Students used blogging as a way to guide their learning about ecosystems. As a class we brainstormed ecosystem issues while watching a documentary. Groups then used a series of blog prompts to design their own learning around specific concepts in relation to their chosen issue. 

 

Beginning

Watch HOME Video as a class with a backchannel (todaysmeet.com, or D2L chat worked well for us). We discussed things and ideas arising in the video as well as brainstormed a list of possible ecosystem issues that could be investigated. 

Action

Students choose an environmental/ecosystem issue and worked through a series of blog post promtps to share their environmental issue with classmates and others. Blog posts could consist of any type of media (audio recordings, video, images, etc.).  Examples of topics included coal mining in South Africa and declining habitat for polar bears in the arctic. Students also designed investigation to study one aspect of their environmental issue. For example, one group was interested in the impact of ash on plant growth and so grew seedlings with and without ash in the soil to compare. 
 

Wrap-up

Groups presented their learning to classmates in a variety of formats. 

 

Digital Tool Uses: 

  • Brightspace by D2L (the Provincial virtual learning environment) to communicate and share resources among the class, including blog post prompts and rubrics 
  • Blogging platform - a tools such as Blogger could be used 
  • Tools for sharing - some students created video, audio recordings, images or posters 

Digital Online Safety Notes: 

  • school and board polices must be adhered to
  • parent permission is required
  • terms of use and privacy terms of any digital tool must be considered
  • an alternative to blogging, such as writing digital journal entries or that are not shared freely online could be used 
  • digital citizenship and literacy learning must be integrated into course
  • a progression supporting gradual release of responsibility can be used to model appropriate communication using online such as blogs. Teachers can begin by reading and commenting on blog posts as a class. They can then do this in small groups and eventually, begin writing and commenting on blog post individually 

Science Safety Notes: 

  • school and board policies are adhered to
  • science safety is embedded throughout the course in an intentional manner
  • students submit safety precautions and procedures for approval prior to beginning any investigations 

Assessment Note: 

  • this activity lends itself to lots of conferencing with groups and co-creating success criteria for specific groups
  • observations, conversations and products (blog posts) should be assessed - not just the final product 
  • integrating a set of critical response norms to encourage effective peer feedback and conversations is important 
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