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Ministry of Education.

Earth under pressure

Learning Outcomes | Teaching and Learning | Assessment and Evaluation | Printing Version

Writer: Megan Nelson-Latu
Year level 10
Suggested duration 8 - 10 weeks
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Who are my learners and what do they already know? Diagnostic testing can be conducted at the start of the unit to identify what students already know and areas that require development. Diagnostic testing may include asTTLe, PAT or topic based assessments. Resources from the ARB can also be valuable for this purpose, for example a task on finding information at levels 4/5. Using diagnostic testing will give the teacher a good idea of the skill level of the students within the class. Diagnostic testing should relate not only to the students literacy ability but also to their knowledge of the topic being studied. Using the data available identify specific areas on which to focus. For example ‘Finding information’.
School Curriculum Outcomes This unit develops the values and Te Kawa o Te Ako from the school’s current strategic plan, in particular the value of respect for self, others and the environment. Kaitiakitanga, the obligation to protect and nurture all living things is particularly relevant and is developed through the study of issues facing the earth and its inhabitants today and how we can create a sustainable environment. Through learning about the environment and why we must look after it students develop a greater awareness of these values and the values that they themselves place importance on.

Learning Outcomes

 (What do my students need to learn)

1-2 related professional readings or links to relevant research  
A useful article
Social Studies Level 4/5

AO L4: Understand how exploration and innovation create opportunities and challenges for people, places, and environments

AO L5: Understand how people’s management of resources impacts on environmental and social sustainability.

Specific Learning Outcomes:

  1. Describe factors putting pressure on the environment
  2. Explain the consequences of pressure on the environment
  3. Understand different points of view on an environmental issue
English Level 4/5

Purposes and audiences

  • Show an increasing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences.
  • Integrate sources of information, processes, and strategies purposefully and confidently to identify, form, and express increasingly sophisticated ideas.

Earth and beyond: Interacting systems

Investigate the water cycle and its effect on climate, landforms, and life.

Literacy learning outcomes

Students will:

  • use their writing to explain concepts, processes, phenomena, theories, principles, beliefs, and opinions (their own and other people’s) that are relevant to the curriculum task.
  • use language, text structures, and media that are appropriate for their purpose.
  • Use key vocabulary in oral and written responses.
  •  find, select, and use a range of texts for specific learning purposes in different areas of the curriculum, making decisions, as they read, about the usefulness of the text for the purpose.

Teaching and Learning

 (What do I need to know and do?)

1-2 related professional readings or links to relevant research
  • Using teaching as inquiry to improve student outcomes; Claire Amos, What New Curriculum? English in Aotearoa, Issue 71, July 2010
  •  Literacy teaching and learning in the 21st century, Bridging the theory to practice gap; Sue McDowall, SET, Research information for teachers, No. 2, 2010
  • Possibilities for summative assessment in Social Studies; Bronwyn E. Wood & Andrea Milligan, SET, Research information for teachers, No. 2, 2010
Learning task 1
Learning task 2
Learning task 3
Learning task 4
Annotated exemplar 1
Annotated exemplar 2

Assessment and Evaluation

 (What is the impact of my teaching and learning?)

Literacy learning Outcomes:

Students will:

  • use their writing to explain concepts, processes, phenomena, theories, principles, beliefs, and opinions (their own and other people’s) that are relevant to the curriculum task
  •  use language, text structures, and media that are appropriate for their purpose
  • Use key vocabulary in oral and written responses

Social Studies Outcomes:

  • Describe factors putting pressure on the environment
  • Explain the consequences of pressure on the environment
  • Understand different points of view on an environmental issue

Within this unit there are numerous opportunities for formative assessment. The final assignment along with the essay should be used for summative assessment and reporting on. This can be assessed for botht the literacy and specific Social Studies learning outcomes.

It is important that teachers use formative assessment to inform teaching practice.

Effective formative assessment should be used to inform the learning and teaching process. Teachers should be using formative assessment to guide the next steps in a teaching and learning sequence and to assess where students’ are achieving.


Written feedback should be provided to students for the essay tasks (both in the Population study and individual inquiry) in order for them to identify the next steps and what they have done well.

Teachers should be conducting formative assessment by asking themselves the highlighted questions (in blue throughout the unit) each time a strategy is used. Is it working? Are the students actively engaged? Are they progressing as expected? Are students acting on feedback to improve their learning? Do I need to review this strategy and use it again?

Teachers should also be regularly monitoring the students learning logs to identify specific areas of need and to gauge interest.

Students are provided with choice in the selection of :

  • their inquiry topic.
  • their ability to choose the way in which they present their findings.

By giving students choice they are able to choose topics and presentation formats that interest them and utilise their individual strengths. By providing students with an opportunity to present their findings to an audience they develop in confidence and it also provides a meaningful sharing of knowledge.

Self assessment is also crucial through the regular completion of learning logs and also the self assessment matrices attached to both the essays and the inquiry assignment. Self assessment allows the students to critically reflect on their own learning.

ARBs can also be used as diagnostic assessment. For example, if students are already skilled at finding information relevant to the question then less time can be devoted to developing this skill in class and more devoted to another area for development. Diagnostic testing enables teachers to make decisions relating to the specific learning needs of the class.

Provision for identifying next learning steps for students who need:

  • further learning opportunities
  • increased challenge
Students can be provided with numerous opportunities for increased challenge over the course of this unit. Some students may not require the scaffolded essay writing process and instead may choose to write their essay without it. Another opportunity for extension arrives in the inquiry assignment where students may develop their own research questions to answer the overarching question. Students are also able to choose their method of presentation which enables them to build on skills and talents they may have in a particular area.

Tools or ideas which, for example might be used to evaluate:

  • progress of the class and groups within it (including literacy progress)
  •  student engagement
  • leading to :
  • changes to the sequence
  •  addressing teacher learning needs

Learning logs – These enable students to reflect on a regular basis on their own learning and understanding. Teachers are able to use these logs to identify next learning steps, reteaching points or ways in which the teaching and learning process could be modified.

Writing samples can be used to assess where the students are achieving and next learning steps. For example, an essay may show that the students are able to write in paragraphs but that they are unable to link their thoughts and ideas.

Throughout the course of this topic there may be areas which particularly interest students. For example in the ‘Pressure on Living Things” section students may display a desire to learn more about endangered species and the threats they face. This may provide an opportunity for greater learning and progress as it is driven by student interest.

It is important for students to have the opportunity to revisit strategies and ideas that they found interesting or particularly useful. This also enables students to develop a greater understanding of when and where they can use a particular strategy to assist them and in a cross curricular context.

It is important to ask the following questions as found in Using Inquiry to Plan Secondary English Programmes as they are relevant in any subject or curriculum area. They enable the teacher to reflect on the teaching and learning process and ways in which it could be improved/changed to improve student success.

  1. Did your students demonstrate understanding of learning outcomes?
  2. Are there particular groups of students whose needs are not being met?
  3. Which texts/topics/tasks/activities did students engage with?
  4. Did all students complete all assessments?
  5. Were there any issues around absenteeism at any particular point during the programme?
  6. Could this have impacted on learning?
  7. What are the implications for our future planning?

Printing this unit:

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Published on: 13 Dec 2010