|Environmental Education in the Schools: Creating a Program that Works ! (Peace Corps, 1993, 499 p.)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
One way to help students explore relationships between objects, processes, events, and ideas is to use word webs or concept mapping. This technique can be used to help promote creativity, description, and understanding, and it can help improve writing skills.
Many teachers use concept mapping to create problem trees to help students develop problem-solving skills. Problem trees use the visual webbing technique to break a problem into its causes and solutions. For example, if a country has a problem with poverty and malnutrition, you could work backwards to ask why poverty and malnutrition are problems. Eventually you might build a problem tree that looks like this and includes a variety of causes and problems:
Poverty and Malnutrition
Land and Water Degradation
Low Yields and Profits
Lack of Understanding of Soil Conservation Practices
Lack of Appropriate Accessible Technologies
Lack of Access to Credit
High Crop Losses
Tradition and Politics
Lack of Extension Services
Insufficient Individual Collateral
Lack of Access to Appropriate Technology
Lack of Extension Improved Adapted Technologies
(Example reprinted with permission from "Peace Corps' Programming and Training System " published by Peace Corps Information Collection and Exchange, 1991.)
We've included two sample activities that make use of concept mapping. The first focuses on water and leads from webbing to poetry. The second activity makes use of concept webbing to help students understand the issues surrounding solid waste disposal and health.
ACTIVITIES IN THIS SECTION
1. AQUA WORDS, reprinted with permission from Aquatic Project IN THIS WILD published by the Western Regional Environmental Education Council (1987).
2. INFUSION ACTIVITY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, adapted with permission from An Environmental Education Approach to the Training of Elementary Teachers: A Teacher Education Programme published by UNESCO-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme (Environmental Education Series #27).
OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to describe a variety of ways and reasons to why water is important to people and wildlife.
AGES: Primary, intermediate
SUBJECTS: Language arts, science
MATERIALS: Writing materials, pictures (optional)
Water is central to all life and life activities. Plants and animals must have water to survive. Water represents about 75% of a person's body weight and covers nearly 75% of the earth's surface. Nearly everything on earth can be directly or indirectly traced to a connection with water. Rocks channel water into streams; streams and rivers carry water across the land- Ponds, lakes, marshes, and swamps often hold water in place- Trees draw water from the soil and transport it up into leaves and out again into the air. Clouds are airborne carriers of water across the sky.
Wildlife needs water for survival. The water must be clean and free of toxic contamination. Humans use water for many purposes other than drinking. Care must be taken to protect water quality.
Water is a source of beauty and recreation. It is the basis of a massive planetary transportation system. Water grows our food, cools our cars, and is one of the first things on the list of substances the astronauts take into space. The driest desert has water--and there are about 320,000,000 cubic miles of water in the oceans. The tiny plants that live in the earth's oceans--phytoplankton--produce one-third or more of our oxygen, a gas vital to vertebrate respiration.
1. Have the students bring in photographs from magazines that show water. Ask them to look especially for pictures that show how living things depend upon water. Display these photographs and use them as a basis for discussion. (optional)
2. Ask students to think about some of the ways they have used water that day. The pictures (if collected) may be used to get them started. Emphasize how all living things are ultimately connected to water. Water is important. All life depends upon water in some way.
3 Using a long strip of butcher paper or spacious empty chalkboard for recording, ask the students to list at least 100 words that have something to do with water. Ask them to think of words about water, including its importance to people and wildlife. Keep students stretching into new areas by suggesting examples and categories of ideas if they get bogged down. Note: For younger students, use pictures or a combination of words and pictures.
4. Using the list of words that were recorded, ask the students to create word trees of water-related words. Begin with a simple word tree like the one shown on the left.
Finally if possible, ask the students to create even more complex word trees.
5. When students have finished several word trees, have them look at what they have done and create one or two poetic definitions of water or water-related concepts. These could begin: "Water . . . ', or
"Water is . . . " For example, using the word tree condensation-- cloud--rain--storm, you might get "Water is gray clouds condensing into a loud summer storm." If not definitions, the students could create sentences or even paragraphs about water.
6. When students have completed their poetic statements, have them write them onto various shades of blue, aqua, gray, white, and green construction paper cut to graphically fit the feeling of their idea. Arrange these cut outs on a wall or window in an aesthetic fashion.
Note: Some students have arranged them in the shape of a stream, river, pond, lake or ocean. Others have formed the water cycle from their words and images. Some simply have written each of their words on a piece of paper shaped like a water drop.
Create a class book with each student's page included. Students write their poetic definition at the bottom of the page and then illustrate their idea--for example, with water colors--at the top of each page.
Tell three ways you use water.
Tell how plants use water.
Tell how animals use water.
Why is water important?
INFUSION ACTIVITY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
OBJECTIVES: Identify problem-oriented environmental and health issues associated with solid waste management issues. Identify solutions to solid waste management issues. Create an issue web showing the relationship between health and environmental issues.
SUBJECTS: Health, Science
MATERIALS: Copies of page 279, chalkboard, chalk.
There are several productive ways of organizing this activity. Regardless of the sequence used, teachers should engage students in brainstorming, issue investigation (i.e., using secondary sources), and synthesizing results- The following represents one way of introducing students to issue webbing.
This sequence consists of five parts. Prior to beginning the activity, teachers should be prepared to expose students to a partially completed web (e-g-, the issue webbing example found in this activity, or an example of their own design) on an individual basis (e.g., individual worksheets) and on a collective basis (e.g., blackboard, newsprint, or posterboard). Teachers should begin the activity by illustrating the complexity of many environmental health issues (i.e., large issues that often subsume a number of smaller, interrelated component issues). During this introduction, teachers may need to clarify what an issue is, and to suggest that parties may be at issue over one or more problems, one or more alternative solutions, or as is often the case, some combination of problems and solutions. It may also be useful to help students differentiate between environmental and human health issues that comprise larger, complex environmental health issues.
Several terms are used in this activity that may require definition or clarification by the teacher. For the purpose of this activity, these terms and their intended meanings include:
ENVIRONMENTAL: primarily used in reference to natural/ecological conditions (e.g., species populations and their habitats, air and water, soil and rock layers, ecosystems)
HEALTH: primarily used in reference to human physical/ physiological conditions (e.g., skin, intestinal, respiratory conditions)
PROBLEM: primarily used in reference to perceived adverse impacts of (i.e., causes) or perceived adverse impacts from (i.e., effects) some bio-physical condition or conditions (e.g., the ecological and human respiratory effects of exposure to differing types of air pollution)
SOLUTION: primarily used in reference to alternative actions that may be taken in an attempt to curtail such adverse impacts, or to reverse the negative effects of those impacts
ISSUES: primarily used in reference to problems and/or solutions on which human beings (i.e., as individuals or as groups) take differing positions, and in reference to positions which they support or defend by using differing rationales
Once the teacher senses that students comprehend these aspects of environmental health issues, the teacher should introduce students to the issue they plan to use in the remainder of the activity (e.g., the solid waste management issue). The class should be presented with the large, collective representation of the partially completed web for that issue. The webbing format should be briefly described (i.e., including the four quadrants of the web). Then, the teacher should engage in two brainstorming sessions. During the first session, students are asked to suggest adding to, modifying, or deleting from the partially completed environmental side of the web. In following the rules of brainstorming, students may not modify or delete other students' suggestions (i.e., only parts of the partially completed web provided by the teacher). The teacher, or designee, should record students' suggestions in a separate list. When the list is temporarily complete, items on the list are open to discussion, and if agreed upon, to inclusion in the larger, collective web (e.g., on a blackboard). While some attention must be paid to relationships among problem- and solution-oriented issues, the emphasis should be upon developing the basic structure (i.e., component issues) of the web. This will be attended to in greater detail in the last part of the activity. Once students are relatively comfortable with the environmental side of the issue web, the teacher should oversee a second brainstorming session for the human health side of the issue web. The same rules and procedures should be followed as in the previous session.
The third part of the activity focuses upon the improvement and expansion of the issue web the class has created. Students should be organized into small groups, and assigned one quadrant of the web (e.g., solid waste-related environmental problems, solid waste-related human health solutions). It is their task to review secondary source materials that provide information about issues that fall within their quadrant. On the basis of their findings, groups are asked to add to, modify, and/or delete from the web in their quadrant. They may also be encouraged to keep notes about relevant issues that fall in other quadrants, and about relationships between issues in their and in other quadrants.
During the fourth part of the activity, each group will be asked to report back to the whole class the results of their reviews. Each group will have the chance to present and discuss their additions to, modifications of, and deletions from their quadrant of the web. Members of other groups may ask for clarification, or on the basis of their own review, provide additional insight into the proposed changes in the web. Disagreements about the inclusion/exclusion of any component issue may be resolved in several ways. If the disagreement appears to be information-based, students should be encouraged to provide information to substantiate their view. This may require additional investigation on the part of students and teacher. If the disagreement appears to be based on other beliefs or values, the issue(s) in question should be tentatively incorporated into the web (i.e., to avoid irreconcilable disagreements or rifts in the class).
At this point, the class will have pieced together a detailed graphic representation, or web of the environmental and health issues (i.e., problem- and solution-oriented) that comprise their larger issue. The final part of this activity asks students to discuss relationships among these issues (e.g., contributing causes and effects), and to depict these relationships as part of the web. They may use solid, dotted, or colored lines to depict the various types of relationships they identify. The same rules that applied to inclusion/exclusion disagreements may also be applied here. When the webbing is complete, the teacher should ask students to reflect upon the process and upon the results of their efforts.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ISSUES
Refuse: Landfills: Loss of Land, Surface and Groundwater Pollution
Refuse: Incineration, Air Pollution
Litter: Roadside, On-site
Sewage: Industrial, Household
Refuse Reduction: Reuse, Recycling, Returnables
Litter Reduction: Prevention, Clean-up
Sewage Disposal: Sewage Treatment: Biological, Chemical
Human Health Problems:
Human Health Solutions: