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Our Future with Clean Air

Elementary, Middle

Description

Breathing clean air is a privilege Canadians often take for granted. Many areas of the world are plagued by chronic air pollution which has immediate impacts on human health and long term effects on the environment. It is imperative that all global citizens be concerned about this issue, as air pollution is a primary cause of climate change. This collection of lessons uses an interactive approach to advance the message that we can alter the future of our planet with positive changes in our daily habits. The hands-on activities provide a comprehensive learning experience where students will:

  • Visualize air pollution with a science experiment

  • Conduct a local traffic survey

  • Promote air pollution awareness through games

  • Advocate for community change through letter writing

  • Identify and communicate action strategies to reduce carbon emissions at home and school

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation

Strengths

  • Well organized with a planning map to guide the teacher
  • Problem based learning approach
  • Encourages an environmental ethic
  • Multidisciplinary

Weaknesses

  • Does not include any assessment strategies

  • Instructions for the “Clean Air Top Trumps” activity are difficult to follow unless students are familiar with the game “Top Trumps”

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports science and social studies curriculum outcomes related to human impacts on the environment, fossil fuel consumption and human health concerns associated with polluted air. There is also an emphasis on developing citizenship skills such as evidence gathering and the lessons encourage informed personal stewardship goals to reduce energy use at home and school.

 

The activities could extend into a school action project that promotes healthy living while reducing carbon emissions on a local level. A class could organize a campaign that encourages students, teachers and other school staff to walk or bike to school. Participants in this “green” initiative could be supported in the school community by recognizing their efforts at events such as school assemblies. Students might also develop a community awareness campaign to motivate commuters to use public transport or car pool to travel to work.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (2)

    • Air Pollution
    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Energy (2)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Use
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students are able to investigate and explore to develop understanding about how air pollution affects the environment. This facilitates differentiation between facts and opinion and supports recognition of different viewpoints.

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

Carbon emissions and particulate matter in the air are know to contribute to global warming. This resource also considers the long term contributions of air pollution to ecosystem changes and in causing human diseases like lung cancer. There is a connection between immediate short-term impacts and prolonged cumulative effects.

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

This resource recognizes that the global issue of carbon emissions cannot be resolved entirely through regulation and policy. There must also be a citizen based approach to addressing this problem and the lessons encourage community stewardship.

 

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Good

There are several opportunities for students to extend the lessons beyond the classroom to affect change at the community level. The traffic survey can be used to communicate improved travel strategies such as using alternative transportation. The letter writing activity can become concrete by actually sending letters to local municipal officials. There is also an emphasis on public awareness and communication within the school.

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

Students are able to independently explore information and identify their personal carbon emission reduction goals.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

Students will become more aware of the impacts of air pollution on respiratory illnesses in children on a global scale. They will recognize that many of these deaths are preventable and are often connected to poverty in developing countries.

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
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 Satisfactory

This resource investigates the global issue of air pollution by investigating data at a community level. A teacher could also include Canadian energy use information related to our lifestyle like the need for winter heating and our preference for vehicles such as SUV's that burn large amounts of fossil fuels.

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

The resource presents current information about air quality and climate change and supports a positive vision for the future through youth engagement and action.

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 teacher's role is to support rather than direct student discussions and reflection. This strategy ensures there are many opportunities for self discovery which facilitates active student involvement in the learning process.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

This resource uses a multi-disciplinary learning approach.  Science skills are used to conduct the “Pollution Solution” experiment and identify human impacts on climate change. Mathematics tasks include tallying traffic and preparing graphs and charts.  English Language Arts content involves letter writing, oral and written communication and analyzing information. Visual Arts activities have students designing an air pollution mask and creating a sketch of a clean city of the future. There is also significant learning about public health and pollution impacts.

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 Satisfactory

A guided questioning process is used to provide a framework for learning, but students are able to expand beyond the original questions to validate their opinions and increase awareness of the issues related to air pollution.

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

Although there are no specific strategies for differentiation the hands-on approach will appeal to a wide variety of 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

Exploration with hands-on activities such as the school traffic survey supports evidence based learning and provide a meaningful experience that motivates action.

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 Poor/Not considered
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

No formal assessment strategies are included with the resource but worksheets are provided as formative assessment tools.

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 Poor/Not considered
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

Students are able to evaluate traffic patterns at the school and use this information to define community strategies for reducing carbon emissions.  

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 Poor/Not considered
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.