Project: Biome Dioramas & Presentations

Hello, division 4 families!

This week, our students began their in-depth research on biomes. What is a biome? Please watch the video below…

Biomes are regions of the world with similar climate (weather, temperature) animals and plants. There are terrestrial biomes (land) and aquatic biomes, both freshwater and marine. Watch the video to learn more specifics…

As a class, we have been learning about the plants, animal life, geographical features, and climate of the Salish Sea region. This instruction modelled for students skills and resources they can use for their own investigations into other regions.

Over the next 8 weeks, students will be supported in class to do the following:

(1.) Choose a biome of interest to research independently or in partners or small groups. (Students should choose partnerships with balanced skill sets. For example, a student who loves to research but isn’t keen on writing, should pair up with someone who is fine to be the recorder, and together they can decide how best to fairly divide up the workload.)

(2.) Synthesize learning in a Biome Booklet. These booklets contain headings and prompts to outline the categories of information that students should learn to empower themselves to be “biome experts” able to teach others and also make their own theories and draw their own scientific conclusions.

(3.) Design and build a small Biome Diorama (3D display) to use when teaching others about their region. Scroll lower in this post to see diorama examples. (Note that the scientific understanding communicated through the diorama is assessed separately from the aesthetic elements. In other words, an exceptionally beautiful display of polar bears in a hot dry desert biome could earn high marks in art, but it would not meet the criteria for scientific accuracy because polar bears don’t live in the desert.)

(4.) Use the Biome Booklet information to write a Biome Presentation Script in preparation to share learning with others. (See the template below. Each student will be given a fill-in-the-blank template like this to help ensure they cover all the required content; but, of course, students are welcome to adapt this template using their own creativity.)

What could a biome diorama look like?

What is the assignment criteria?

Below you can see photos of the project sheets I handed out to students. These sheets are in students’ Science duo-tangs. Students should continually refer to the assignment sheets throughout the project to ensure they are on track with their work. As you can see in the rubrics below, students will be earning credit in different subject areas for the different components of their project work (Science, Language Arts, and Art).

Biome Project Q. & A.

Q. Do parents/guardians need to buy anything for this project?

A. No. Dioramas can be made with recyclables and materials found outside and craft supplies at school. Animal and plant figures could be illustrations mounted on cardboard or formed from plasticine. Certainly some students will be motivated to acquire specialty items like animal figurines to realize their visions and they are welcome to do so. However, we are emphasizing the use of ingenuity and a “reduce/reuse/recycle” ethos as a part of the fun.

Q. Do parents/guardians need to do any research (or any work at all) for this project?

A. No. Life is busy! I get it! The goal is that the students are practicing their independence as researchers and creators. That said, the interest/questioning/support from a family member can act like rocket fuel to empower a child’s further learning. If your child is learning about, for example, the Arctic Tundra, and you were to join in to watch and discuss a documentary video about the region, then certainly that could be a special way to keep research continuing outside of school. Thank you for being partners in our learning. Another way family members could help is by reviewing a child’s quality of writing, especially with regards to spelling, grammar, clarity, etc. You don’t HAVE to do this—but it may be interesting to see your child’s progress in writing. I will make effort to proofread students’ projects with them eventually, but I may to get to them as quickly as they’d like and they will appreciate learning with their family members too. This project is a big and time-consuming one to support and assess for 23 students. And it does help me and your child to have your eyes on the work as well! Thank you!)

Q. When is this project due?

A. Many students will have met the project requirements and be ready to present their dioramas and biome booklets in the week of March 13-17. However, for students who need more time, it is fine for them to complete their work over spring break, aiming to present finished work April 3-6. The primary goal of this project is for students to enjoy a rich learning process—not to rush to a finish line feeling stress.

Q. If my child is nervous about some aspect of this project, is there flexibility in how learning is demonstrated?

A. Yes! Always! Please communicate with me specific concerns or questions, and we will make appropriate adaptations for students’ specific needs—while still keeping them in a comfortable zone of “just right challenge”. For example, some students who are shy about presenting in front of the class “live” may choose to create a video to play instead. Or perhaps they would like to present to just me and their trusted friends instead. Communicating learning is a key part of this process, so we will find a way for all students to share their voices.

Do you still have questions about this project?

First of all, thank you for reading all this and for engaging with your child’s learning. You are a wonderful support system for caring this much! Please check over the above assignment sheets to see if they answer your questions. If not, I invite you to post your questions below this blog post. If you’re wondering something, someone else might also benefit from hearing my response. Thank you for being a part of our journey!

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