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Drilling Down to Sustainability

From "Buy, Use, Toss"

Secondary, Middle

Description

In this ESD lesson, students are first asked to consider the most sustainable consumer product choice between a non-locally grown organic and a conventionally-grown, local apple. This engaging problem teases students to think about the economic, environmental and social impacts underlying the choice of the most sustainable type of apple. The choice is not straightforward considering that a conventional locally grown apple creates considerably less transportation/pollution impacts. 

Following the introductory activity on sustainability factors, students are divided into groups of 5. They are asked to assume roles within various natural resource extraction and sustainability contexts i.e. gold, timber, coal, coffee or petroleum extraction. For example, in the timber extraction  context, individual students are asked to assume the roles of either a forester, salesperson at a large paper company, furniture maker, a wildlife biologist or an indigenous person whose family has lived off the forest for centuries.

Through a discussion guided by specific questions about the economic, environmental and social sustainability of their industry, students report back to the class about any improvements that can be made to extraction activities or whether extraction should even continue.

The lesson plan closes out with a plenary class discussion on the role of consumers, local impacts, overall positive and negative impacts of resource extraction and measures to enforce sustainable extraction of natural resources. 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • skills to evaluate products on environmental, economic and social impact sustainability criteria
  • ability to evaluate the sustainability of resource extraction industries

Strengths

  • The lesson provides stimulating and adequate challenges that build on the previous exercise
  • Very good open-ended and interdisciplinary instruction
  • Good use of simulations
  • The resource is easy to use with instruction to teachers and the central purpose is reinforced throughout
  • The questionnaire is helpful in organizing student discussions within the simulations.

Weaknesses

  • The writing extension on policy for sustainable resource extraction and the action project should be included within the learning resource rather than as extensions
  • There should be some more support for teachers i.e. resources on the web or someone to call
  • A summative assessment tool could be added. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Economics For Consumers 20: Course Content
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        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
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        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.

Themes Addressed

Citizenship (2)

  • Community-Building and Participation
  • Sustainable Consumption

Economics (1)

  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Ecosystems (2)

  • Bioregionalism
  • Interdependence

Human Rights (1)

  • Environmental Racism/Justice

Waste Management (1)

  • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
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

Environmental and economic connections are stronger than the social dimensions.

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 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 Poor/Not considered

Poor/not considered

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

Each industry - sustainability context provides at least one role that fosters empathy. The concept is raised under Components of Sustainability on Society impacts.

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 Poor/Not considered

Poor/not considered

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

In the final discussion there are questions about local resource extraction industries and their local impact.

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

This occurs through the role playing exercises and extensions. Quite appropriately, a sense of the present and a positive vision for the future is emphasized over an understanding of the past.

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 Very Good
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
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
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 Satisfactory

Accommodations are not suggested for people with learning difficulties. However, the lessons teach to both cognitive and affective domains.

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

Role-playing simulation is a main teaching method. 

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

Students work in groups.

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 Satisfactory

There is a questionnaire to capture only formative learning.

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

Incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning.

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

The role playing simulations fall short of case studies.

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

There are extension activities that enable students to go deeper into chosen issues.

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.