Category Archives: Environments
Building on last year’s Exploring Environments units (G10 Environmental Science), in which students formed groups and designed their own units of inquiry, we have once again taken on the science-writing challenge.
Brief: write a 1,200-1,500 word article for an online audience highlighting a case study connected to your unit’s central ideas. The articles should be aimed at peers and smarter, and should include properly-used media and video where appropriate.
Assessment: One World and Communication in Science
Process: Topics proposed and drafted through GoogleDocs, with students seeking feedback on writing through highlighting and comments in the GoogleDocs. In the final sessions they put the articles together in WordPress and gave peer-feedback for quality of presentation, flow and message. We aimed to use images found through CreativeCommons Search and through Getty’s free Images (though the embed widget went squiffy on some of their wordpress editors).
Teacher note: this kind of task is a great way to realise that we are all language teachers. Managing workflow through GoogleDocs/Hapara makes commenting on drafts easier, though students need to keep their work there in order to show progression.
Some highlights (with a range of scores) are posted below. Please click-through, read them and leave some encouraging comments!
- Bottom-trawling: destroying centuries of growth, by Polina
- Nozomi asks “Should we eat bugs?“
- “The ocean is turning to blue vinegar,” according to Jay
- Saumil explores George Monbiot’s articles on “how wolves change rivers” and how rewilding might help us return nature to some semblance of its former glory.
- Nyeong-Min asks us to “protect our UV protector“
- Seung-Cheol tells a bee story, exploring colony collapse disorder
- Luke coughs his way through the Beijing air pollution and places our demand for cheap goods at the root
- Lucas gives an explainer of PM2.5 pollution and thinks about what we can do about it.
- Andy gets concerned about the effect of CO2 on our beach time
- Koh asks if fish farming is a viable alternative to overfishing
Click here for a summary of our recent student-designed Grade 10 (MYP5) Environmental Sciences unit that we planned for students to design and implement. I used this project as my trial for Hapara, a GoogleDocs dashboard system.
In summary, using this as a management tool allowed for a smooth and highly differentiated, student-led inquiry unit in MYP 5 Environmental Science. Find out more.
As we finish our Exploring Environments student-designed units, students have published blog posts for the science communication assessed task. In this task, assessed for Communication in Science, they had to pick a case study or current news item of interest and direct connection to their group’s unit. Using guidance, models of good science writing, GoogleDocs drafting (and for some, pointers from professional science writer Andy Revkin), they wrote short articles on their case study.
There’s no point writing for an audience of one, so…
..here they are!
If you do visit and feel like posting a comment, remember that these are school students, and that your comments must be appropriate, constructive and positive.
- Maggie’s post on fighting Aricanized bees with… more bees!
- Heather’s post on invasive mussels and their damaging impacts.
- Parina’s post on 13 oils spills in 30 days (!)
- Joanna’s post on Australia burning.
- Kyoko’s post on painting the roof white to cool the town.
- Rohan’s post on the cost of shark finning.
- Sanam’s post on the end of the reign of the king of butterflies.
- Stephanie’s post on cell phones and honeybees.
- Mahya’s post on Australia’s new colour on the temperature chart.
- TaeHyun’s post on spring floods and the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.
- Yota’s post on Sea Shepherd vs Japan.
- Aili’s post on bluefin tuna being worth too much dead to be allowed to live.
- Cedric’s post on the mystery of the dead pigs in China.
- Mikka’s post on the shrinking Antarctic ozone hole.
- Haruki’s post on the highest global temperatures in 4,000 years.
“How do we head through nine billion people by around 2050 without really screwing up too much?”
Andy Revkin writes the DotEarth blog for the New York Times, and has been writing about the environment for almost thirty years. His topics are diverse (and his Twitter stream rich with links) and connected to much of what our students have chosen to explore in our current Environmental Sciences unit in Grade 10 (MYP5).*
He very kindly agreed to G+ Hangout with some students before school, to discuss science writing in general and how he masters his craft on the environment beat. We learned a lot from Andy, and loved his assertion that he is not a ‘doom and gloom’ writer, but that the environment is different, and more complex than we first thought.
Here are links to some of the ideas & issues he mentioned in the chat:
- His ‘Postcards’ series, snapshots of science and environmental research
- Psychology & the environment
- Schools and syllabuses designed with the environment in mind
- Twitter in the classroom
- Obama and the National Academy of Sciences
- Will we have fewer, more dangerous hurricanes?
- The Burning Season book: the murder of Chico Mendez
*As part of our current Grade 10 Environmental Science unit, students have broken into groups depending on their interests and IBDP Sciences choices. They have designed their own unit content, though assessment types are common – a lab they design, a test we’ll write based on their chosen assessment statements and a piece of science writing. I’ll dedicate a whole post to how the unit worked once we’re done.
For the science writing task, students are asked to find real-life articles, case-studies or stimulus materials that will provide a context for some of their content. We showed them some models, of great science writing, but I realised my Twitter lists were light on environment writers.
A quick tweet (and some follow-up emails) fixed all that:
Thanks again to Andy for chatting to us – it was a great opportunity to talk to a real pro.
It is also evidence, once again, that Twitter can be an amazing tool for classes and professional development.