A fun twist happened in biology class a few weeks ago. We decided to change the culminating event of our math and science (Algebra and Biology) collaborative unit. Instead of a town hall, we asked student groups to determine the health of the ecosystem of our coastline by focusing on one organism in the ecosystem. There are new regulations off our coastline intended to reduce the likelihood of whale entanglement in fishing gear. The premise of this project was to determine the current health of the ecosystem in order to have a baseline. This baseline could be useful in the future to determine if the new regulations had an impact beyond reducing entanglements.
The day after we introduced this project, I saw a segment on the news that I had to share with the students. Our coastline is the potential new home for a floating wind farm! In the news segment, a biologist talked about the importance of understanding how this new wind farm might impact the ecosystem. She discussed the need to look at lots of different organisms to get a sense of ecosystem implications.
I was so excited! This news was absolutely in line with our new culminating event and was current! It was literally less than 24 hours old! I showed the students in class and we discussed the need for the ecosystem survey they were working on to help inform us in the future about changes. Now there were two reasons this project became important.
I find joy in creating learning opportunities for my students. When those opportunities connect directly to their world (place and time), I am thrilled! It takes more work to do this and is exhausting, but it is worth it. I encourage you to take one activity, assessment, unit, or culminating event and rework it to connect to here and now. Eventually the students will appreciate it 😉