This unit is designed to motivate and engage students through hands on activities and thought provoking questions that will ignite curiosity while creating a culture that develops critical, analytical, and investigative thinkers. Reaching across the curriculum, this unit wraps reading, writing, and mathematics around the science of marine ecology of the Long Island Sound. Students will be immersed in the topic through field study, observation, experimentation, simulations, models, and research. Skillful questioning techniques will encourage deeper thinking as well as improved exploration of the subject matter. The study of relationships within the system will lead to an appreciation for the fragile nature and respect for its function. Discovery of the complex interdependency of living systems would become clear, as each student becomes an expert in their marine creature studying its physical characteristics, habitat, predators and prey, food webs and chain in each ecosystem.
Students will keep daily journals of learning and would be encouraged to draw visual explanations of concepts as well as thinking maps to illustrate their pathways of questioning. As students learn information about their creature, they will illustrate and describe this information on a huge classroom wall mural. This collective expression of shared knowledge of individual subject study will reveal the connections between creatures, their environments, and other ecosystems. As a result, students will discover the diversity and interdependence between ecosystems of this beautiful body of water. In this study, students would cooperatively create a multifaceted visual illustration of the complex interdependent ecosystems as a vehicle to share information and learn about marine life and their habitats. The mural would be an ongoing pictorial expression demonstrating the collective information gathered, serving as a concrete expression of complex ideas/concepts helping students deepen their understanding of this multilayered system. In addition to illustrations, students will add captions, headings, text boxes, life cycles, timelines, as well as other text features in order to present the rich deep layers of information they are discovering. This will allow for reflection on the ecosystems within the Long Island Sound. As students learn about their creature, they will make connections to other creatures in their food web, prey, food sources, and specific characteristics of each habitat. Ultimately, it is my hope that my students would come to understand the fragile nature of each ecosystem, the interdependence of all life systems, as well as the catastrophic effects to a system if interrupted, broken, or disturbed. Through these activities, students will learn to question with confidence, skillfully drawing upon knowledge gained and driven by curiosity to notice and marvel about the world around them with an understanding that they are part of this vast, complex, interdependent living system and have an ability to affect it.
Let your students go. You don't have to know everything about their subject. Let them take the lead. Step back, guide and watch them succeed, enjoy, and grow, learning to find their way, steering their own learning. Their excitement will build as they discover answers to their questions; propelling, empowering your students as learners. The process by nature is engaging because it allows students to seek answers for their own questions developing their own interests, igniting their curiosity, as they become fully invested in asking and finding answers to their own questions.