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Top Crop is an interactive, online game based on the scenario that the students have been asked to help agricultural leaders figure out the best way to provide more healthy food for a growing human population using sustainable agriculture techniques. Players compete to see who can create the most sustainable farm, one that produces high yields while at the same time protecting the environment. Through a series of virtual growing seasons, they experience the challenges farmers face such as pests, disease and weather. Students must take on the role of farmer-scientist to collect and analyze information on what techniques and technologies are available. At the end of each growing season (or round) points are awarded based on the decisions they made.
The accompanying Educator’s Guide provides extensive subject matter background, learning objectives, teaching and discussion ideas, additional activities and links to supplementary information for students.
The game will require some trial and error in the beginning and teachers should be very familiar with its operation and prepared to help students navigate the simulation. Students should have a solid understanding of the vocabulary and content provided in the educator’s guide prior to launching the game.
This resource will appeal to teachers looking for engaging activities to support teaching units addressing human impact on the environment.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Very Good|
Students are provided with a comprehensive amount of reliable information.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Very Good|
The focus of the lesson is sustainable agriculture. The goal of the simulation is to farm sustainably. To do so the students must balance increase yields with protecting the environment.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
The background provided in the educator's resource is comprehensive and reflects the complexity of the issues. The extent of the challenge to grow enough food to feed 9.7 billion people by 2050 without doing significant damage to the planet is made clear.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Poor/Not considered|
Action projects are not included in this resource.
|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
During and after the game, students are expected to reflect on the decisions they made.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
|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|
Students are made well aware of the connection between agriculture and the environment. Students must consider the environmental damage that can result from the farming decisions they are considering.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The experiential nature of the simulation connects students to the issue. While the lesson presents in a global context (feeding the growing global population) there are suggestions for connecting to local farming and food security issues in discussions before and after students play the game.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Good|
The resource presents a very thorough examination of modern agriculture. Attention is also given to the past and present role played by technology and what we can expect in the future.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
There is no attempt to hide the environmental impact of modern agriculture. The simulation requires students deal with the reality that growing more food while protecting the environment is extremely complex and challenging.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
Top Crop addresses outcomes in Science, Technology and Geography.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
In this simulation, students are presented with a challenge and provided with access to information and tools to address it. Success will depend on the decisions they make.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
Following the suggestions in the Educator's Guide will yield a range of instructional approaches to address different learning styles.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
Top Crop is an online simulation in which students take on the role of farmer-scientists.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning||Poor/Not considered|
Group learning strategies are not emphasized in this resource.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Poor/Not considered|
Ideas for post game debriefing are provided but the resource does not offer assessment suggestions or tools.
|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.|
Opportunities for peer teaching exist in some of the post game activities.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
Several case studies have been included in the background information.
|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|
Within the simulation itself, students make all of the decisions on how to apply the data and information provided.
|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.|