We have wrapped up our Ecosystems unit. The culmination was giving students the task of creating an ecosystem for a 'homeless' creature. The creatures were base on real animals, but were not real. So, this task wasn't about doing research about an animal and then recording facts. It was about students showing all that they know about interactions that animals have to have in order to get food, water, shelter, space and air in a addition to being able to tell where there animal would be located on a food web. As we worked our way through the unit, we worked with the following Essential Questions:
- What is the relationship between an organisms resources and the size of the population of the organism?
- Why is balance important in an ecosystem?
- We will introduce the performance task before the unit begins. This is a simple idea that I think is so brilliant. Students can gather information and check for understanding as the unit progresses and allow me to coach kids throughout the process to help them transfer their knowledge to the performance task. This transference is something that we complain that kids cannot do. I am not providing enough scaffolding for them to be successful. They will also have a much better idea of what is expected of them at the end. There would also be opportunity for students to activate their schema before the unit begins.
- I could develop the performance task base on the six facets of understanding, which is the organizer that most speaks to me, much more than the DOK because it isn't hierarchical. This project lends itself to students interpreting, applying and having a perspective.
- The performance task could be integrated into another unit that we do this year - Regions. Students could build an ecosystem about this fictional creature, but they could also build an ecosystem for animals that are closer to home, but are threatened. Could they build a better ecosystem for the grey wolf, the river otter or the kit fox?