My grade 3 students seem to be bored with the content on ecosystems. I’m wondering if anyone has any ideas of what I could do to make ecosystems more engaging?
— A., Arizona
Not being able to visit all the ecosystems in the world somewhat forces our ability to develop engaging activities. In this case, studying one or two ecosystems in depth and discovering the underlying connections that apply to all the others may be the way to teach this in an engaging manner.
I highly recommend field trips to local ecosystems and conducting simple ecological surveys. Many nature centers offer education programs that include field studies. Make sure to prepare your students for the trip and have follow-up activities afterwards. Students will also meet experts and role-models on these excursions.
You can bring ecology right into your classroom using pop-bottle ecosystems. I have written about this before (http://bit.ly/2KbeWsf ) and have a collection of resources in the Learning Center: http://bit.ly/PopBottleEcosystems.
Technology can broaden your horizon. Search for organizations that connect classrooms around the globe. Find a partner school somewhere in the world that will engage in an exchange of ecosystem data.
I successfully engaged and motivated students to dive deeply into the topic by having them research ecological or conservation issues. They used the research to develop information pamphlets, posters, and websites to advocate for action. Organize a conservation expo where students can set up booths to share their information with other students in the school or as an evening activity.
Hope this helps!
Photo credit: Kerbla Edzerdla [CC BY 3.0]