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In a country rich in renewable freshwater resources it seems incomprehensible that some Canadian citizens lack access to clean water. Indigenous people have respected the connection between water and life for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the current reality is that many Canadian First Nations communities struggle with difficult living conditions caused by unsafe or inadequate water supplies. In this innovative resource young children explore this topic through a series of activities in which they will:
This resource builds citizenship skills in students by engaging them in an investigation of a current environmental issue with a process that supports informed conservation decisions. Even at this young age a class could become involved in advocacy through simple actions like organizing a community water celebration that includes traditional indigenous dances and customs and promotes awareness of the value of water.
Scientific inquiry is used to build and analyze the effectiveness of a personal water filter. It is important that students gain a holistic knowledge of where their daily water comes from. A teacher could expand upon this investigation by including condensation experiments to deepen student awareness of the water cycle. A field trip to the community reservoir and water treatment plant would further student understanding of the importance of conservation.
Many First Nations communities are under a boil water advisory. Using their personal water use figures students could combine math and science to evaluate the time and energy investments required to boil enough water to sustain their family for one day.
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
In this country water is everywhere, thus the reality that some citizens are experiencing a water crisis offers a unique perspective to students. They will gain more insight into the real impacts of environmental problems like pollution on northern communities while strengthening their awareness of the ecological values of Canada’s freshwater assets.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions
The collective social responsibility surrounding this issue is highlighted by comparing personal water use with similarly aged youth in a First Nations community. The activities also provide many opportunities for discussions surrounding poverty and inequitable resource distribution.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
This resource uses an integrated approach to explore the ecological and human values of water, the social costs of water scarcity and the role of citizenship in addressing environmental concerns.
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning
Students explore strategies to assist indigenous communities with accessing clean water and implement definitive practices that reduce water consumption.
|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
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans
In a wealthy country like Canada students will be surprised to discover that some citizens struggle with access to basic human rights. As they research solutions they will also recognize that it is important that First Nations customs and beliefs should be honored and incorporated into assistance efforts.
|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
The First Nations context means that there are many opportunities for a teacher to highlight the strong connections between all humans and the natural world. A class could experience some of the traditional songs and stories that honor water. A local First Nations community member could also take students on a walk to a local waterway to share ecological knowledge.
|Personal Affinity with Earth:
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
Students determine their personal water use. The global issue of water resources is examined from the perspective of Canadian indigenous communities which ensures students are able to analyze and apply new information on a local level.
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future
Building the simple water filter could be the impetus to an enhanced science investigation where students learn about current and future technologies such as evolving personal water purification devices like Life Straw.
In the live interview with a northern community students have an opportunity to hear the oral storytelling tradition of passing on knowledge.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.
The activities in this resource have been developed to foster critical thinking about environmental issues. Students are able to analyze and build upon new learning to make multiple conclusions.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
All of the activities contain a strong science and social studies component that link sustainability issues with social justice.
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
This learning unit develops creativity and problem solving skills through a science inquiry process where students build a personal water filter. Students are also able to examine and describe consequences of a clean water shortage through an approach that supports originality in defining personal conservation goals.
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
There are no specific strategies for differentiation however there is a hands-on component to the lessons that will appeal to a variety of learners.
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
One way in which a teacher could strengthen the experiential aspect of this resource could involve the class in spending a school day experiencing some of the issues that result from reduced water availability. Options such as carrying water from another source to fill water bottles rather than using the water fountain or depending on hand sanitizer instead of hand washing would certainly highlight how much we take water for granted
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Lessons are generally done as a whole class or small group activity.
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation
There are no defined assessment strategies but provided worksheets could support formative assessment.
|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.
During the Skype interview there is an opportunity for students to learn how reduced water availability impacts on the lives of younger members of a First Nations community by listening to their personal experiences.
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
This topic is a timely and relevant environmental issue currently facing members of Canada’s indigenous communities.
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
In the second lesson, "Comparison to a Northern Community" the class generates a list of questions to ask during a Skype interview. These questions are student led and based on an examination of all of the ways that water is used at school and home.
|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.