|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
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.