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Conserving Canada's Marine Biodiversity: Middle School

Grades 4-8

Elementary, Middle

Description

The lesson plans in Conserving Canada's Marine Biodiversity have a goal of helping students become passionate about Canada's oceans, raise awareness of conservation issues and bring Canada's ocean just a little bit closer to home.  The resource consists of 4 lessons with the following activities:

1. We Are All Connected:  Students learn how everyday actions can have direct impacts on the ocean because they are connected to the ocean through their local watershed. Students will build a model watershed, examine point source and non-point source pollution, clean a sample of polluted water, and explore initiatives to reduce pollution entering their local watershed.

2. Big Shark, Big Loss, Big Impact: Large predatory fish populations have plummeted over the last decade. Two role-playing games will show students how apex predators are necessary to maintain functioning ecosystems. Students will graph the results of the games and compare ocean ecosystems before and after human activities.

3. What Am I Worth?: Students will explore Canadian marine biodiversity in this introductory and cumulative activity.With no prior knowledge, students will attempt to raise (fake) money for a marine animal through a presentation to their classmates. After researching their animals, students will again try and raise money, but this time with a better understanding of what role the animal plays in its environment.

4. Goodbye Bycatch: Students may be familiar with fishing from their own experiences, but commercial fishing is an entirely different matter. In this activity, students will explore through a simulation different fishing methods, determine which have the highest and lowest amounts of bycatch, and graphically display the results.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The focus of this resource is raising awareness and therefore, no skills are explicitly taught.

Strengths

  • All handouts and materials are included.
  • Engaging and easy to facilitate activities.
  • Background information provided for the teacher.

Weaknesses

  • A lack of assessment tools.
  • A broken link in Lesson 3 What Am I Worth? to the animal information for students. 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This lesson plan would be a very good supplement or introduction to a unit on biodiversity.  It could also serve as a themed lesson plan around World Oceans Day (early June) in order to help students understand more about oceans.

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Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Biodiversity
    • Endangered Species
    • Interdependence
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Aquaculture
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Fisheries
  • Water (2)

    • Marine Environments
    • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Through the simulations, the students are able to see firsthand the effects of each action that is taken. This allows them to understand the different points of view of the problem and how each solution may cause other problems in the oceans.

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
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
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
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

Within the reflection activities at the end of each lesson, the students are given the opportunity to reflect and express their opinions on the issues that have been discussed.

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 is not a focus of 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 Very 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 Very Good

In Lesson #1 the students create a pamphlet to distribute in their community describing their local watershed and the pollutants that they observed.  This brings their learning full circle.

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
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

As the majority of the activities are simulations, the students can see the answers developing as the games play out without having to be steered to one correct answer.

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

The variety of lesson activities are well suited to a variety of learning styles.

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 Very 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 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 Poor/Not considered

There are no assessment tools or suggestions for evaluation 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
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

There are no case studies included 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 Satisfactory

Some extension ideas are suggested to extend the learning.

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.