The Tuesday 12: 12 Wonderful Resources for Teaching Students about the World’s Water Systems

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll be looking at resources focusing on the world’s water systems.  I love to teach this unit to my grade 8 students because there are so many interesting and vital aspects to consider; for example, students learn about personal water conservation, the global water crisis, weather and extreme weather events, climate change, pollution, the chemistry of water, and the role water plays in economic, societal, political, and health issues. Just click on the title to be brought to each resource!

1. Operation WellFound. “Water: A Precious Resource.”

The activities in this lesson plan help students to understand how much water they use on a regular basis and how that compares to other people in the world.  I’ve done this activity with my students and it is an eye-opening experience for them.  It really helps to put into perspective how lucky we are.

2. The United Nations. The Global Water Crisis.

This site has excellent resources both for teachers and students.  In addition to the teacher lessons plans, there are many interesting links for students; for instance, there is a water alert game, a quiz, various people tell their stories of water related issues (e.g. there’s a video clip of Jay-Z exploring the water crisis in Africa), and ways to help people around the world gain access to clean and safe drinking water.

3. Strauss, Rochelle. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth. Toronto: Kids Can Press Ltd, 2007.

This is an absolutely gorgeous book and the content is just as good.  One Well: The Story of Water on Earth incorporates information of water statistics, conservation, our reliance on water, and the vital role water plays in our lives; however, the information is conveyed in a captivating manner.  Throughout the book, the theme of how all the water on Earth is connected and how we are all connected to that same water is emphasized.  Excellently written and beautifully illustrated!

4. The Story of Stuff. “The Story of Bottled Water.”

Bottled water is all around us.  Unfortunately, not many people know the implications of drinking bottled water.  After watching this movie, challenge your students to ban the bottle!

5. And of course, our resource to go along with “The Story of Bottled Water”!

A great way to integrate media literacy and science!

6. Water 1st International. Water 1st Curriculum.

During this lesson, students learn about the water cycle, their water usage, water facts, how lack of access to clean water affects people, and how they can make a difference.  It also includes writing assignments, art activities, and science activities to make this lesson cross-curricular.

7. The Water Project. The Water Crisis- Lesson Plans for All Grades.

A great way to bring social justice and activism into your classroom.  After learning about how the global water crisis has a severe impact on many people in the world, students can work together to raise funds and awareness for various water projects.

8. Learn About the Water Crisis.

This website provides complete units on the water crisis and they are divided by grade levels: elementary, middle school, and high school level curriculum.  There is an extensive amount of resources on this site and the activities are great!

9. WWF. Grade 8 Water. Schools for a Living Planet.

You need to sign in to access the units on this site, but I suggest you do so, since signing up is free and the WWF has great science unit plans! This is an excellent unit plan that takes you through the chemical makeup of water, to the difference between salt water and fresh water, climate change, water conservation, and the need to protect water resources.

10. Water Systems Information.

I’ve used this site as an introduction to my water systems unit.  Not only does it provide a good review of concept students have already learned, but it also gives students a great repository of information about oceans, lakes, rivers, currents, the water cycle, climate, and the chemistry of water.

11. 22nd Annual International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment. This year’s theme is “Water: Where Does it Come From?”

The contest is open to students aged 6 – 14 years old from the United States and Canada.  Submissions are due March 1, 2013. I definitely want to do this with my students!

12. Alaska K-12 Science Curricular Initiative. “Hands-On Lessons”

This site has some great hands-on science lessons on a variety of water topics, including the water cycle, glaciers, water scarcity, streams, and evaporation!

Don’t forget to check back next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!


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Assessment as Learning: Student Self-Assessment During Math Lessons

Assessment as learning has to do with metacognition, which is simply “thinking about thinking.”  During assessment as learning, students would think about their own knowledge, learning, and thinking in order to gain a better understanding of how well they have attained concepts and they are now actively involved in their learning.  According to, “assessment as learning occurs when students are actively engaged in the assessment process; that is, they monitor their own learning, use assessment feedback from teacher, self, and peers to determine next steps, and set individual leaning goals.”

An important step in assessment as learning is the student’s understanding of the lesson and what they should be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson.  This is referred to as the learning goal.  Each lesson (or group of lessons) should have a learning goal that is written in student-friendly language.  For each learning goal, there should be a list explaining what meeting the learning goal looks like.  These are referred to as the success criteria and they too should be written in student friendly language. I prefer to use personal pronouns in the learning goals and success criteria to make them more personalized for my students. For example, the learning goal is usually written as “We are learning to…”, while the success criteria is then stated as “We can…”.

In math, we have developed a chart that is placed as the front page of each unit.  The same chart can be used for each chapter of math and this is where we record the learning goal for each period of instruction and the corresponding success criteria. 

I usually provide the learning goal in student-friendly language to my students at the beginning of the lesson.  After the lesson, we review what we have learned by developing the success criteria together.  I find that this is a great way to wrap up the lesson and summarize the key concepts.  The only drawback is that this does take quite a bit of time. The first few times I did this with my class, it took almost 30 minutes and it really cut into the math work period.  I really started to doubt whether this was a good idea, but with practice, my students became more efficient at reviewing the key concepts and recording them as success criteria.  I also record the learning goal and success criteria as an anchor chart for easy review.

learning goals for math

After students complete their homework and assignments for each particular learning goal, they then reflect on how well they understood the concept, how well they did on the homework/assessments, and they consider their next steps.  When students have these sheets on their desks, it is very easy to circulate through the room and determine how well students understood the lesson based on their choice of happy/sad face.  If many students choose the sad face, then I know that I need to review this concept further with my class (which then becomes assessment for learning for the teacher).

By clicking on the image above, you’ll be brought to the pdf so that you can use this chart with your own students.  It works very well and it is a great way for students to be actively engaged in their learning.

School and Home Connection

As I sit and watch my son go through his karate lesson for the day, I think about all the students who cannot participate in such activities.  I asked myself how I, as a mother, would feel if my child could not participate due to lack of access.  Or what about the parents lacking a support system within their family to enable their child to participate in such activities (such as transportation to and from, driving, financial, timing issues).  When I say activities, I don’t specifically mean karate, but any extra specialty program be it art, or dance etc.  I would feel helpless as a mother, knowing that developing my child into a well rounded individual is important, but I couldn’t due to constraints.  I firmly believe that the school should also be a place where this type of access can be provided.

Recently, my son, came home with a registration form for 10 dance classes (covering hip hop, tango, salsa and merengue) which would be offered once per week during school hours.  I was elated because this program (offered through a dance company) would not cut into our already hectic schedule.  I immediately signed him up.

So I started to ask around and found that some schools have started to realize that providing access to outside programs in a school setting are worthwhile and support the families in their communities.   Furthermore, these programs provide specialized instruction in programs that extend beyond our curricular expectations.

Some examples that I have heard are the following:

Karate classes, dance classes, yoga, pilates & fitness classes, art & crafts, cooking classes, babysitting certification and piano instruction.

Every parent I have spoken to are grateful for this opportunity as it supports their endeavours in developing their child(ren) but do not create more stress for the family to make the commitment.

I found that most of these programs are also offered at discounted rates and that schools also receive a percentage from registrations.  What a great fundraising idea!

Are you at a school that has an initiative as such?  Please leave a comment and help us learn more!