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The Boreal Forest: A Global Legacy- Vol. 7

gr. 6 - 12

Secondary, Elementary, Middle

Description

This resource provides 8 lessons (primary to grade 12) on topics related to the Boreal Forest including the role of forests in sheltering and supporting wildlife species in Canada. The lessons follow the Pan-Canadian curriculum and are designed to focus on the grade units which include these issues. All lessons include a "hook" to capture interest, a summary, activity information, learning outcomes, teacher background, lesson descriptions and extensions.

  • Lesson 1 (middle level) - "Following the Caribou" introduces students to the life-cycle of the Porcupine caribou herd living in the northern Boreal region.
  • Lesson 2 (middle level to gr. 10) - "Boreal Medicine and More" investigates the non-timber products that have economic, spiritual, social and historical significance.
  • Lesson 3 (middle level) - "Boreal Superheroes" introduces and explores how behavioral and physical adaptations of two common species (one plant and one animal) allow each of them to survive in the boreal regions.
  • Lesson 4 (Primary - gr. 3) - "B is for Boreal" introduces some common boreal species
  • Lesson 5 (Sr. High) - "The Canadian Boreal: A World Heritage Site?" explores the criteria used to designate a World Heritage Site, and students ascertain how these apply to a proposed section of the northern Boreal Forest.
  • Lesson 6 (middle level) - "Boreal 101" considers the biological, cultural, geographical, economic and global aspects of Canada's boreal forest.
  • Lesson 7 (Sr. High) - "Fire: Agent of Change" analyzes the role and place of natural fires and prescribed burns in the management and natural life cycles of the boreal forest.
  • Lesson 8 (Primary to middle level) - "Boreal Footprints" provides students with the opportunity to make and interpret the footprints of common boreal species, and to create a boreal scene within a food chain - in analyzing a collection of tracks.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Co-operative brainstorming

  • Making summary statements

  • Research skills

Strengths

  • It is an interesting resource and each lesson provides an intriguing "hook" for students.
  • There is an excellent quantity and quality of background information, and support, for both teachers and students (age appropriate), especially in the suggested online resources.
  • The resource is very user friendly with all activity worksheets provided along with suggestions for assessments, further extension activities and a clear central purpose identified in every lesson.
  • The website also provides additional information with a User Guide which subdivides the various activities and categorizes them according to group activities, research, presentation, whole class, partners, and outdoor activities.
  • It is up-to-date as of 2005.

Weaknesses

  • Some schools may not have additional funding to buy the videos suggested throughout the resource - could these be loaned out for educational purposes?
  • More authentic action experiences could be incorporated.
  • More student choice allowed in learning the concepts of the lessons, especially in the higher grades.
  • Another lesson should be developed to look at the present and future challenges facing the Boreal regions - climate change, cultural shifts, environmental impacts by humans using resources (lumber, mining, hunting etc.)

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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Themes Addressed

  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Ecosystems (6)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Bioregionalism
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
    • Wildlife Protection
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Forests

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The resource has presented a well-rounded selection of perspectives.

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

Excellent presentation of the inter-connectedness between the environment, economic aspects, social and cultural aspects.

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 resource covers many dimensions of the importance and significance of the Boreal region and a systems approach is presented.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

The 8 lessons serve more as introductions to the various aspects of the Boreal Forest region, but there are no direct action opportunities presented.

Several of the extension suggestions could involve authentic experiences which could be shared with other students/community members.

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 class discussion and in several particular lessons (for example - lessons #2,5,6), students learn about many key factors which make the Boreal Forest unique, and how these factors are valued.
  • In this process, students come to recognize and perhaps better understand their own value system, and how their beliefs can be affected/altered/expressed within the activities of the lessons.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

Students may come to appreciate the different cultural views of the role of the Boreal forest and how native people used the forest for food, shelter, and for various medicinal plants.

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 Satisfactory

Students learn how other species have adapted to their environment, which is probably very different than their own geographical location in Canada.

The importance of the Boreal forest to all of Canada is stressed however, and hopefully students will recognize it as an important biome and natural resource to be protected.

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 role of the Boreal forest in Canadian history is addressed through the application of UNESCO criteria - in playing a part of the Aboriginal peoples and early settlers. The present and future are discussed, although teachers may want to spend more time on the future of the Boreal forest as a resource provider (wood) and discuss the possible impacts of human activities such as mining and climate change.

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 Good

Students are guided in several brainstorming sessions to come up with different responses, depending on the lesson they are doing. The level of independent choices varies according to the grade level of the lesson - at the senior high level there is more latitude for multiple/complex answers.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Although it depends on the specific lesson,  there is a multidisciplinary approach used and most lessons include aspects of science, math, arts, language and social studies.

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
  • The lessons throughout this resource are primarily an introduction to the Boreal forest and its significance from an ecological, economical, cultural and biodiversity perspective.
  • Students are provided with interesting "hooks" and intriguing questions, and will discover aspects of the Boreal region that they probably did not know.
  • The lessons are well planned and presented, but there is not a lot of opportunity for students to go beyond the core materials, unless directed to do so by the teacher.
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

While accommodations for students with various learning needs are not specifically addressed, the organization and suggestions that accompany the lessons allow for students to participate in many ways and with this open format, different learning needs can be met quite easily.

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
  • There are some suggested authentic experiences in specific extension activities but not within the lessons.
  • The simulations are good, and while not authentic, certainly give students the opportunity to explore through mapping, analyzing information and calculations.
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

The lessons are structured with the expectation that students already know how to work in groups and/or with a partner cooperatively.

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

Throughout the lessons, there are activity worksheets provided, mapping exercises, calculations to do, reflection questions - with answer sheets included. However, there are no tests or formal evaluations provided.

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

The students work together in completing the various lessons and activities, so peer learning will probably occur, but there is not much in the way of directly presenting findings to the class with the explicit outcome of peer teaching.

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
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
  • The lessons are fairly directive in what is presented for the students to learn even taking into account the fact that the lessons cover a wide range of grade levels.
  • Teachers could certainly use these lessons as the excellent introductions that they are, and then further extend the lesson concepts as they wished, or to perhaps answer questions students had which may not have been addressed.
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.