Search for Resources

Salmonids in the Classroom- Intermediate



Salmonids in the Classroom is a comprehensive, year-long program in which students learn about the life-cycle of salmon, how they interact with their environment and the relationship (both positive and negative) between salmon and humans. Students engage in a variety of hands-on activities both in the classroom and the field. The lessons reflect sound instruction and assessment practices. Students are encouraged to practice an ethic of care.


Unit 1: The Salmon Life Cycle - students examine the life-stages and related needs of salmon

Unit 2: Water Cycle, Watershed and Salmon - students examine a salmon incubator and build a watershed model

Unit 3: Salmon Habitat - students select a site for on-site studies and begin field research using journal activities and formal research assessment rubrics

Unit 4: Salmon Spawning - these lessons focus on why salmon spawn, a spawning simulation experience, salmon as fertilizer, genetic diversity, water quality

Unit 5: Salmon Eggs - students are introduced to the concept of water quality and practice testing using measurement up to parts per million

Unit 6: Salmon Alevins - students examine how temperature affects yeast rates of growth and relate that to salmon respiration, students also consider how human activities affect water temperature (including creating a model landfill).

Unit 7: Salmon Fry - students classify various aquatic species and their place in the aquatic web, complete a hands-on activity to study buoyancy and discuss water runoff pollution

Unit 8: Salmon Smolts - students create a mock-estuary, examine the role of smoltification and play a predator-prey game that explores food-chain relationships

Unit 9: Adult Salmon - this unit considers natural and human stresses on salmon and examines how salmon navigate without landmarks

Check out Welcome to Salmonids in the Classroom for more information about raising salmon in the classroom.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource teaches a wide variety of skills including:

  • field research and monitoring
  • observation and recording of data
  • model-building
  • testing and measurement
  • mapping skills
  • journaling


This cross-curricular resource is linked to the Curriculum Learning Outcomes in an easy to use chart. Activities are clearly defined and explained for both first-time and veteran teachers. The extension activities allow students to pursue a wide-range of interests. As well, many opportunities are provided to turn awareness and understanding into action. The activities will work well as part of the entire program or on a one-off basis.


Limited attention is given to historical aspects of, and First Nations perspectives, on salmon. The resource does not emphasize some key human-related stresses on salmon populations such as development, forestry, mining, commercial and sports-fishing, fish-farming, etc. More attention could be given to implications of climate change for salmon.

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.

Themes Addressed

Citizenship (1)

  • General Guide to Taking Action

Ecosystems (3)

  • Carrying Capacity
  • Habitat Loss
  • Interdependence

Food & Agriculture (1)

  • Aquaculture

Land Use & Natural Resources (2)

  • Fisheries
  • Habitat Restoration

Water (2)

  • Marine Environments
  • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives GoodProject rationale is presented and includes the background philosophy of both the educational resource and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
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 GoodProblems and solutions are explored at many levels and from a variety of perspectives. The resource also encourages students to reflect and act upon the complexity of solutions to 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 Very GoodThe resource assists learners to understand issues conceptually. The complexity of problems is respected and perspective-taking is encouraged.
Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Very GoodStudents are taught various aspects of environmental stewardship (including stream enhancement) and are encouraged to become involved in educating their communities and stewarding their local environments.
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 GoodStudents are encouraged to understand how both salmon and the health of the environment relates to individuals and societies. Some attention is given to exploring biases and assumptions - a variety of activities encourage students to research issues, draw their own conclusions and where appropriate, act.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans SatisfactoryLimited attention is given to First Nations’ relationship to salmon. Consultation with First Nations is relevant to the topic but is not indicated as having occurred.
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 GoodAn ethic of care and affinity is encouraged, both directly and indirectly. Many lessons involve out-of-doors experiences either directly or as part of the extension activities.
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 GoodLearners are encouraged to assess their own local aquatic environments and establish plans for enhancement and stewardship.
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 GoodLimited attention is given to past events and human activities that have contributed to current realities/issues for salmon health and populations. Emphasis is on existing problems and challenges and how to address them towards a positive tomorrow. More attention could be given to species at-risk as well as to the implications for salmon populations related to climate change.
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 GoodMany of the lessons and extension activities encourage students to explore areas of personal interest or completing activities in a personalized manner.
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Very GoodThe resource explores various aspects of the interrelationships between salmon, their environment and other species, including humans.
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 Poor/Not considered
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 Very GoodA wide-range of activities respect and support diverse learning styles in both the cognitive and affective domains. Activities include: role-plays, individual and group research, games, simulations, presentations, experiments, etc.
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 GoodDirect experiences include field-trips to local streams and rivers while simulations and experiments encourage the understanding of the deeper connections between humans, salmon and other species.
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 GoodAlthough cooperative strategies are not discussed, many activities are group-orientated.
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 GoodA variety of assessment practices are presented. All are pedagogically sound and readily completed. Emphasis is placed on teacher and not student self-assessment. The guide would benefit from reference to the performance standards and assessment rubrics, although this may serve to more readily “date” the resource.
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 GoodThe resource encourages students to share their learning with classmates, parents and community members. Specific mentoring/teaching opportunities are not described.
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 Poor/Not consideredCase studies are not provided but role-plays are presented. Modeling is used to help students understand concepts regarding stream pollution, run-off, etc.
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 GoodSome activities are more structured and directive (such as how to dissect a salmon) but most units include a variety of extension activities that support individual interest and research.
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.