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Identifying and Analyzing Sustainability Problems

Secondary

Description

In this three-day lesson students learn about sustainability, the challenges that sustainability problems present and the competencies required to solve them.

Day one focuses on the three pillars of sustainable development. Students consider some of the major sustainability challenges we currently face and why the interaction of these dimensions creates especially complex or ‘wicked’ problems.

On day two students look closely at one such sustainability problem. After watching a video describing e-waste students are guided through a systems-thinking approach to analyze the causes, consequences and potential sustainable solutions.

Students participate in a jigsaw activity on day three to identify the competencies necessary to successfully address sustainability problems. Then, as a culminating activity they prepare and present a comprehensive solution to e-waste in their own communities.

The detailed lesson plan is supported by a slide presentation, and printable handouts for each activity.

NOTE: A link to download the handouts used in Step 5 can be found here

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Collaboration
  • Problem solving
  • Systems Thinking
  • Action planning

Strengths

  • The resource helps fill the void in lessons for teaching the nature, importance and promise of sustainable development
  • The resource is student-centered and provides excellent support for both learner and teacher
  • The resource is thorough and easy to use.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

In those courses across the curriculum that address issues in sustainable development, this resource will provide an excellent starting point.  It also offers a meaningful way to introduce students to the sustainable development goals.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studies 10-1(Perspectives on Globalization) Globalization & Sustainable Prosperity
        • Social Studies 10-2 (Living in a Globalizing World) Globalisation and Sustainable Prosperity
        • Social Studies 10-4 (Living in a Globalizing World) Globalisation and Sustainable Prosperity
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Analyzing data from a variety of sources allows us to better understand our globally connected world
        • Social Justice: Social justice issues are interconnected.
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Computer Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Computer Science: Human Relations
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Computer Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Computer Science Senior 4: Human Relations
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Resources, Energy, and Environment
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Issues 120:Interdependence
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studies 3201: Quality of Life
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studies 10-1(Perspectives on Globalization) Globalization & Sustainable Prosperity
        • Social Studies 10-2 (Living in a Globalizing World) Globalisation and Sustainable Prosperity
        • Social Studies 10-4(Living in a Globalizing World) Globalisation and Sustainable Prosperity
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studies 10-1(Perspectives on Globalization) Globalization & Sustainable Prosperity
        • Social Studies 10-2 (Living in a Globalizing World) Globalisation and Sustainable Prosperity
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Computer Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Computer Studies (Open) Computers and Society
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Computer Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Computer Science Programming (College Prep.) Computers and Society
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Reducing and Managing Waste
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Computer Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Computer Programming (College Prep.) Computers and Society
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Sustainability of Natural Resources
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
        • Environmental Science 621A: Introduction to Environmental Science
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
        • Geography 631A Global Issues: What are the issues?
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Contemporary World: Environment
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Analyzing data from a variety of sources allows us to better understand our globally connected world
        • Social Justice: Social justice issues are interconnected.

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Waste Management (2)

    • Cradle-to-Cradle
    • Hazardous Waste

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students are encouraged to listen to and consider all of the information and points of view provided through the activities and group discussions.

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

A core component of this look at sustainability is the complex interrelationships of these three pillars of sustainability.  Systems thinking is explained and practiced.

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 Very Good

The case study on e-waste and the attention given to five key competencies needed to successfully address it, highlight the complexity of sustainability problems.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Action planning is one of the key competencies for addressing sustainability problems that the resource focuses on. The follow-through to implementation is not included.

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 Very Good

"Values Thinking" is one of the five competencies for addressing sustainability problems that is emphasized in this resource.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

Attention given to the Sustainable Development Goals in Step one provides a meaningful opportunity to encourage empathy and respect and promote the value of diversity.

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

Activities related to the case study on e-waste should help foster an appreciation for the natural world.

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

As a culminating activity students apply the skills/competencies necessary for solving sustainability problems to e-wast solutions in their own communities.

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 Poor/Not considered

While a longitudinal lens is absent from the discussion of sustainability, students are provided with an understanding of its promise for the future.

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

The resource stresses that issues in sustainability lead to 'wicked' problems with complex solutions requiring multiple competencies.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

The resource supports the teaching of content and skills in science, geography and social studies.

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

There are a number of guided inquiry activities in which students are provided with questions to explore and various tools to use. 

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

Students work individually and in small and large group settings.  The lessons are mostly student centered and involve a range of learning approaches.

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 Satisfactory

Students are required to apply what they have learned about sustainability  to develop solutions to e-waste problems in their own community.

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 collaboratively in small groups to develop solutions and present them to the class.

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

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.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

A major responsibility of the students is to develop solutions to the e-waste problem and present them to their peers.

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

A case study describing the current 'cradle to grave' life cycle of electronics provides the context for the student investigation and action planning.

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

Few opportunities are provided.

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.
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