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Native Species: Nature's Choice

Secondary, Middle

Description

This resource examines the impact of invasive species on habitats, biodiversity and the web of life. Five lessons offer hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities to raise student awareness of alien species and the need to restore native species. Topics include the nature of invasive species, how they are introduced and spread, their impacts on native species and spaces (including investigating the historical relationships between Aboriginal people and native plants and animals), and solutions for these threats.

A summary of each lesson follows:

Lesson 1 - Native Friends Invasive Foes (3X45min)

Students compare and classify alien species and hold a class debate about the differences in indigenous species and exotic species, their positive and negative effects and whether populations should be conserved or controlled.

Lesson Two- An Unnatural History ( 4x45min)

Students will investigate historical relationships between Aboriginal people and natural species as well as the intentional introduction of exotic plants and animals to North America by settlers and explorers. Students then trace the geographical origins of an alien species found in their own part of Canada. They share this information with the class.

Lesson 3- Alien X-files or Accidental Tourists (2X45min)

Students do a card-matching activity to learn how human activities accidentally transport invasive species into ecosystems. Pairs or groups of students explore in greater depth the introduction and spread of an individual plant or animal and research other examples of "accidental" transplants. They present these to the class and make new sets of matching cards.

Lesson 4- Alien Impacts- Assess The Mess (3X45 min plus a field trip)

Students learn to identify some of the native and non-native species in their area, research the effects of exotics on local wildlife and habitat and the interrelationships among plants and animals. Students then map the major features of their school yard or another site. (wetlands, meadows, forest, seashore, etc..). Students prepare and present a report on their site.

Lesson 5- Set the Restoration Cycle in Motion (3 X45min plus a field trip)

Students develop and take steps to implement a plan to prevent the introduction and spread of the alien species, control their populations, monitor their presence, and restore native wildlife. These action projects include a public awareness campaign, a monitoring study, a weed pull and a native plant restoration project. Many suggestions are given for potential action plans.

Each lesson includes good background information, excellent links, on-line tutorials, and many useful handouts and guides.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Initiating and Planning
  • Estimating techniques
  • Interpreting patterns and trends in data
  • Working cooperatively with team members to carry out a plan
  • Communicating the findings of an investigative report
  • Proposing solutions to a plan being investigated
  • Defending a given position
  • Identifying and using a variety of sources and technologies to gather information
  • Responding and reflecting on written media and text
  • Speaking and communicating thoughts and ideas
  • Listening critically to others ideas/thoughts/ and points of view
  • Presenting information in different ways

Strengths

  • Great supplements including on-line tutoring, handouts, and identification sheets
  • Lots of background information
  • Strong links to related resources
  • Many suggestions for outdoor action projects
  • Respects the complexity of the issue
  • Has an Aboriginal connection
  • Lessons are interesting
  • Guidelines are provided to help manage the debate
  • Promotes student awareness and action
  • Helps students form beliefs, concepts and attitudes
  • Provides issue-related information
  • Gives students a chance to practice real science and obtain results that are relevant to their lives
  • Has local focus
  • Good enrichment ideas
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue and incidental peer teaching
  • Good out of doors experience
  • Has opportunities for experiential learning and involves activities in their community
  • Very important topic
  • Resource is thorough and easy to use
  • Has excellent resource sheet and background information for teachers

Weaknesses

  •  Many action projects are suggested, but these need more instructions on how to carry them through
  • Assessment tools need development
  • No accommodations for struggling learners

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Themes Addressed

Citizenship (1)

  • Community-Building and Participation

Ecosystems (4)

  • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Biodiversity
  • Habitat Loss
  • Invasive Species

Indigenous Knowledge (1)

  • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Land Use & Natural Resources (2)

  • Habitat Restoration
  • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very 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 Good

Socio-economic impacts such as financial losses to governments, communities ,agriculture and recreational groups are linked to the environmental effects of invasive species. Loss of habitat and the disruption of ecosystems are also explored.

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

The debate topics in Lesson 1 and follow-up discussion will ensure that the complexity of this issue is respected.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

Many ideas for action plans are presented in the last two lessons. These would be more effective if detailed instructions were included on how to carry them out.

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 Satisfactory
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
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
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 historical and geographical story of the arrival of exotic species is well presented. Present-day situations are evaluated and the students are asked to play a role in implementing solutions.

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

Lessons provide information but students are not "steered" toward any 'right" answer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Although primarily a science resource, there are some learning opportunities related to history, geography, language arts and art.

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

Both affective and cognitive domains are addressed. Appropriate groupings for lessons 4 and 5 should help provide for differences in abilities. There are no accommodations suggested for people with learning difficulties. Lesson 3 could be substituted for a research project 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 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

Poor- No tools are given for formative or summative assessment

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 Satisfactory

There are some quick descriptions of real events in real situations but the case studies lack detail. It is up to the student to do further research on these topics.

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
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.