Several weeks were devoted to groups learning various strategies for researching and organizing information about a specific animal. The focus of this Lucy Calkins reading unit of study was more on the process of researching than the creation of an end product. This freed us to invite the students to draw on their creativity to design and present an interactive and engaging way of sharing their research with their peers.
After brainstorming a list of possible ways to share their research findings, the groups presented their learnings through games, scavenger hunts, comics, and nonfiction documentary styled day-in-the life stories, while including key vocabulary and concepts. From here we asked the students to reflect on their group work experiences and identify, “What Makes a Supportive Learning Partner?”. We used these reflections to support additional group work. The students next paired with someone who had studied a different animal and together they identified interdependent relationships that they observed in a video on the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park (check it out!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q. This activity was a springboard for discussing humans’ role and responsibility in our global ecosystem. Students were then challenged to create an image and a powerful message to humans about their responsibility in maintaining the balance of our global ecosystem, told from the point of view of animals (either researched, or observed in the Yellowstone video.)
The concluding piece to this unit will tie back to the individual student’s reflections on his/her own role in maintaining balance in our classroom / school / global ecosystem.