This past week in science, I led our students in the construction of ecosystem mobiles. We were learning interdependency- the way living and non-living things interact within an ecosystem. I front loaded the kids with a lot of information on the first day, using these notes from Teachers Pay Teachers. They spent two days working on their mobiles, and we spent Friday doing a gallery walk of the 6 different ecosystem presentations.
For the mobiles, students were divided into six different groups: wetlands, arctic tundra, rainforest, desert, oceanic, and grasslands. Each group was responsible for making a hanging mobile representing their ecosystem. The mobile needed to contain 3 interactions between living things, 3 interactions between living and non living things, a food chain highlighting the transfer of energy between living things, 2 specific adaptations living things have, and 1 negative way humans can impact the specific ecosystem. When completed, the mobiles looked like this:
What I loved most about this project is the way we did our gallery walk. All of the projects were hung up around the room, and half of the students from each group stayed at their project, while the other half of their group rotated around the room, asking other groups questions about their projects. Students were free to ask any questions they wished, but they were each given a set of about 25 questions on a binder ring. These questions ranged from “Can you tell me about your food chain?” to, “If you could tweet about your ecosystem in 120 characters, what would you say?” These question cards aided in student participation and engagement, and also provided great sentence stems and conversation starters for ELLs, or students less willing to participate.
As my CT and I watched students asking and answering questions, we were able to observe the incredible amount of student involvement surrounding us. Every student was involved and interacting with projects, without any need for teacher direction. They only time I needed to step in was when it was time for students to switch roles, rotating asking v. answering questions. The activity was incredibly student centered, and they had a lot of fun participating, while engaging in critical thinking and practicing skills learned all at the same time.
I am very proud with the way these question cards turned out, and am going to make sets of more versatile, less specific questions that could be used for any gallery walk of projects in the future.