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Based on the popular "Murder Handshake" game, this resource provides students with an opportunity to learn how invasive species affect our environment. The lesson specifically focuses on the invasive European Common Reed (Phragmites australis) which is severely impacting wetlands in some regions of Canada. The plant crowds out native vegetation, thus destroying local habitat. Using a wetland food web as a model and the "Alien Invader" game to demonstrate impacts, students learn that all living things are connected and the loss of even one species can affect many other species. Assessment questions at the end of the lesson determine the level of student understanding regarding biological diversity and the impacts of invasive species. Students also consider action strategies that can help reduce the threat of invasive species.
In this activity based resource students will:
This resource would enhance any unit that examines biodiversity, habitats, or interactions within ecosystems. As a follow up to the lesson, students could select one particular invasive species and do an internet research project where they identify the potential impacts of that species on a wetland or forest ecosystem.
If a school is close to a wetland area students could participate in a field survey where they collect data about the relative abundance of invasive plants such as European Common Reed or Purple Loosestrife. A local biologist could be invited into the classroom to help students with their data collection and presentation. If students discover a problem in the wetland area they survey, they could present their results to a local organization concerned with this issue such as a watershed association.
After participating in the Alien Invaders lesson students could prepare a school-wide awareness campaign with posters that identify invasive species and methods to control their spread.
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||Good|
This resource presents the issue of invasive species as an experience where students can develop their own ideas about human impacts on the spread and distribution of these species.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
The food web activity, game and subsequent discussion explore the environmental and social aspects of habitat loss. Students are also given an opportunity to brainstorm solutions to the invasive species problem.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
Students are able to self discover the complex aspects of habitat loss that results from the presence of invasive species.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Satisfactory|
Students identify actions that can be taken at home to reduce the spread of invasive species , but no specific action opprtunities are supported by the 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
The topic is presented in such a way that supports student consideration of their own viewpoints regarding the control of invasive species, however the resource only profiles scientific viewpoints related to the issue. Other groups affected by invasive species such as farmers and anglers are not represented in the resource.
|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 considered in 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|
Students are encouraged to be concerned with the destructive impacts of invasive species on the health of ecosystems.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
This resource does an excellent job of being relevant to the lives of students living in regions affected by the European Common Reed. In some areas of Canada other invasive species such as Purple Loosestrife are a more significant threat. However, a teacher could readily adapt this resource to focus on other invasive species.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
The resource includes a small amount of historical information about the introduction of European Common Reed and students consider how the continual spread of this species could impact wetlands in the future.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
Students have several opportunities for unrestricted dialogue throughout the lesson. They are also able to process new learning and ideas independently.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
This resource is strictly a science resource although a teacher could incorporate language arts by having students present or write about their new ideas.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
The game helps students enjoy learning about the topic of invasive species by actively engaging them in the process. The class discussion afterwards requires the students to think critically about the topic.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
There are no suggestions for accommodations in the resource, however the game structure of the activities should meet the needs of a variety of learning styles.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The activities simulates ecological damage from invasive species but there is no direct learning within a wetland ecosystem.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
In the "Alien Invaders" game students are dependent on each other for information. In the class discussions the students have an opportunity to evaluate each other's ideas.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Poor/Not considered|
The only assessment opportunity presented in this lesson is the whole class discussion at the end of each activity.
|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|
Not considered in this resource
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Poor/Not considered|
Not considered 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||Poor/Not considered|
This resource is presented as a whole class activity and there are no extensions included with the 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.|