Integrated UnitPlanner: Turn off the light, itskilling the rainforest!
Pebble PrimarySchool is located in MelbournesBayside area. It is a co-educational school with the majority ofstudents enrolled coming from Melbournes middle to uppersocioeconomic class. This means that the school receives virtuallyall of its voluntary school fees. These fees allow the school tohave many special features, including classroom access for everystudent to e-mail and the internet and interactive whiteboards inalmost all classrooms. The school has an enrollment ofapproximately 483 students, with the average class size beingapproximately 25 students. The student populationcomprises 235 girls and 248 boys. Overall enrolment in recent yearshas been maintained to accommodate smaller class sizes inP-6.
Year level:Grade3/4, VELS Level 3
Characteristics of thegroup of students:
Multiculturalism isnot a key influence in the school or the individual classroom.Students in this composite class are all at the same level asoutlined by the Victorian Essential Learning Standards. In theBayside area where this school is situated, a current local issuehas arisen which the students have shown an interest in. Members ofthe local community have been cutting down the trees along thebeach front which are blocking the view of the bay. This localissue led to the discussion of human impact on the environment, andthe implications surrounding tree felling.
Focus HSE CurriculumArea/s:
Sustainability and SocialEducation
Developing SocialResponsibility Civics and Citizenship
In line with Wilson & Murdoch (2004), who state that for maximumeffectiveness, on-going assessment is crucial (p.1), groupdiscussion and participation will be the main form of assessmentfor this unit. The students will also be formally assessed on theirrole play as well as their brochure, and a deepened understandingof the topic should be demonstrated by the students when theyre-visit their original impacts on the environment list.
The Living Rainforest: the rainforest isan environment which supports life and is effected by humanbehaviour.
Adding to the depth oftheir intended understandings of this topic, students haveundertaken several informal lessons on geography, meaning they areable to place themselves in relation to the rest of the world.Students are able to visualise, for example, where Africa is inrelation to Australia when they learn that one of the worldsrainforests is situated in this country.
This topic on rainforestsand environmental sustainability is important to this particulargroup of students due to the increasing tension surrounding thesustainability of our environment. Students need to developinformed ideas about this topic so that they can activelyparticipate in making positive changes which affect theirfuture.
Rainforests are anintegral component of the Earth's ecosystem, covering about 7% ofthe Earth's surface. Rainforests recycle and clean water and thetrees and plants within a rainforest also remove carbon dioxidefrom the atmosphere and store it in their roots, stems, leaves, andbranches. Rainforests affect the greenhouse effect, which trapsheat inside the Earth's atmosphere. Students are constantlypresented with environmental terms such as the greenhouse effectwithout having knowledge of what it actually is and how they canhelp to reduce its impact.
Today, children arepresented with many negative images and messages in relation to thefuture and sustainability of our environment. It is important toexplore how positive actions can be carried out on a local level sothat students are empowered to act rather than feel helpless inregards to their environment. This is in line with the ideaspresented by Jones (1998) who states that ultimately, the key tocreating sustainable futures is establishing strategies totransform intentions into actions. (p.235)
Humans depend onrainforests for more than just their aesthetic appeal. It isimportant for students to be aware of and understand that theirindividual actions are having effects on the environment and inturn on rainforests. This unit is intended to show students thattheir individual actions impact on more than just other humanbeings but also other species on the planet. According to Jones(1998), the idea of future generations acknowledges ourresponsibility to leave behind a world no worse than we found itfor the use of our childrens children. (p.238) This unit intendsto do just that, as well as outlining to students the way in whichour environment is interconnected, encouraging them to becomeglobal thinkers. By understanding this, it is hoped that studentswill be encouraged to respect, understand and appreciate thenatural environment and to feel some affection and responsibilitytowards it. This is extremely important when students are imaginingtheir future. As outlined by Jones (1998), There is a needformore widespread envisioning of sustainable futures (p.241) andvisioning preferred futures is also a way of taking a more activeapproach to the rapid pace of change (p.234)
Understandings/skills to bedeveloped:
Rainforests are a vitalcomponent to the Earths natural environment
Different plants and animalswithin the rainforest rely on each other for survival
Humanimpact is having negative effects on the rainforests and otherareas of the environment
Humansuse many aspects of the rainforest for every-day living.
Animals and plants are becomingendangered and extinct, and rainforest sizes aredecreasing.
We canmodify our behaviour to have more positive effects on theenvironment and in tern help to save the diminishingrainforests.
Links to VELS
Level 3 standards in Civics andCitizenship
Have theknowledge, skills and behaviours to participate in society and takeresponsible action in relation to other citizens and theenvironment at a local and broader level.
They developknowledge about their community and environment, and a sense thatindividuals contributions can care for and improve theenvironment, their own lives and the lives of others.
They explain whyprotection and care for the natural and built environment isimportant. (Civic knowledge and understanding)
They describe thebenefits of action at the local level and the democratic aspects ofthe process. They participate in activities to protect and care forthe natural and built environment. (Communityengagement)
Level 3standards in Humanities
Students developawareness and understanding of the effects of peoples interactionswith their environment and the ways in which these affect theirlives.
Level 3 standardsin English
Students use arange of strategies to interpret the main ideas and purpose oftexts for example, interpreting figurative language or linkinginformation from headings and explore characters qualities,motives and actions.
Throughdiscussion, students develop their understanding of whyinterpretations of a text may vary, and how the choice of subjectmatter is influenced by context, the authors purpose, and theintended audience.
Students recognisethat speaking and listening provide opportunities to exchangeinformation, to share and explore ideas, and to express opinionsand listen to the opinions of others.
Students developskills in listening attentively during class and group discussions,and to factual spoken texts such as audio, film and invitedpresentations. They practise identifying the topic, retellinginformation accurately, asking clarifying questions, volunteeringinformation and justifying opinions.
(Victorian Curriculum andAssessment Authority 2005)
Jones, C 1998, The need to envision sustainablefutures, in D Hicks & R Slaughter (eds), World yearbook ofeducation 1998: futures education, Kogan Page, London, pp. 231 43
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority2005, Level 3<http://vels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/downloads/vels_standards/velsrevlvl3.pdf>Accessed 15/09/2007
Wilson, J & Murdoch, K 2004, What is inquirylearning?, retrieved 21 June 2006,<www.nationalpriorities.org.uk/Resources/Priority2/2Noumea/NoPr_T006InquiryLearning.pdf>
Ways you can help save the rainforest andbe environmentally responsible
Recycle everything you can
Ask your Mum or Dad to try to use phosphate-free laundryand dish soaps.
Use cold water whenever possible.
Don't use electrical appliances for things you can easilydo by hand, like opening cans.
Re-use brown paper bags to line your trash can instead ofplastic liners. Re-use bread bags, butter tubs, etc.
Store food in re-usable containers, instead of plastic wrapor aluminium foil.
Save wire coat hangers and return them to the drycleaners.
Take unwanted, re-usable items to a charitable organizationor thrift shop.
Don't leave water running needlessly.
Install a water-saving shower head.
Set your water heater at 54.5 degrees.
Have your water heater insulated free of charge by yourutility company.
Turn your heat down, and wear more clothesinstead!
Turn off the lights, TV, or other electrical applianceswhen you're out of a room.
Burn only seasoned wood in your fireplace... and don'tlight it as often.
Ask Mum or Dad to consider the environment when they goshopping. Tell them to avoid buying food or household products inplastic or styrofoam containers whenever possible.
Start a compost pile.
Put up birdfeeders, birdhouses, and birdbaths.
Pull weeds instead of using herbicides.
Use only organic fertilizers
Compost your leaves and yard debris, or take them to a yarddebris recycler. (Burning them creates air pollution, and puttingthem out with the trash wastes landfill space.)
Use mulch to conserve water in your garden.
Take extra plastic and rubber pots back to thenursery.
Plant short, dense shrubs close to your home's foundationto help insulate your home against cold.
Walk or ride your bike instead of getting Mum or Dad todrive you.
If your friends live close to you, carpool to after schoolactivities or to school.
On the weekends, use public transport with Mum andDad
On weekends, ride your bike or walk instead.
Tell Mum and Dad to pump up the tires of theircar
Use scrap paper for informal notes to yourself andothers.
Print things on recycled paper.
Print or copy on both sides of the paper.
Use smaller paper for smaller memos.
Encourage your family, friends, and neighbours to saveresources too.
Start a club where you share interesting rainforest factswith one another, and discuss ways that you are helping to save ourrainforests and environment.