- What is the relationship between the size of the deer herd and the number of resources available to the deer? and
- Why is balance important in an ecosystem?
After playing the game, we discussed possible answers to these questions, but didn't document any of them yet. My plan is to put together their data, and then have them use a thinking routine to capture their thinking. (Chalk Talk? Step Inside?) My intent is for them to synthesize their thinking at this late point in the unit. Our next topic is to look at the interactions that trees have in order to survive and I am planning on using the same questions for that study: What is the relationship between the size of a tree, or health of a tree and the number of resources available? and Why is balance (for trees) important in an ecosystem?
Honestly, I am really struggling to effectively put the UbD into practice. I am overwhelmed by the scope of the book and am realizing that I also don't always put enough effort into the "big picture" planning that is necessary to really implement the different components. So, I am working in small steps to implement Essential Questions to smaller pieces of my plan. This is why I am just looking at the next two weeks of science. I am also thinking that I will use and/or revise these Essential Questions for our final, culminating project in the Ecosystems unit where student have to create an ecosystem for a fictional "homeless" creature.
Tuesday, January 28th - After playing Oh Deer! on Friday, we came back on Monday, reviewed our data, then the kids recorded their answers to the essential questions. This was obviously just a first shot at this. I used the routine Claim, Support, Question. We talked at length about the meaning of balance in an ecosystem, what could throw and ecosystem off balance, what are some factors (disease, predators) that could alter the health of a deer herd. Students were then challenged to write a Claim, Support and Question that addressed either one or both questions. Some attempted to answer very literally, others put together claims that were based more on real life. Here are a few samples:
- I claim that if the population goes down really low, it will nearly double in the next few years. I claim that because in Oh Deer, when we had 100, it went up to 180. What would happen if the deer population went down to 0?
- I claim that the deer go down because of some wildfire or something horrible. I claim that because I watch videos of wildfires killing poor animals. What else makes deer population go down?
- I claim that, when the deer population drops down all the deer will have a lot of food so the next year deer will have babies then the population will go up again. I claim that because nature comes and goes but population can go and come back and I also predicted that. I wonder if deer have a litter of babies or one each time.
- I claim that balance is important in an ecosystem. Also because deer need water. All animals need waater and if they had no water then they would die. How is water not affected in a forest fire?