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Pulling for Biodiversity


Elementary, Middle


Examples used in "Pulling for Biodiversity" are specific to Ontario.

It introduces the concept of invasive species, and explains in an interactive and engaging manner why they are destructive and what can done about them. 


  • Activity 1. What Are Invasive Species? Through a matching exercise, students evaluate species’ similarities and differences, categorizing species as either native, introduced/non-invasive, and invasive.
  • Activity 2. Musical Mussels. Students role-play lake animals in a version of musical chairs to discover how and why invasive species spread so easily.
  • Activity 3. Crayfish Conundrum. Through an active simulation game, students experience the dynamics of invasive introductions and population fluctuations within a simple aquatic system, focusing on Rusty Crayfish.
  • Activity 4. Garlic Mustard Invasion. Students become plants and compete for resources with this specific forest invader, and discover why it is so successful.
  • Activity 5. Managing Invasive Species. Students will learn about either Garlic Mustard or Rusty Crayfish, and then come up with ways to remove them or limit their spread. If students will be engaged in IBD activities, a connection will be made to the actions that they will undertake in the field.

General Assessment


  • The activities will engage students.
  • The background information is sufficient for the teacher.
  • The resource is specific and easy to follow.


  • There is an insufficient number of student information cards in activity one. Class sizes are often larger than 24. Teachers could provide duplicate cards to students, but better to introduce as many local species as possible.
  • The activity cards could be double sided to include more information about each creature. Information could be categorized and include: TEK for native species, social and economic concerns, etc...The cards could then be laminated and used for many activities in an ESD classroom.
  • The resource activities do not explicitly explore the multiple dimensions of the issue.
  • The resource activities are excellent explorations with some ideas for discussion but are without opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding. Teachers will need develop this on their own.

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.

Themes Addressed

Ecosystems (2)

  • Biodiversity
  • Invasive Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • Supports ESD beliefs and values.
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 Satisfactory
  • The activities focus almost exclusively on exploring the environmental dimensions of the issue.
  • Economic and social issues are included in the teacher notes and to some extent, in the extension activities.
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 activities demonstrate an interconnection of species with the aquatic environment.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
  • Actions are suggested for managing the spread of invasive species but students are not provided an explicit opportunity to do anything with the information they are accumulating.
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 Good
  • Before the first activity commences students have opportunity to explore their personal response to not getting their needs met. This may foster empathy for native species.
  • students do not have an explicit opportunity to revisit their values.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • Not applicable to the lesson.
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
  • The games could easily be played in the 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 Very Good
  • The lesson tackles local Ontario issues.
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 history of the introduction of the focus species is provided in the extensive teacher notes. Familiarity with these stories will be important in order to accurately address student questions.
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 lessons use structured inquiry.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
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
  • Even though the lesson is structured, the playfulness of the activities allow students to 'discover' the key learning points.
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 Good
  • The activities are highly kinesthetic.
  • Modifications and adaptation ideas are not provided.
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
  • The activities are simulations.  Educative action ideas are offered as an extension of lesson five.
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
  • No tools to capture assessment information are provided.
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 Poor/Not considered
  • The games do not provide explicit opportunity for peer teaching.
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 Very Good
  • The lessons centre on the Rusty Crayfish and Garlic Mustard, the two species targeted for action in Ontario on or near to the IBD.
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 resource does not provide opportunities for student's to go deeper unless the teacher decides on completing extension activities.
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.