided, but tools to capture formative and summative information about student learning must be developed by the teacher.

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 Satisfactory

Relevant information is provided, but case studies lack detail and thorough descriptions.

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

The program content is mostly provided by the teacher but students do get the opportunity to choose elements of the program in some lessons.

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.