This broad-based unit lends itself to many possible culminating projects. First, the book clubs may end with the creation of a group project focusing on the settings and theme of the novels, as well as the presentations for the class, with the goals of students finding other books they want to read themselves. Second, toward the end of the school year, in May, students will have enough experiences in nature and have heard stories, read poems, and at least one work relating to the survival theme in order to write their own piece of “flash fiction.” The assignment will be structured with certain parameters regarding character development, conflict and setting. This will provide an opportunity for students to express themselves in a creative way, while anchoring them in literary elements and providing them with a foundation to think critically about their own relationship with the natural world. Third, the students could create small hardcover books of their own poetry collections that are illustrated with water colors. A fourth idea is that students create an infographic focused on an important component of their environmental learning or global climate change related issue. Whichever projects are chosen it is important for it to have a narrative component with students given a chance to write a personal reflection of their yearlong exploration of the natural world.
All students will also complete a final reflection about their nature learning over the entire year. This will give both the student and the teacher a chance to see if goals were met and the students’ relationships with nature have changed. Some guiding questions will be provided to help the students focus on the differences between their knowledge and attitudes at the beginning and end of the unit, as well as to find out which readings and videos had the biggest impact.
Both the final reflection and culminating project will become a part of the student’s portfolio of work about nature which will be housed in a binder along with their nature journal. Thus, it is hoped that a unit with many varied parts throughout the school year becomes a unified piece of learning with a strong impact on the child’s development.