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This inquiry-based toolkit is designed to support and encourage teachers to integrate some of the concepts of sustainable development into teaching and learning. It focuses on using photographs and a range of active teaching and learning approaches and strategies to explore the themes of:
• Personal consumption
• Climate change
• Responsible living
This resource can be used to introduce or illustrate the concept of sustainable development in those units of study that deal with personal consumption and the related challenges created by our use of and disposal of natural resources.
The toolkit focuses on helping students develop the skills related to critical thinking, with particular emphasis given to asking appropriate questions and taking meaningful action.
The aim of the toolkit is to integrate some of the concepts of sustainable development into teaching and learning. It succeeds in part because the content used - an examination of personal consumption - has both interest and relevance for students and one that allows them to act on their increased awareness. It also succeeds because of the pedagogy adopted - transformative teaching - with its emphasis on student questioning as it relates to critical thinking.
The toolkit can be used to introduce or illustrate the concept of sustainable development in those units of study that deal with personal consumption and the related challenges created by our use of and disposal of natural resources. It also has particular application in those units that examine climate change. While the toolkit is presented as a package of six activities that have a common theme, it is possible for teachers to select particular activities suitable to their curriculum obligations.
The video series, The Story of Stuff, would help students further explore issues raised by the toolkit.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Very Good|
The toolkit is designed to have students consider the concept of sustainable lifestyles within the context of responsible living. The six activities included in the toolkit encourage students to generate their own ideas and questions about the choices they make as consumers; to recognize the competing perspectives of producers, sellers and consumers; and to take actions that will reflect a commitment to responsible living.
The common theme in each of these activities is not to provide students with answers but to have them think critically about the choices we make, the options available, and the consequences of a given option.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Very Good|
In examining the concept of sustainable lifestyles withing the context of responsible living and personal consumption, students are made to give due consideration to the economic, social and environmental impact of the choices they make as consumers. The toolkit activities asks students to consider these issues in researching and discussing the food we eat, our transportation choices, and the clothes we purchase. A role playing activity, Take a Stand on Global Warming and Climate Change, requires that they represent and reflect on the perspectives of the various players in the economy and in doing so recognize the economic, social and environmental considerations at play.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The toolkit is intended to initiate student discussion of their role as consumers. It encourages students to question and think critically about the options available to consumers and the implications attached to those choices. The level of sophistication and depth to which these questions are addressed depends upon the students and is likely to be somewhat preliminary given the complexities of the global food chain, the merits of different travel options, or the workings of the fashion industry; but it is a beginning and a good one.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Very Good|
Activity 2 (Visual Carousel) and Activity 3 (What's in Your Wardrobe?) conclude by having students consider the question - What personal lifestyle changes will you consider related to the topic/theme? Activity 4 (Take a Stand on Global Warming and Climate Change) concludes with having the student group discuss the problem of climate change and propose solutions to slow down global warming. Activity 5 (Take Action - Do Your Part to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) helps students explore ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
The common denominator in each of these activities is to ask students - Now that you know what you know, what are you going to do about it?
|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
The toolkit aims to have students adopt values and attitudes that inform their consumer choices and reflect an awareness of and respect for the needs of current and future generations.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Satisfactory|
Each of the activities in the toolkit provided an opportunity if not a requirement, for teachers to explore how one's choices as a consumer, affects others. Questions may be raised, for example, about the link between consumerism, energy consumption, climate change and people's health and livelihood or the link between the clothes we wear and the people who produce them.
The toolkit authors claim that the aim of responsible living is not only the betterment of our own quality of life, but actually being proactive in improving the quality of lives of others either directly or indirectly.
|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|
Student examination of their personal consumption patterns and the related concept of sustainable living requires that they consider the impact of their choices on the planet and its inhabitants and is intended to lead to actions that are motivated by a sense of stewardship.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The focus is on the student as a consumer and therefore, satisfies the requirement for relevancy. Local examples can be and are used to encourage student consideration of the impact of our choices with respect to food, travel, clothing.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
The toolkit is designed to have students understand how living responsibly today can ensure a better and more sustainable future.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
|Open-Ended Instruction||Very Good|
The toolkit has adopted the pedagogy associated with transformative teaching in which the teacher's role is to encourage student questioning and critical thinking. Students are charged with both asking and answering relevant questions and in doing so construct their own understanding, meaning and values.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
A study of our consumer choices and their impact will have relevance for a number of subjects. For example:
Economics - who is making the products we consume and what are their working conditions? is there an alternative (fair trade) to the current system?; how is demand created for these products?; what are the various steps in the supply and disposal chain?
Geography/ Environmental Science - where are the goods we consume produced, how do they get from producer to consumer and what is the associated"cost"?; what is the price paid in terms of natural capital for the production and disposal of consumer goods?;
Health - what health risks are associated with the production, consumption and disposal of the goods we consume?.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
|Inquiry Learning||Very Good|
The teacher's role in the various activities is to facilitate student learning by providing the necessary guidelines. The student is responsible for asking the relevant questions, seeking the answers to those questions and acting on the knowledge acquired. Critical thinking is encouraged by having students ask the questions
What is the problem?
Why is it a problem? how do I/we see it as a problem? Do others see it as a problem?
How do I want the problem to be solved? How do I/we take action?
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
A variety of instructional strategies are employed by the toolkit. Images, accompanied by worksheets are used to have students form their own questions about their personal consumption and to collect student responses to an idea, issue or scenario represented in a photograph. Students are asked to gather information about their clothing choices through a wardrobe review and reflect on how this links to sustainability. Role playing activities are used to have students understand the perspective of different groups with respect to climate change. Students work with others to research information and design a plan to reduce, reuse, and recycle consumer goods.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
A number of the activities take advantage of an experiential approach to learning. Activity #3 (What's in Your Wardrobe?) has students carry out a "wardrobe review", compare their findings with others, and reflect upon the results in the context sustainability. Activity #4 (Take a Stand on Global Warming and Climate Change) is a role playing exercise designed to have students understand the interests of different social groups with respect to climate change. Activity #5 (Take Action) helps students explore ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle and Activity #6 (Case Study - Before and After) asks students to reflect upon day to day life and how this links to sustainability.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Cooperative Learning is a critical part of the toolkit pedagogy. Certain activities require students to share and discuss questions they have generated as individuals; debate and select options that reflect group consensus; and adopt a plan of action. Other activities have students work in groups to generate ideas and critique each others efforts or to evaluate the implications of data gathered in a survey.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Good|
A number of activities conclude by having students evaluate and reflect on what they learned, what else they might like to explore and what personal changes they might consider as it relates to the theme or topic of the lesson. These debriefing sessions allow teachers an opportunity to assess student understanding. The lessons also generate a number of student "papers" - worksheets, action plans, etc. - that offer further insight into student understanding.
|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||Very Good|
The lessons in the toolkit place the teacher in the role of facilitator and places the responsibility for learning on the students. That learning takes place with students working in small and large groups to generate questions, seek answers, debate options for action, plan, carry out and evaluate options chosen.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
The toolkit concludes with the activity, Case Study -"Before and After", the aim of which is to help students reflect on different aspects of day to day life and how this links to sustainability. In this case, the teacher provides students with an imaginary context - two young people taking their dog for a walk - and a set of questions designed to have the class consider the elements of the walk in terms of climate change.
|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|
There is considerable opportunity for students to decide on the questions to be pursued, how answers may be found, how information might be shared, and what action to take to address perceived problems.
|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.|