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Future of a Vacant Lot

Secondary

Description

Using the Three Pillars of Sustainability, students will examine a vacant lot in order to analyze issues related to public spaces and create possible solutions to these problems. Students will then identify the stakeholders involved and how they will be affected by changes to the public space. They will create a stakeholder map to identify relationships between stakeholders and form a plan of how they can collaborate to solve the sustainability problems within the space.

 

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students have an opportunity to practice those skills related to problem solving

  • identifying the problem
  • recognizing the stakeholders
  • working collaboratively to find a consensus
  • proposing and defending solutions

Strengths

The resource offers a unique opportunity to have students discuss the larger concept of sustainable development by applying the related principles to a real problem that students will confront daily and one that can be "fixed".

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The issues raised by the resource and the student response may be addressed within those units of study dealing with

  • sustainable communities
  • participatory or active citizenship
  • urban geography

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Commitment to Action
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Investigations
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • 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
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
        • Urban Studies 12: Urban planning decisions and other government policies can dramatically affect the overall quality of life in cities
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Urban Places
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Issues 120:Interdependence
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship 9: Engaged Citizenship
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography of Canada 11: Rural-Urban Land Use
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Geography: Urbanization
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizen Participation
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Liveable Communities
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Liveable Communities
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Community Action
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.): Spacial Organizationties
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ/College Prep.) Community Action
        • World Geography: Urban Patterns & Populations (Univ. / College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
        • Urban Studies 12: Urban planning decisions and other government policies can dramatically affect the overall quality of life in cities

Themes Addressed

  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Sustainable Urbanization

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students are asked how they would improve vacant lots to help achieve the future they want. Their discussions and decisions are to be guided by the principles of sustainable development but within these parameters they have full independence.

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

Students are challenged to improve various vacant lots in accordance with the three principles of sustainability - economic, environmental and social.

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

Students develop their vision for the future of the vacant lot into a detailed plan of action. This includes a process that works back from their vision for the lot and identifies

  • Who will benefit from the plan?
  • What resources will the plan require?.
  • What are unintended consequences of the plan (for example, will the future lot require regular maintenance, or will it affect the flow of traffic in the area)?
  • What are the steps required to make this plan happen?

Such considerations help students realize the difficulties of moving a vision to reality.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

While the lesson does not require students to act on the plans they develop, that option is there and the required forethought has been put in place.

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 Very Good

In planning to improve a public space, students must consider the importance they attach to social concerns, the significance of economic considerations, and the role of the environment in their lives.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

In discussing how they will improve the vacant lot to achieve the future they want, student may be expected to consider the needs of potential users. This may require students to consider such issues as diversity, gender issues, sexual preferences, etc.

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

The focus of the lesson asks students to consider how they can improve public spaces. In doing so, they must consider what makes a good public space and how they would improve the vacant lot to help achieve the future they want. Such questions encourage students to recognize the value of nature and the challenges presented by urban blight.

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 2, students are arranged in chat groups to critique an assigned public space project. Key questions are provided to guide their discussion on how they would improve their space.  

In lesson 4, they are asked to identify a space in their community that  they wish to improve, to identify the key state holders and to collaborate with others to improve the space.

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 asks student to examine a current issue (a public space that needs improvement), to imagine a preferred future that would see the space developed in accordance with the three pillars of sustainability, and to put in place a plan that would create that preferred future.

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

Students are challenged to improve selected public spaces. They must consider their proposals within the context of the three pillars of sustainability but other than that, there are no right answers.

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 students proposals for improving their public spaces must consider the economic, social, and environmental impact of their proposals. Each of these "pillars" link the student discussions to a number of subject areas.

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 lessons follow the principles of guided inquiry. Students are asked to answer a question (How do I improve this public space?); paramaters are set down (the three pillars of sustainability) and guided questions help focus their answers.

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

The lesson plans are organized around certain basic elements. Students  are asked to think of solutions to the question proposed, to defend and moderate their solutions, to seek consensus as to appropriate action, and to plan for the implementation of that action.

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

Vacant public lots that present problems for a community are a reality everywhere. Asking students to help address this problem is an exercise in problem solving and citizen participation.

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 "chat" groups to discuss and debate proposals for the improvement of selected public spaces. 

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

The propsals put forward by students to improve vacant public lots allows teachers to take the measure of student understanding of the problem and the creativity and practicality of their solutions. Student submissions may be presented in either oral or written form.

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

Students will learn from their peers as classmates present and defend their ideas as to how they intend to improve their vacant public space within the context of sustainable development.

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 Very Good

Each of the vacant public spaces presented to students for improvement represent a case study in applied sustainable development.

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 teacher introduces a problem for student consideration (how might we develop this public space within the context of sustainable development?) and the "answer" is provided by the students.

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.