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The Plastic We Eat

Learning Package 3

Elementary, Middle

Description

The Plastic We Eat is the third resource from 10 000 Changes in which students will discuss what they eat, where their food comes from, and how that food is transported from the source to their homes. Through a series of activities, the resource aims to teach students how to decrease their use of products containing microplastics and to help make a difference in preserving the environment.

Students will complete a list of food that they have consumed over a week and then use grocery flyers to determine where the food comes from.  They will place images of the food on a world map with a string linking it to their hometown.  The students will then discuss how plastics play a role in the transportation of food items.  Afterwards, the students will watch the video "How Much Plastic Are We Eating?" and explore the infographic to learn more about how plastics and microplastics affect the food we eat.  Next, the students will walk around their school and create an action plan and timeline for ways to cut down on plastic consumption. The students will then prepare a short presentation for the school principal to discuss their action plan and how they can turn it into a reality. As a culminating activity, the students will discuss ways to take action on plastics and select one action item for their classroom, school or community.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The lesson plan is engaging as the students will examine their own habits and create a plan to make a difference.
  • The quality of the resources provided in the lesson plan is extremely good with colourful graphics and a short engaging video.
  • The lesson plan is well structured with all of the necessary materials.
  • There are suggestions for extension ideas and activities.

Weaknesses

  • There is a lack of concrete assessment materials for teachers to use.
  • There are no suggestions for learners who may struggle with the material.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This lesson could be used as a stand alone resource in the Science or Social Studies classroom to introduce students to the concept of microplastics.  It could also be used in conjunction with the other learning packages offered by 10 000 Changes as a unit of study.  

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.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 5
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        • Freshwater and Saltwater Systems
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        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment
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        • Science 3.Our Local Environment: Science Technology Society and Environment (STSE)
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        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth
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        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
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        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth

Themes Addressed

  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students explore ways plastics are connected to the food that they eat and discover the association between microplastics and food.

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
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 video and infographic show the complexity of microplastics in our food.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

As the final activity for the lesson, the students will choose one action item for their classroom, school or community and make a plan for ways to reduce the use of plastic.  

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

Throughout the activities the students are given opportunities to discuss the issues of plastics and at the end of the lesson they are given an opportunity to act on their ideas.

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 is not a focus for this resource.

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
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 plan that the students will create has a focus on their classroom, their school or their community with a goal of reducing the amount of plastic used.

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 resource does a good job of creating a sense of the present and a positive vision for the future but the teacher will have to develop an understanding of the past with the class.

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 activities allow the students to explore the topic of plastics and their food by the discussion of open ended discussion questions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
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 Satisfactory
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 Poor/Not considered

There are no suggestions for students who may experience difficulties with the material.

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 Good

After examining their habits with regards to food and plastics, the students conduct an audit of the school and create a plan focusing on reducing the plastic consumed. 

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 Good

There are some suggestions made for assessment of student learning but there are no concrete tools that the teacher can use.

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
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 Poor/Not considered

This is not included in this resource.

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

There is limited choice within the activities of this resource.

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.