Today we started to dig into the connections between our planet’s resources and our consumption patterns. We watched a bit of a documentary called “Earth: The Operator’s Manual”, specifically the part about how fossil fuels are formed. The students created a flow map of the process by watching the clip three times: once for what materials go into creating fossil fuels; once for how much time is involved; and once to track where the energy comes from and goes to. They learned that fossil fuels take hundreds of millions of years to form, but we are burning them all up in the course of a few hundred.
We also began to examine the life-cycle of one of their favorite products, especially considering how much energy goes into each step of the cycle. They want to go to a factory to see how energy is used. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself! Now I just need to find a company in the area willing to let 20 5th graders on their factory floor….
It may be reaching, but tomorrow I am going to help the students understand how governance shifts based on consumption patterns. Hm. Writing it out like that makes it seem even more insane, but in a place like New Mexico, the shifts are so easily recognized. I can resist!
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I begin again. Last year, fresh with the blush of a new teacher, I dove in to teaching and blogging, and hit my head squarely on the side of the pool of: Too much, too fast.
This year I’m learning something important: the practice of the reflective teacher. I have become aware of the term. I hope to gradually become one. Right now, I am simply beginning reflective practice. It is a natural part of the planning process in the IB PYP curriculum model, so it seems natural to do some reflecting publicly, to foster conversation that might help practitioners. So…without further ado, I begin again.
I am working with my students on an economics unit focused on how consumption patterns influence supply and demand. We’re looking at favorite product life-cycles, how fossil fuels are formed and used, and how their burning affects our planet. I want to go deeper, to have them begin to develop their reading skills by digging into real-life texts on the environment, to develop their science skills by looking at local water quality, and make connections to our consumption patterns. They will develop their math skills by collecting and interpreting measurements, by starting “bogus bucks” bank accounts through which they are “paid” for their work of learning, and from which they must “pay” for their consumption of school resources, plus a bit of business that seems to have spontaneously developed in the form of: “Hey, how many bogus bucks is that packet of bracelet rubber bands worth to you?”. Apparently, B$150 isn’t too much to some students. I hope they can pay their “rent”.
This is a bit overwhelming. I am looking for resources to share, ideas for how to assess understanding, and most of all a sense that I am not insane trying to tie all this together.
Thoughts? Ideas? Resources? Bring `em on. I’ll share if you will…
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