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Water Quality Must Be Monitored & Interpreted

Elementary, Middle

Description

These three lessons from the compilation Healthy Water Healthy People focus on the collection and interpretation of water quality data over time and space. Students use contour maps and value data to learn about the cause and effect of turbidity; they also project the possible impacts of developing a shoreline.

Lesson One: A Snapshot in Time - students explore watersheds using topographic maps and evaluate and graph watershed data to analyze, compare and summarize trends.

Lesson Two - Turbidity or Not Turbidity? - students compare turbidity of muddy and clear water and participate in a simulation to investigate erosion and ways to reduce erosion that lead to turbidity in adjacent waterways.

Lesson Three - Footprints on the Sand - students decide and describe how they would develop a piece of beachfront property and identify pollutants as a result of the development. Aspects of interconnectedness are then introduced for students to consider in relation to identified contamination.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • how to read topographic maps
  • how to identify erosion and causes of erosion
  • how to test for turbidity
  • how to identify contaminant point of origin

Strengths

  • the lessons are sequentially written, easy to understand and follow, and they are all thoroughly teacher tested
  • the science focus for these lessons provide students the opportunity to practice the skills associated with a methodical approach and to form concepts and beliefs for themselves
  • there is a wealth of teacher background information accompanying each lesson
  • the lessons are written so that most students can be successful
  • the resource has excellent appendices
  • supplemental material kits are available for purchase
  • ideas for making the work more challenging are provided, which will be particularly helpful for teachers of students in the higher grades

Weaknesses

  • the inquiry in these lessons is guided
  • the resource is written for an American audience; web resources are all American and, therefore, further research is needed to find Canadian sources
  • the assessment section is useful for matching the lesson to local curriculum learning outcomes but it does not suggest how a teacher might assess lesson activities for learning
  • no adaptations for easing the work are provided

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Themes Addressed

  • Water (1)

    • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • the bias is that we must look after and manage our water resources
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 Good
  • ecological, health and economic aspects are addressed
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 Good
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
  • an extension idea is to monitor water quality at a local beach
  • there is a grade 9-12 lesson in this package (not reviewed here) that gets students monitoring local waters; it may be appropriate for some mature grade eight classes who have knowledgable teachers
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 Satisfactory
  • open-ended questions are provided to aid initial discussion and sharing of beliefs.
  • students are invited to discuss and work with their findings in a variety of group configurations
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 Very Good
  • the erosion simulation activity takes place outside in a manner that raises awareness regarding the damage that can be caused to rivers and streams.
  • some extension ideas require students to be 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
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 past does not figure prominently in the lessons
  • lessons are rooted in creating a future that is mindful
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
  • lessons use a combination of structured and guided 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 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 Good
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 experiences are simulations
  • the provided data is fabricated to resemble that of a northern latitude state or Canadian province
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 Satisfactory
  • students complete interesting tasks that contain elements of reflection
  • ideas for teacher assessment methods are not included
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
  • using jigsaw-styled activities, students use their information cards to augment the learning of others in two of the three lessons
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 Satisfactory
  • the case study used for the data analysis lesson is fabricated so that it may be relevant to more users
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
  • all lesson activities are structured with room for creativity and independent thought
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.