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Students learn about the world's largest "landfill," make a connection to their own lives, and calculate how much trash they generate in a week, a year, ten years.
The skills involved are those associated with the collection and interpretation of data.
The lesson plan focuses student's attention on a global issue of growing concern by using a local case study that is both personal and effective.
The activity may be used in those units of study that focus on
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|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives
The lesson is essentially an exercise in data collection and interpretation in which both the data and the interpretation are generated by the students.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions
While the focus of the lesson is on the environmental impact of our use of plastics, teachers may explore the economic and social reasons for our reliance on plastics and the consequences in each of these areas of a strategy to reduce or eliminate our addiction to plastics. The lesson plan is an effective starting point for such a conversation.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The drilling down exercise required to acknowledge the complexity of the issue is the teacher's responsibility. It is the teacher who should ask students to consider why we use plastics, the possible alternatives to plastics, the cost/ benefits of reducing or eliminating our dependence on plastics, who (government, corporations, individuals) must assume the responsibility for any change in current practices.
National Geographic does reference other resources that would help teachers and students pursue these questions in some depth.
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning
The aim of the lesson is to have students recognize the amount of plastic they produce individually and the cumulative effect of their own use and that of others. Such knowledge, while not a guarantee of appropriate action, is, nevertheless, a pre-requisite to changing one's behaviour and lobbying to change that of others.
|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
Class discussion about our use of plastics may be expected to have students consider what value they attach to convenience and to the environment and what are the ethical implications of their individual actions - eco-ethics.
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans
|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
The lesson helps students recognize the link between their daily lives (plastic consumption and disposal) and the natural world (marine environments).
|Personal Affinity with Earth:
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The lesson helps students recognize the link between the local (student use of plastics) and the global (deterioration of marine environments). It is an exericse in the principle, " think globally and act locally".
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future
The lesson has students to recognize our current dependency on plastics and to consider changes that improve the future of our marine environments.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.
The lesson has a limited goal - to have students recognize their individual and collective use of plastics and the implications of that use for the environment. While limited, this is a necessary first step in having students, in subsequent lessons, explore the reasons for our use of plastics, their environmental impact, and the alternatives to our current usage.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
This lesson, while introductory, opens the possibility for extending the lesson to have students consider the chemical properties of plastics(chemistry), the resources that are used in the making of plastics (geography), what happens as plastics break down (chemistry), the role of plastics in the marine food chain (biology), the cost/benefits of using materials other than plastics to meet our needs (economics), the question as to whether the issue may be resolved by individuals, corporations or governments (political science).
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Students are presented with a question - How much plastic do they consume? - and, with teacher guidance, set about to answer that question. Other questions may arise as the lesson proceeds - What is the consequence of our use of plastics? What can we do to reduce or eliminate our dependency on plastics? Who has the responsibility for addressing the problems associated with our use of plastics?
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
This is a concrete, tactile, hands on lesson. Students bring their garbage to school, record the data generated, extrapolate that data to a larger setting and discuss the implications of that data.
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
Students investigate the issue of plastic use by collecting, recording and analyzing their own use of plastics.
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Students work together to record their collective plastic use, consider the harm done to the environment by the disposal of plastic, and share what they have learned from the activity.
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation
Student assessment is informal. Teachers rate students on a scale of one to five on their participation
|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.
Students cooperate to collect and interpret data and share what they have learned from the activity.
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
This is a case study of a designated group's use of plastics, the results of which are extrapolated to the larger society.
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
The teacher proposes a question for class investigation - How much plastic do we use? - and the students proceed to answer the question. Pursuing the implications of their findings may be driven by further questions from the teacher or students themselves.
|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.