Main Question:  How is the health of the boreal forest related to the health of the planet?

Big Question:  How do we balance the needs of humans with the needs of the animals that live in the boreal forest?

Other Big Question:  How do humans use and rely on the boreal forest?

Curriculum Connections:

Other Questions:

1.  Why is the boreal forest referred to as the lungs of the planet?

2.  What human impacts are currently threatening the boreal forest?

3.  How much of the boreal forest is protected?  What does it mean to be protected?

4.  How is the boreal forest related to other ecoregions?

5.  Who are the stakeholders in the boreal forest? What are their perspectives on forest use?

6.  Who makes decisions based on how the boreal forest should be used?

7.  What can/should be done to protect or continue to protect the boreal forest?

8.  What animals species are impacted by the Boreal Forest?


The Boreal Forest: A Global Legacy - Teaching Kit

Canada’s Boreal Forest: Tradition and Transition - Teaching Kit

Canada’s Forests: Biodiversity in a changing world - Teaching Kit

Canada’s Forests: A Breath of fresh air - Teaching Kit (provincial fact sheets) (many more links) (Alberta centre for boreal studies) (Ducks Unlimited Video) (Hinterland’s Who’s Who) (list of species and info about Boreal) (info on carbon in boreal) (songbird tracking) (migration concerns)

Stuff to talk about before...






1.  Intro to Photosynthesis

-”what do we know about Photosynthesis?”

-”What did we Learn about Photosynthesis” group activity



Sept. 15-17

2.  Water Cycle as related to Photosynthesis

-Class discussion


Sept. 20

3.  Intro to Boreal Forest

-Boreal Forest teaching resources

-video clip from the Boreal Learning Network


Sept. 24

4. How much oxygen does a student use?

5. Oxygen output by tree.  How much do we use?

6.  Scale/Size of Boreal - mapping activity

+Math integration

-% of world’s boreal in Canada

-% of Cdn. boreal in each province

-land mass covered

-Boreal Forest teaching resource/

Oct. 4-7

7. Migratory Birds/Animals

1.  Boreal Songbird Network

2.  Woodland Caribou contact - Being Caribou documentary and teaching resource

3.  predators

8. The Gist Activity

Summarize a newspaper article in .... (Emily)**


1.  Choose a value related to the boreal forest -

        1.  Endangered species (ie Woodland Caribou)

        2.  Migratory birds

        3.  Carbon Sink

        4.  Oxygen Production

        5.  First Nations

        6.  Recreation

        7.  Lumber Source

        8.  Habitat

        9.  Wetlands/Water

        10. Agriculture

2.  Why is that ‘thing’ valued?  Who values it and why?

3.  What things are impacting that value?  

4.  Is enough being done to protect that value?

Background information on topic

Working in pairs - create google docs and invite your teacher and partner group to share it.

Create a presentation to share your research.  

Based on the criteria and your research, should the Boreal Forest in Alberta be declared a World Heritage Site? Be prepared to debate your position with groups who have also researched values related to the Boreal Forest.

Ecosystems - cycles

Size and coverage, different types of wildlife, science - carbon

Comparative study with the Amazon rainforest

Protection - what scientist recommend to what is actually in place

No where near where scientist recommened.  At least half should be protected..right now at 10% across Canada.

Compare different regions and levels of protection.

Promises vs. implementation

How science informs policy

All of the ‘players’ in boreal forest protection/development.  

Boreal Canada brings stakeholders together. - Boreal Forest Agreement - May 2010 (3 year implementation phase)

NGO’s working side by side with paper/forestry corporations

Proper land-use planning in specific areas. Protection keeping in mind sustainable development.

What does it mean to use the forest in a meaningful and sustainable way?

Boreal Leadership Council - roundtable of envi. org, first nations, industry(oil sands etc.)

Students represent different stakeholders in round table?


        -migrating birds (boreal to Gulf of Mexico)

                -appear on weather radar

Water - availability, for drinking and pollution

        *Water as part of the ecosystem and contributing to the global ecosystem

National Parks - allowing hunting/fishing in designated areas of parks (Aboriginal communities allowed to hunt/fish in protected areas)

Manitoba - east side of Lake Winnipeg, UNESCO site

Val - Senior Aboriginal Advisor (Goose Bay Labrador)

        -forester with Innu Nation

        -works in policy, aboriginal relations

Boreal Songbird Initiative - partner group with Boreal Canada

        -Jeff Wells, ornithologist

        -carbon in the boreal, water reports etc.

        -blog on Boreal Songbird website

Global Forest Watch - Alberta

        -maps     -Peter Lee

Outline of Tasks:

Air Output Experiment:

Tree Math


1.     How much oxygen to you breathe in one minute? One hour?  One day? On year?

2.     How much oxygen does Calgary need?


3.     How much oxygen does one tree produce each day?


4.     How many trees do you need to need in a day? Week? Month? Year?


5.     How many trees are there in an acre of forest?  How many acres does our class need?  Calgary need?  Canada?  World?


6.     Are there enough trees in the boreal forest to be the lungs of the earth?


7.   You need about 500 full-sized trees to absorb the carbon dioxide produced by a typical car driven 20,000 km per year.  Estimate how many kilometers your family drives per year.  Don’t forget to include the mileage on all vehicles used at both home and work.  How many full-sized trees does family need to absorb the carbon dioxide by your vehicle(s) in one year?

8.  Each day a full-sized tree can absorb nearly 75% of the carbon produced by the average, well-maintained car.  How many trees are needed to absorb the daily carbon from 75 automobiles?

9.  How much wood does one tree produce?


Visualization of some sort -

Comparative graphing

Motion Chart Gadget - Google

If this much is the total forest land mass (draw square), how much of this is the boreal? Rainforest? Temperate?

If this is the total land of Canada (draw square) how much is the boreal?

Choose a Value and dissect it from that standpoint:

Caribou/Migratory Birds

1.  Caribou

        -predator/prey relationships

        -land mass needed to support a herd

        -distance from humans needed



                -human activity

                        1.  decreases habitat

                        2.  increases predator accessibility

        -what’s being done by industry/NGO’s to protect caribou herds

        -why should we care anyway?

        -balancing human needs and nature

        -how do we determine what should happen to a specific piece of land?  What factors                 determine how the land is used? not-used?

                -Kim Morton

Big Question:

How do we balance the needs of humans with the needs of the animals that live in the boreal forest?


1.  Caribou

Group #1: x4 slides

        Caribou - what they need

        1.  What is the habitat of the caribou?

        2.  Unique characteristics of caribou?

        3.  Migratory patterns, why do they migrate?

        4.  Specific needs of caribou

        5.  Predation

        6.  How are caribou connected to the boreal

        Group #2: x4 slides

        Industry as related to caribou habitat

        1.  Who are the stakeholders in the Boreal?

        2.  What sort of industry is active in the area that caribou live/migrate to?

        3.  What products do we use that come from the boreal?

        4.  How does this industry affect the habitat of the caribou?


        TOGETHER answer big question: x2 slides

        Overall do you think we are doing enough to balance the needs of caribou with the                 needs of humans?

                -What is one way humans are protecting the needs of caribou?

                -Are we doing enough?

2.  Migratory Birds

        Group #1

        What do they need?

        Group #2

        Industry as related to migratory bird habitat

3.  Wolves/Bear

        Group #1

        What do they need?

        Group #2

        Industry as related to large predators


-Donna to come in give a talk on database searches

-Website credibility -

-Bias Balanced - find one stat from industry AND environmental NGO/steward organizations

-Source before the data




Proficient readers can distill a lengthy paragraph, passage or article into its essential ideas.  GIST helps students learn to write a summary through a carefully guided sequence of instruction.  Students are required to select key information, deciding what to include or leave out, and then asked to organize this information effectively.


Because of the restricted length of the GIST summary, students are compelled to use the three major strategies necessary for the comprehension and retention of key ideas – deleting trivial information, selecting key ideas, and generalizing in their own words.  The GIST strategy advances both reading comprehension and writing fluency.



Distinguish between important and support details.

Paraphrase with a purpose.                




  1. Select a short passage that has an important main idea.  A passage of three to five paragraphs is ideal.  Put these paragraphs on an overhead transparency.
  2. Display only the first paragraph on the overhead for the students to read.
  3. After they have read the paragraph, instruct them to each write a summary of the text in their own words in 20 words or less.
  4. As a class, generate a composite summary on the board of 20 words or less, with the students using their individual summaries as guides.
  5. Reveal the next paragraph of text and have students generate a summary of 20 words or fewer words that encompasses both paragraph one and paragraph two.
  6. Continue this procedure, paragraph by paragraph, until the students generate a GIST statement for the entire passage.  With increase practice, students will be able to generate GIST statements across entire passages without the intermediate paragraph by paragraph steps.



This strategy can be applied to newspaper articles.  Students read newspaper articles obtained from newspaper websites or hard copies of the news. Students then identify the "5Ws and H" (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How). Next, students use their notes to write a 20-word summary or GIST.


Pecha Kucha

        -10 slides total x 30 seconds/slide = 5 minutes



-credibility/suitability of resources

-peer feedback and/or review

-collaboration (work habits)


-inquiry/depth of questioning

-depth of understanding



Limit number of species a group can choose from:

caribou, grey wolf, grizzly bear, wolverine, songbirds, other migratory birds (swans), whooping crane, herons, snowshoe hare, pine beetle?

Alberta culling of wolves to save the caribou herds as oppose to saving habitat

Group Selection

pick a partner - teacher chooses the two sets of partners


two columns - one for script and one for image

storyboard edited by another group


10 slides, 30 seconds each

In a group of 4, each child was responsible for memorizing 2 slides and then share last two slides.

Time needed to practice script.  


May need to be modified to reduce length, or mark different parts at different times.


Have Donna come in to introduce the database at the beginning of the project - very helpful

Timeline:  About a month starting at the beginning of October after camp.

Introductory Activities:


1.    Introduce the three levels of questions and practice each.  Working alone or with the person next to you ask 3 related type questions,  i.e. How often do you play video games?  Do you think this affects your health?  What is the positive and negative effects of video games on children?

2.    Introduce the boreal forest by having the students answer the following type 1 questions:  What is the boreal forest?  Where is it located?  How much of the boreal forest is in Canada?  How much of the boreal forest is wetlands?  What types of organisms live in the boreal forest?  What type of human activity takes place in the boreal forests in Canada?

3.    Watch the Planet Earth video sections on the boreal forest and add to the research questions above.