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Lake Winnipeg Water Stewardship-A Resource for Grade 8 Science



This resource gives Manitoba students the opportunity to deepen their understanding about water systems and concepts related to sustainable development. Through an inquiry into Lake Winnipeg and its watershed, the activities are designed to increase student awareness of the importance of water stewardship. This is a student-driven resource in which the teacher takes the role of a facilitator, allowing for students to design and answer their own research questions. In a collaborative environment teachers model and teach skills of reflection, goal-setting and self assessment. These skills help students gain an awareness of the consequences of human action on the environment, a sense of personal responsibility and a willingness to contribute to a sustainable future.

The resource examines the following topics.

1. The Importance of Lake Winnipeg- this is explored from different perspectives- economic, natural, domestic use, and a spiritual/cultural role

2. Shoreline Erosion- this helps the student connect the concepts of erosion, human activity and the health of Lake Winnipeg

3. Flooding- this lesson allows the student to reflect on the effects of flooding on water quality in Lake Winnipeg (erosion, accumulation of shoreline sediment, washing in soluble compounds like fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, contaminants from human activities like industrial and human waste)

4. Lake Winnipeg Ecosystems- this examines some parts of the Lake Winnipeg ecosystem and the effects of overloading or removing components of the ecosystem. It also looks at eutrophication and who is involved in water protection.

5. Lake Winnipeg Water Quality- this extends student understanding about water quality in the lake and allows reflection on further problems with pollution.

6. Lake Winnipeg and Climate- this lesson highlights the role that Lake Winnipeg has on the climate around it.

7. Lake Winnipeg Watershed- this builds an understanding of the Lake Winnipeg watershed and the impact on water quality as a result of human activity.

8. Look at the Big Picture: the Global Water Cycle- this lesson establishes the connection between the water cycle and Lake Winnipeg.  Attention is paid to the finite amount of water on the earth and how water pollution impacts the water cycle.

Activities include research assignments, group brainstorming, poster projects, journal entries and reflections, map reading, building models, interpreting climate data, hands-on water testing, interpreting demos and simulations on waves and climate, writing stories, creating demos, Power Points,and computer animation, sorting and predicting activities, and creating concept maps.

Lessons are not sequential and the teacher can choose to do all or some of them. The resource includes many excellent resource links and a reference section which provides a bibliography, webography, videography, a glossary and 48 black line masters to assist facilitation.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving/Decision-making
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Interpreting patterns and trends in data
  • Using tools and apparatus to conduct investigations
  • Designing an experiment
  • Formulating questions, hypothesis and /or predictions to guide research
  • Communicating the findings of an investigative report
  • Proposing solutions to a problem being investigated
  • Evaluating group and individual processes in planning, problem solving, and decision making
  • Goal setting and self assessment


  • Excellent resources, links and websites
  • Glossary is useful
  • Open-ended questions/solutions
  • Student-led inquiry
  • Strong local (Manitoba) focus
  • Topic is relevant and up-to-date
  • Black line masters included
  • Peer and self assessments are encouraged
  • Systems thinking approach is encouraged
  • Has experiential learning opportunities and out-of-doors activities
  • Students choose what questions to investigate as well as materials and strategies used to answer them
  • Cooperative learning and peer teaching opportunities
  • Students have opportunities to choose elements of program content, the medium they work with and to go deeper into chosen issues


  • Assessment directions are given, but no rubrics or checklists are provided
  • No accommodations are given for struggling learners
  • No authentic action experience included
  • Does not effectively address First Nations perspectives

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
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Water Systems on Earth

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Interdependence
  • Water (4)

    • Water Cycle
    • Water Quality
    • Water Treatment and Distribution
    • Watershed Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Students select their own research topics and questions. Many resource suggestions are provided. The Aboriginal perspective on the care and protection of lake Winnipeg and its watershed is not included in reflection questions.

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

The resource emphasizes that society has a responsibility in protecting the environment as well as responding to environmental problems.

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

Focus is on teaching inquiry methodology. Thought-provoking questions and activities encourage discussions and activities.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Poor-action activities are poorly developed

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
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
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

Out-of-doors experiences include water tests and class trips to a beach and erosion zone on Lake Winnipeg. Care for the Lake Winnipeg ecosystem is emphasized throughout the resource.

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
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 Satisfactory

After showcasing the results of their inquiry, students make recommendations for the present and future of Lake Winnipeg and it watershed.

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 Satisfactory

The resource is primarily a science resource, but learning opportunities are provided in language arts, art, technology and geography.

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 Very 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

Both the cognitive and affective domains are discussed. A variety of instructional strategies (modelling, explicit instruction, guided practice, descriptive feedback) and student groupings (whole class, cooperative groupings, individual) are used. No accommodations are suggested for struggling learners.

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
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
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

Some reflection questions are provided. There are some descriptive assessment suggestions given but no rubrics or checklists are provided. Educators are asked to gather information through observation, conversation, exit slips, and student projects about what their students know. Descriptive teacher feedback is used to enhance the inquiry process. Peer and self- assessment is encouraged with students deciding on what is assessed and how it is assessed.

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
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 Good
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 Very Good
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.