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Rationale Statement

Target Audience
In general, the Arctic alive! curriculum has been developed for students in grades 6-9. Students in these grades show an immense range of knowledge, skills and abilities. It is important to keep in mind that every lesson, activity or assessment method may not fit every student’s needs. It is also important to keep in mind that this curriculum is being developed for use by both rural and urban schools (with different length classes). Just as individual students have a range of knowledge so does one class to the next.

For these reasons, most of the pre-field trip lesson plans have been developed with varying activities and extensions. These lessons provide basic background knowledge and/or skills that will be helpful for students to be familiar with so that they get the most possible out of the virtual field trip. Being that these pre-field-trip lessons provide basic skills and contain many activities (to meet a variety of abilities), it may not be necessary or even feasible for every class to complete every lesson or activity. It is up to the teacher to choose the most applicable lessons, activities and assessments to meet the needs of their particular students.

Project-based, Authentic and Relevant
The Arctic alive! curriculum has been developed to be project-based, authentic and relevant.

  • The Project Approach refers to a set of teaching strategies which enable teachers to guide children through in-depth studies of real world topics.” Sylvia Chard
  • Authentic teaching and learning are based on the idea of applying knowledge and reasoning to situations similar to those they will encounter in the world outside the classroom. In the case of the Arctic alive! curriculum, student activities will reflect situations that approximate how scientists do their work. For instance, cooperative learning and scientific notebooks are both used as instructional methods as they both reflect how scientists in the real world work.
  • To the extent possible, this curriculum has been designed to try to make concepts and activities significant and relevant to the student. However, as an international curriculum, it is difficult to incorporate aspects that will make the curriculum relevant to all students everywhere. For this reason, it is recommended that teachers modify or add to instruction using local examples, hands-on artifacts, guest speakers, etc. as possible.
Instructional Methods
In some cases, variations on instructional methods are included within the context of the lesson plan. The reason that these variations are included is because, in some cases due to time constraints or the large amount of material to be covered, some activities have been modified. For instance, certain activities that are outlined as a demonstration could easily be a student-run experiment or rather than completing one activity as a large group, a variety of learning stations/centers could be set-up for small group, cooperative learning situations. These types of modifications, where students play a more active role, are encouraged if time, space, materials, etc. permits.

Background Information
Background information is provided. It should be said, however, that the information provided is in some cases minimal. Students should be encouraged to do further research about topics of interest or about questions that are not answered in the section. Please refer to the resources section for many excellent websites for further information.

Curriculum is Standards-Based and Interdisciplinary
The Arctic alive! curriculum has been developed and aligned with National and Alaska State Standards. The curriculum provides opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in a variety disciplines. Please see the “Interdisciplinary Study Suggestions” table for more ideas to integrate the Arctic alive! curriculum across subjects. The curriculum is based, specifically, on the standards listed below. Please see the “Standards –Lessons Correlation Matrix” for details in individual lessons.
  • National Science Education Standards - content as well as scientific inquiry skills
  • National Educational Technology Standards for Students
  • Principles and Standards for School Mathematics
  • Alaska Content, Performance and Cultural Standards
Assessment methods for this curriculum are based on the National Science Education Standards recommendations. “In this new view, assessment and learning are two sides of the same coin. The methods used to collect educational data define in measurable terms what teachers should teach and what students should learn. And when students engage in an assessment exercise, they should learn from it.

This view of assessment places greater confidence in the results of assessment procedures that sample an assortment of variables using diverse data-collection methods, rather than the more traditional sampling of one variable by a single method. Thus, all aspects of science achievement--ability to inquire, scientific understanding of the natural world, understanding of the nature and utility of science--are measured using multiple methods such as performances and portfolios, as well as conventional paper-and-pencil tests.” Types of assessment strategies that have been included are Constructed Response, Personal Communication, Performance Assessment, Portfolio/Scientific Journal and Observation. Recommendations have been made as to which assessments can be done by the teacher, peer and/or self-reflections by the individual student about their progress.

“Another important shift is toward "authentic assessment." This movement calls for exercises that closely approximate the intended outcomes of science education. Authentic assessment exercises require students to apply scientific knowledge and reasoning to situations similar to those they will encounter in the world outside the classroom, as well as to situations that approximate how scientists do their work.”

With this rationale in mind, multiple assessment opportunities are provided throughout the curriculum. It is not the intent that all possible assessment methods, that are included, be used for grading. Teachers should decided which pieces best assess the content or skills that their students need to learn and use those tools for grading purposes. Please see the “Assessment Strategies” section of the teacher’s guide for further information about assessment methods available for individual lessons and intended purpose/user of the data.

Other Educational Considerations in Curriculum Development
The Arctic alive! curriculum has been developed based on and incorporating some of the following educational theories/consideration.

Bloom ‘s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain
Knowledge Recall of recognize specific information
Comprehension Understand the information given
Application Use methods, concepts, principles and theories in new situations
Analysis Break information down into its constituent elements
Synthesis Put together constituent elements or parts to form a whole requiring original, creative thinking
Evaluation Judge the values of ideas, materials and methods by developing and applying standards and criteria.

Conceptual Challenges of Climate Change Education

Environmental Education Goals and Objective Categories
“Goal: Environmental education is a process aimed at developing a world population that is aware of and concerned about the total environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, commitments and skills to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones.

Objective Categories:
  • Awareness – to help individuals and social groups acquire an awareness of and sensitivity to the total environment and its allied problems;
  • Knowledge – to help individuals and social groups gain a variety of experiences with the total environment and to acquire a basic understanding of the total environment, its associated problems and humanity’s critical responsible presence and role in it;
  • Attitudes – to help individuals and social groups acquire social values, strong feelings of concern for the environment and the motivation for actively participating in its protection and improvement.
  • Skills – to help individuals and social groups acquire the skills for working toward the solution of environmental problems and to foster a dialogue between those groups; and
  • Participation – to help individuals and social groups develop a sense of responsibility and urgency regarding environmental problems to ensure appropriate action to help solve these problems and avoid future problems,”
Stapp, William B. & Cox, Dorothy, A. (1977). Environmental Education Activities (Adopted at the World Intergovernmental Conference of Environmental Education). Tblisi, USSR.

Learning Styles and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
Teaching strategies should provide opportunities for students to learn using varied instructional and assessment methods. Together these methods will incorporate all learning styles/intelligences into the unit of study. Gardner’s multiple intelligences include Linguistic, Musical, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Intrapersonal and Interpersonal.


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