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Penguins on Thin Ice

Secondary, Middle

Description

Penguins on Thin Ice is an eclectic web site put together by the non-profit organization, Irthlingz Arts Based Environmental Education and offers a musical review about climate change. This musical revue consists of a compilation of songs and scripts designed for student performances at grade 8-12 levels. Along with a complete script and mp3s files from the show, the site offers tips on staging and productions techniques. As well, downloadable feedback forms for both performers and audience members are provided. Other information on the site includes in-depth writings on sustainable energy and development, rainforests and other threatened habitats as well as "Just Transition", a labour practice that proposes "green" training for workers left unemployed after a shut down of unsustainable work. The site also includes a video performance of the musical by students of the High School for Environmental Studies in New York, for delegates to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, May 4, 2007.

There is a fee for producing Penguins on Ice but terms are generous as the Irthingz foundation wants to see this play and its others (found under the "Earthlingz Projects" link) used extensively in environmental education.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • acting/presentation skills 
  • all the elements and principles of design

Strengths

  • With the musical score and the theme of penguins, the resource is quite interesting for young people. The amount of information is very good and takes into consideration the fact that youngsters can be easily overwhelmed by all the bad news on climate change.

Weaknesses

  • There is not enough moving around on the stage for my taste. I would personally add more movement and more visuals to make it as lively as possible. The amount of information is good but needs to be "jazzed up."

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (2)

    • Community-Building and Participation
    • Ecological Footprint
  • Energy (1)

    • Alternative Energy
  • Waste Management (1)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory
  • The design of this product is meant to present a certain point of view. As a performance/educational tool, its goals are somewhat single minded.
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
  • Many different aspects of the problems of climate change are acknowledged.
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 message is fervent in its attitudes toward positive change and the ability of young people to make these changes. The complexity of how this is to be done is not addressed.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
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 Poor/Not considered
  • This is a play which the students are expected to perform.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • This resource fosters empathy and respect for the Earth's non-human populations, i.e. animals.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • While the play does encourage personal affinity with non-humans and the Earth, it does not take place out-of-doors.
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 encourages involvement of the audience through its impassioned spoken words and music.
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
  • The present and the future are given emphasis.
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 Satisfactory
  • The site, Penguins on Ice, offers links to information that is complex and thought provoking; however, the intention of the site is clearly to address the need for people, especially youth, to become involved in the problems and issues of climate change.
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 uses the medium of stage production and music to deliver and address the difficult issues of climate change.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • The pacing of the production leads the audience on a journey of knowledge building. Feedback forms given to performers and audience would help build a feedback system for the students on their success.
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 Very Good
  • The play itself uses many of the intelligences not often addressed in regular educational settings. Music, humour, and visual imagery invigorate the difficult material and issues around climate change.
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 Very Good
  • Certainly for the performers themselves, the experience will be authentic.
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 Very Good
  • The play will not succeed without maximum cooperative learning.
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 Good
  • The quality of the performance is the assessment. As well, there are feedback forms meant to be completed by both the performers and audience. These would contribute to authentic assessment.
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
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
  • The play is based on real life incidences.
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
  • The site provides quality in-depth information as well as links to further studies of the issues.
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.