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DeforestACTION

Secondary

Description

DeforestACTION has as its goal that students become inspired by the wonders of the forest, informed of the causes and consequences of deforestation at the local and global level and involved with other students in creating a global action plan against deforestation.

The resource consists of three modules, each of which includes a series of "assignments" that make use of the tools of information technology to engage students in researching and reporting on their findings within their class or with a wider audience of students. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students may be expected to develop/improve their

. analytical skills as they investigate the causes and consequences of deforestation

. their presentation skills as they use various media to share their understandings

. their organizational skills as they initiate or join various action projects to preserve the Earth's forests

Strengths

The concept of the virtual classroom and its use of information technology to link and engage students around an issue is potentially exciting. The effort to link student understanding to student action is also to be applauded in that it sends a strong message to students that they are participants and not simply observers in determining the direction of events.

Weaknesses

The site is somewhat unwieldy because of the multitude and variety of resources attached and the fact that opening up a given resource sometimes leads one to other resources, thereby creating a resource string in which one may get lost.

Greater attention might be paid to what is happening in temperate forests so as to avoid the suggestion that the problem is "over there".

Some may suggests that the attention to action is a not so subtle form of enlisting students in the cause of various organizations who's websites are cited as sources of background information.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The resource will have particular relevance for science teachers (particularly Environmental Science), World or Global Issues teachers, Geography teachers, and Media Studies teachers at the high school level.

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        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11:Humans can play a role in stewardship and restoration of ecosystems
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education - Outdoor Education: Spending time outdoors allows us to develop an understanding of the natural environment and ourselves
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Explorations in Social Studies 11: Physical features and natural resources influence demographic patterns and population distribution (adapted from Human Geography
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Sustainable land use is essential to meet the needs of a growing population
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education - Outdoor Education: Spending time outdoors allows us to develop an understanding of the natural environment and ourselves
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (2)

    • Globalization
    • Trade
  • Ecosystems (6)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Carrying Capacity
    • Endangered Species
    • Habitat Loss
    • Interdependence
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Cultural Diversity
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Forests

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The resource starts with the assumption that the current rate of deforestation is unacceptable and that informed action is necessary to check this dramatic decline. Most of the sources (Greenpeace, Mongabay, the Rainforest Action Group) referenced for the students share this view. Other background readings include articles from credible organizations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Avoided Deforestation Partners (AD Partners).

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

In examining the causes and consequences of deforestation due attention is given to the economic (agriculture, palm oil production,over-grazing, demand for fuel wood, tourism), environmental(loss of biodiversity,drought,loss of ecological services, carbon emissions) and social forces (threats to indigenous cultures, cultural genocide) 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 many resources identified in the Bookmarks segment of the resource better guarantee that students will appreciate the complexity of the issue. Topics examined include the link between deforestation and climate control, the water cycle, soil erosion, and disrupted livelihoods. Possible responses include adoption of sustainable forestry practices, promotion of certified forest products,and payment to rain forest nations for not deforesting.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very Good

The resource is part of the Taking it Global Thematic Classroom, a central feature of which is to involve students from around the world in creating a global action plan against deforestation (DeforestACTION). A number of the "assignments" - Growing Trees Near You, Get Involved in Conservation, Buy Back Land in Borneo- outline possible student action.  Classes that choose to join the thematic classroom can take advantage of tools such as blogs, discussion boards and video chats to share their ideas with other schools.

A number of the referenced sites(Action for Nature, More Trees, More Good- The Woodland Trust, Sierra Student Coalition) invite students to take action on a variety of environmental issues. The Prince's Rainforest Project website includes a number of suggestions for educating others as to the importance of the rainforest.

Lesson plans found on the PBS site include " Be an Amazon Activist" wherein students are invited to use their power as consumers to influence developments in the Amazon or join with others in the Rainforest Action Network.

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

The underlying messages of the resource is that we should value natural and cultural diversity; that we should care for those who's lives are threatened by deforestation or who because of poverty cannot afford to be stewards of the forest; that we have a responsibility to do what me might to check the continued deforestation.

Students will therefore have to determine what importance they give to these issues and to what extent they are prepared to act.  

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

A number of the featured web sites draw attention to the fate of the indigenous people whose way of life is threatened by deforestation. One of the tasks  (Rainforest Life: People and Animals) in module 1 has the class divided into expert groups, on of which is to research and report on rainforest people. 

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

While a visit to a rain forest is not likely, a virtual visit is an option. Certain of the referenced sites (National Geographic, PBS, WWF) introduce students to the flora and fauna of the rain forest. Macaws, lizards, fig trees, monkeys and others are featured. Efforts to save orangutans threatened by habitat destruction is given particular attention (module 3) and one of the"assigments" focuses on endangered plant species. 

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 Good

Students connection to deforestation is established by having them note the items used in the classroom and the school that originate in the forest and having them consider how they would be affected if those items were no longer available. Attention is also paid to the role of tropical forest in providing food, medicine, and in turning down the global thermometer. 

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 Very Good

A central message of the resource is the rate as which the Earth's original forest cover has been and continues to be lost. The future of the Earth's plants and animals - and hundreds of human cultures - will be determined within the next few decades. Students are invited to meet these challenges by being good stewards and contributing to the sustainable production of the goods and services the forest provide.   

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

The resource consists of three modules, a number of which are organized around key questions - What is deforestation? Why do rainforest need protecting?. Other modules explore what might be done in response to the issues raised - Growing trees near you! Buy back land in Borneo! Each of the module assignments consists of a series of tasks which direct students to a variety of resources of varying sophistication. While student response to the assignment is not pre-determined, the selection of referenced resources reflects the resources underlying assumption that deforestation is a critical issue that requires our understanding and response. 

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 variety of sources that students consult have relevance for different curriculum areas. Examples include

Geography -mapping the rainforest

Science - habitat destruction and loss of species

Social Studies - loss of cultural diversity

Economics - harvesting and sale of forest products

Certain of the possible student activities such as the creation of discussion posts, use of different formats to "send a message", use of Microsoft Photo Story or Photosynth to create digital slide shows would be of particular interest to Language Arts and Fine Arts teachers.

The resource also includes a number of "starter activities" that are subject specific.

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 Good

The basic format of the resource is to identify a topic, outline a question or explore possible actions and to then, with accompanying suggestions, direct students to selected websites. 

Typically students are then asked to share/report their findings/conclusions with classmates or with the participants in the Virtual Classroom.

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

In introducing each of the assignments, a set of Learning Outcomes outlines what all students, most students, or some students will know or do. In setting out differentiated outcomes, the resource may be criticized for not setting the bar high for all. In some cases, however, the differences are in the way the students will provide evidence of their understanding -a multi-media presentation (most) or creating a learning game (some).

The sites to which the students are referred range from more to less demanding which may be a factor of the grade spread aimed for. 

The result is an eclectic mix of aims, content and tasks. 

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

Students are expected to learn about the topics identified from reading on-line files and folders, viewing videos and photo galleries, accessing various portals, and playing online games. Of these, the games, some of which involve virtual tours come close to a simulation.  

While two of the suggested tasks involve tree planting or banding, insufficient attention is given to the possibility of students learning of local forest management practices by either visiting harvesting sites or inviting harvesters and/or foresters to speak to the class.

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 Good

While Taking it Global allows for team assignments with selected Virtual Classroom assignments, no team assignments are suggested for the DeforestACTION resource. 

There are some examples where the class is divided into expert/news groups according to the jigsaw formula, others examples of students working in pairs, and certain of the action elements require class planning and execution. 

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

Each of the activities/assignments include a series of suggested tasks that the students are to undertake and the resulting student product -reports,photo or video productions, radio jingles, creative writing assignments- provide material to  measure student understanding and progress.

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

A degree of peer teaching emerges in the cooperative or group learning tasks cited in the photo, video and other presentations suggested by the resource. These opportunities would be further expended if the class chose to become part of the Virtual Classroom option which allows for blogs, discussion groups, video chats.

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 Satisfactory

Includes a number of case studies found on various Internet sites referenced.  Examples include 

. Harvesting of oil palm 

. Indonesia's Rainforest

. The Orangutan and forest destruction

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 Good

The resource outlines a series of assignments and tasks and identifies the sources that enable students to realize these. In this sense, the resource is quite descriptive. The variety of tasks and resources, however, allows the student to be somewhat selective in pursuing those that reflect his/her interests and talents.  

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.