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Through Study, Art, Action: Raising Awareness of Environmental Racism

Secondary

Description

In this five-lesson plan unit, students explore how environmental degradation disproportionately affects marginalized communities, reflect on the sacredness of water and create art to communicate a message of environmentalism.

Students will:

  • develop an understanding of environmental racism and its place in the degradation of water resources and their activism
  • do a guided viewing of Elemental, a film that “tells the story of three individuals united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time”
  • examine news stories that discuss safe versus clean water, the impacts of environmental racism, equity issues in access to safe water, and who is responsible for addressing environmental and water issues

At the end of the unit students will create, through art, essay, poetry, and/or letter writing campaigns, a personal message of environmental activism with an overarching representation of water as sacred and as an issue of environmental justice/environmental racism. Students may create their project on a local, national, or global environmental issue.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • Each lesson in the resource clearly states its learning outcomes, description of the activity, materials needed, preparation and assessment options
  • Wide range of learning styles incorporated into the lessons
  • The resource is well organized and easy to use
  • A variety of assessment suggestions are provided
  • Students examine global, national, and local environmental water crises and the communities affected

Weaknesses

  • No modification for diverse learners is provided
  • Action projects are not fully developed or supported
  • The resource does not include outdoor activities

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
        • Environmental Science 11:Humans can play a role in stewardship and restoration of ecosystems
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 12: Human actions affect the quality of water and its ability to sustain life.
      • Social Studies
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        • Social Justice: Individual worldviews shape and inform our understanding of social justice issues.
        • Social Justice: The causes of social injustice are complex and have lasting impacts on society
      • Visual Art
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        • Visual Arts: Studio Arts 2D 12: Visual arts are an essential element of culture and personal identity.

Themes Addressed

Human Health & Environment (2)

  • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Environmental Justice

Human Rights (1)

  • Social Justice

Water (2)

  • Water Quality
  • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Incorporating actual case studies and current data is crucial in helping students develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. Students can form informed opinions and make well-rounded decisions by analyzing real-life scenarios, (three stories of place and activism for water resources, pollution, and systems to mitigate climate change) and up-to-date information,( texts, and resources that explore local water systems and environmental issues.) This approach enhances their understanding of the subject matter and prepares them for real-world challenges and situations.

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

Students study systems and issues holistically, striving to understand the relationships and interactions between each system’s parts. They use the knowledge gained to assess the effects of human choices on economic, ecological and social systems, and to optimize outcomes for all three systems.

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 right to clean water is both an environmental and social issue. It is a fundamental right. Students will develop an understanding of environmental racism and its place in the degradation of water resources and their activism. They will identify the source of their community drinking water and the importance of watershed management.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

Students will have the opportunity to explore and write about their connection to a home community and their personal environmental activism and seek to identify environmental racism in their community. Through art, essays, poetry, and letter writing, they create a personal message of environmental activism with an overarching representation of water as sacred and an issue of environmental justice/environmental racism.

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

Through journaling, large and small group discussion, and exploration of multimedia resources, students will incorporate what they’ve learned previously to approach local issues of water degradation and the communities affected

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

Students reflect on the interdependence of humans and the environment, and appreciate the interconnectedness of environmental quality and human well-being.

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

Although there are no outdoor activities suggested, the information provided such as the photographs of Flint and images in the video can evoke strong emotions in students and enhance the learning experience.

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

Students identify the source of their community drinking water and the importance of watershed management and oversight.

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 resources present past problems with unhealthy water, as discussed in case studies. However, current statistics and water policies show progress towards healthier water supplies. We must continue to monitor and treat our water supplies to ensure a positive future. This responsibility falls on individuals, communities, and governments alike. Students examine global, national, and local environmental water crises and the communities affected.

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

Students examine global, national, and local environmental water crises and the communities affected. They think critically about environmental activism to address the crises and how they can participate. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good
  • Art
  • Visual Art
  • Social Studies
  • Environmental Science
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

Students are guided with essential questions for each activity and lesson plan.

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 lessons include a range of learning styles such as visual, auditory and kinesthetic. The lesson plans provide videos, photographs, journaling, creating art, essay, poetry, and/or letter writing campaigns.

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 Poor/Not considered
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

Small group work and group discussions

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 Very Good

This unit is assessed through following formative and summative assessments. The resource provides a variety of rubrics.

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 Good

Students will have an opportunity to work in pairs to give feedback to one another’s work. They will have an opportunity to display and/or perform their final performance project.

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

Relevant case studies are included such as the Fall of Flint and Chemical Valley in Ontario.

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 Poor/Not considered

At the end of the unit, students will have created, through art, essay,  poetry, and/or letter writing campaigns, a personal message of environmental activism with an overarching representation of water as sacred and as an issue of environmental justice/environmental racism. Students may create their project on a local, national, or global environment issue.

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.