Today is International Biodiversity Day, one of my absolute favorite topics (ask any of my students)! Teaching biology this year has not been as satisfying as I would have expected it to be, had I not been told to stick closely to the curriculum of the Science Department. Biology could have been a lot more enjoyable if we were not trying to teach every biology topic that has the potential to be on the MCAS exam. The curriculum attaches ecology to the end of the year where, in my mind, it should start off the year and be referenced as other topics are investigated. While I could not start the year with ecology, I have been integrating the ideas throughout the year, as I could.
This past week I introduced the H I P P O acronym to causes of loss of biodiversity. We thought about the procession of plants in a rocky or watery landscape, and went outside and looked at examples of succession on and near our school campus. Students then, sitting beside the pond, drew a series of pictures that illustrated succession. After creating biome travel brochures, we presented them and discussed differences between the flora and fauna of the various biomes, while sitting in a circle in the sun. The week felt like a kinder, gentler classroom.
The seniors put a trampoline on campus as a joke;
it made a great spot to sit and talk.
This week my plan is to overlap MCAS prep with more discussions of biodiversity, keystone species, and the devastation of the Gulf oil spill. The oil spill is obviously not in our ten-year-old books, nor is it on the curriculum, but it provides a good opportunity to discuss the impacts of humans on the biosphere. It is my belief that teachers and curriculums need to be flexible enough to take in current events and make connections between what is "in the book" and what is happening here and now.