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Clean Air, Healthy Children

Teacher's Guide and Activities for Young Children

Elementary

Description

These education materials and lesson plans are designed to introduce young children to the concepts of respiratory health, air quality and caring for the environment. 

The unit begins by providing a comprehensive background to support teaching/learning about the key issues of air pollution and respiratory health.  The student lessons that follow are divided into 5 sections that can be completed individually or in sequence.  Each lesson provides clearly stated objectives, background information and a variety of engaging learning activities.  Suggestions for literature and music connections are included with each lesson as well as ideas for linking classroom learning to the home.

Our Respiratory System:  Students participate in a breathing exercise, a stress test and a drawing/writing activity to learn about the different parts of the respiratory system and how they work together.

The World Around Us:   Students identify and discuss how they depend upon various things in their classroom for survival and take a field trip to a local park or playground to help them understand the importance of the ‘environment’ and the need to care for it.  This lesson includes directions for students to apply what they have learned at home.

Air is Everywhere:  By participating in an interactive poem, experimenting with their senses and using the air in their lungs to paint a picture, students are made aware of their need for a constant supply of clean air.  Students extend their classroom investigation of air and ‘what’s in air’ by building and installing ‘air catchers’ at home.

Air Pollution Patrol: Students carry out different experiments inside and out-of-doors to explore air pollution and to recognize the impact that human activity is having on air quality and health.

Pitching In:  This lesson is designed to help students and their families identify individual actions they can take to protect the environment.

All necessary work and activity sheets are included with the resource for photocopying.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • How to recognize signs of breathing
  • How to make rubbings (of leaves & bark)
  • How to compile pages of notes into a book
  • How to make a wind catcher (to monitor air pollution)

Strengths

  • The resource does an excellent job in involving parents/home in the learning.
  • The resource provides many opportunities for students to act on what they have learned
  • The resource offers an interesting variety of activities.
  • The resource features multidisciplinary learning.
  • The resource communicates the positive message that individuals can make a difference in resolving the problems associated with air pollution
  • The resource encourages learning out-of-doors.

Weaknesses

  • No assessment tools are included.
  • Opportunities for students to explore on their own are limited.
  • No attention has been given to the economic costs of air pollution and environmental damage.
  • Where and when to draw attention to the specific impacts of air pollution and respiratory health (found in the background information) is not made clear.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Air Pollution
  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Interdependence
  • Human Health & Environment (2)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
    • Health Promotion

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Much of the learning takes place through guided inquiry. Any supporting information students are presented with is factual.

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

While the economic aspects of air pollution and health are not explicitly addressed, the resource does a good job in drawing attention to the environmental and social dimensions at play.

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 does an excellent job in presenting the interplay of society and the environment in an age-appropriate fashion.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

Significant attention is paid to connecting learning in the classroom with its application at home.  Students are also directed to complete a specific action project as a culminating activity.

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

Included with each inquiry are planned discussions to provide opportunities for students to reflect.  

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This criterion is not addressed.

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

Significant opportunities are included in the core activities for out-of-doors experiences.  One such activity effectively encourages appreciation for the value of trees.

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

Each lesson concludes with some application of the learning within the student's home and/or community.  The inquiries are based on personal surroundings and experiences.

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 resource communicates clearly the message that individuals can make a difference in protecting the environment and promoting clean air.

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

While younger students are guided through the activities, an inquiry element is preserved.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Very Good

The lessons provide opportunities to address outcomes in science, health, language, music and visual arts.

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 inquiry is largely guided but appropriate for the age of the learners.

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

A wide variety of learning activity types and environments will accommodate different learning needs.

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 Good
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 Poor/Not considered

The activities in this resource feature individual and whole group learning.

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 Poor/Not considered

While students produce a number of artifacts and opportunities to assess learning are frequent, there is no explicit attention given to evaluation.

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

The design of each lesson has the student communicating what has been learned in school to the home.

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 Poor/Not considered

No use of case studies is included.

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

Limited opportunities are 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.