Candy is an intermediate teacher of a year 7 and 8 class. She adapted the Science Learning Hub Marine food web activity by providing an additional context to add complexity for her students to explore and apply what they had learned. The big idea for focus was the interdependence of organisms within an ecosystem, with an emphasis on how humans impact the natural balance of nature. She discusses what went well and what she would change if she did this science unit again.
I am Candy Hart. I teach a digital class at Fairfield Intermediate. This video is about the Science Learning Hub and about how I used a resource that can be accessed on that to provide insights into the development of the inter-relationship between organisms.
I used the interactive on the Science Learning Hub, which is under the food web part of that where the students were able to access individually because they have a one-to-one device. Then they used a sheet to go with that – a planner/organiser. There was the information that was on the website, and I looked at the feeding relationships between the organisms.
I looked at the reading articles on the Science Learning Hub and used those and adapted those to my group so it would give them more information or background information that they could use to further develop their knowledge of food webs. So I just maybe took a few words out to adapt it to a lower group so it wasn’t so complex, or maybe some of the ideas, I took those out as well if they didn’t relate to what I was actually doing so that it was a little but simpler and students could understand it and use the information.
I believe that there is nothing like a practical experience, so when we went on camp, we were down at the rocky shore. So we were able to bring that back and actually use it with our food web, so it directly related to the information that was on the Science Learning Hub.
[used the SLH food web interactive on the whiteboard]
That one was on the board, and I actually took screen shots of some of the little icons and used that. So the students could manipulate the little icons and actually make a food web on the board. So that was my modelling. I actually got a student to do it. So we modelled that part of it before they went on and used anything else.
I could see what they knew for a start, and the other students could actually critically analyse what the other student was doing. It was a platform for discussion, for further discussion, which could lead into developing their knowledge and asking questions. That was one of the huge benefits of this unit was I saw a massive shift in their vocab and how they were using it during activities and applying it.
What are the benefits of the interactive whiteboard?
I think it’s motivating because they are involved. They’re not just sitting there. It’s not me doing it. It’s not stagnant. So it was a good basis, so we’ve got a bit of knowledge, and there’s obviously more information on the Science Learning Hub that they can use. They had to use the information they had gathered from the interactive and then they used, had to apply it to a food web.
They were given some little pictures, which they had to use. It had a Sun on it, and it had some organisms which related to the rocky shore and the ocean. And they had to manipulate them to actually build their food web with arrows, and we had a criteria for it. So it was able to go from one thing to the next thing, so it was quite sequential. Because we had done on previous activities, then I could actually question them about why they were doing something, and they could explain it to me, and I could clarify any misconceptions.
We used an app on the iPad, and we took photos and then just they explained what they’d actually done. So with the arrows, they could actually annotate on the iPad as well. So they could add extra things to their diagrams. So it was a further development in their thinking. It didn’t just go up on the wall. It was actually able to explain it without writing. And often you get a lot more from an oral presentation than you do from a written presentation. So that was very successful.
Then we were able to put those onto their blogs so they had a real audience to get feedback from what they had done.
Who gave feedback?
They got feedback from me and from their parents because their parents were able to access that information as well, and the students were able to show them what they’d done.
Follow on activity: creating their own food webs
So I wanted them to transfer the information, the knowledge that they’d learnt and actually make their own food web using the resources around the school. So they had cameras and they went out and they sourced, and they had to take images from around the school – trees, plants, insects, birds – and then they had to combine those together and make their own food web. That was actually a really good exercise to do because I could see whether the students could transfer information over to another context.
What do you think went well in this process?
I think it was sequential, so that they had some more information that we could dig into, the transfer of the information and the use of ICT. So all those things together. And they actually did understand what would actually happen if say one population decreased or increased and what would be the flow-on effects to maybe some other organisms around there.
What was the benefit of getting the children to take photos?
I think it was a great idea to go out into the school grounds because it’s something that they see every day. And they need to know that if something happens even in the school grounds, it can affect the insect populations. Like if we did away with the grass out here, that’s going to affect other populations.
The big idea: Living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced.
And I think the big thing for me is that they can then go away and say, “OK, so I’m big into sustainability. So what’s this on a bigger scale? And what’s your part? What do you play?”
They have to go out there. They have to select an image. So it actually has to show what they want the image to show. It’s got to be a useful image. So you’ve got your critical thinking.
It’s great to have an audience for your work. It’s great to get feedback in that way. I think it’s the whole thing it’s the first part of actually putting it into something, which is maybe a different method of showing your work, so it’s not a piece of paper.
You used kidsblog, what made you choose that?
At that stage, we didn’t have Gmail for the students, and so they couldn’t log in and use Blogspot. So that’s why they were using Kidsblog. They now have their own spot, Blogspot blogs. And so a lot of the work at that stage was going onto my blog, onto the class blog, and they had kids’ blogs, and that’s where they were putting a lot of their reading work, their definitions and explanations. It was quite simple to use too and set up. That’s why I chose that one.
What would you do differently if you did it again?
Probably the decomposers in a little more in-depth so they understand that and maybe bring something else into it, a different component, like actually look at decomposing and bringing something from the outside, compost or something, that’s real to them. So they could actually look at that and see how it works and how it’s related. But I didn’t really have enough time to do it. So that would be one thing that I would do.
That was the other one with the sunlight and connecting it to the trees, that’s something else I’d go into. Like how does that work? Like they got the connection, but they weren’t too sure.
I actually do believe that that was one of the more in-depth units I was able to teach, and I think having those resources, which are easily accessed, made a big part of that because teachers don’t have a lot of time. So it’s actually able to access things, get them off the web and change it to the way that you think is appropriate for your classroom.
What was the benefit of creating a detailed plan for the unit?
So that you know where you’re going, so that you can maybe look at other ways of teaching it. So that you’re not just honed into this is how I’m going to do it. So you know that this is what I want to know, so it’s teaching method, teaching practice.