Posts Tagged cross-curricular

STEM Tuesday — Ecosystem Recovery– Writing Tips & Resources

STEM Tuesday – Ecosystem Recovery

Visual information is everywhere we look. Think about the bright red, octagonal stop sign the traffic guard holds. Everyone knows at a glance that means stop! Or, look at a set of assembly instructions for a desk or a LEGO set. They rely on pictures and few if any words to explain how to put things together.

Graphics are an important part of informational writing. Sometimes a graphic (a picture only or a combination of words and pictures) is a better choice than words alone.

This month, we’ll focus on reading, understanding, and creating info graphics, using mentor texts from this month’s book list. As they say, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Comparisons

graphic of a burmese python's diet

First, let’s look at the Burmese Python Diet info graphic from Kate Messner’s TRACKING PYTHONS. The graphic itself uses hardly any words. Yet you can immediately see the devastating effect this non-native animal has on native species in Florida. Just look at all that it eats! That’s one hungry python.

Now imagine if Messner had chosen instead to convey this information using only words: 72 mice, 30 cotton rats, 15 rabbits, etc. It doesn’t have nearly the impact. Plus, it’s boring to read. In situations like these, graphics are a great choice.

Step-by-Step Processes

Trying to explain ocean acidification? What about how telemetry works? You can use graphics to break down complicated step-by-step processes. We have two great examples from this month’s book list: an ocean acidification graphic from Patricia Newman’s PLANET OCEAN and the telemetry graphic from Messner’s PYTHONS.

Ocean acidification graphic

This is an image of how telemetry works

Unlike the previous, wordless graphic, these use a combination of words and pictures to help us understand what’s going on.

To understand the impact of the pictures, cover them up, and look only at the words. Or you could even try typing them out into a document. How well do you understand what’s going on? Now uncover the pictures and “read” them. How do the images aid your understanding?

If you are explaining a step-by-step process in your writing, consider whether a graphic could help.

Descriptions/Labeled Diagrams

Like the step-by-step graphics above, labeled diagrams combine text and images. Let’s study this adorable otter graphic from Patricia Newman’s SEA OTTER HEROES.

This is a labeled graphic of a sea otter.What information do the text boxes provide on their own? Imagine if there was no picture of the otter at all, and this information was conveyed in writing only. Would it work? How does the image of the otter add to your understanding of how the otter is built to hunt?

If a reader isn’t familiar with an otter, it would be difficult for them to call to mind what an otter’s ears or whiskers look like. And even if they had seen an otter, their memory might be inaccurate. A picture ensures the reader gets all the information they need, both what the otter’s features look like and how they are used to hunt.

Your Turn

Now it’s time to put what we’ve learned into practice. Have students read through a piece of their own informational writing and identify an area where a graphic might help their audience gain a better understanding. It might be a comparison, a step-by-step process, a description like the otter, or something else.

Next, have them create the infographic. They can draw something by hand or use online tools like Google Slides to arrange photos, clip art, arrows, text boxes, or more.

Finally, have students inert their graphic, and then revise their text accordingly.

headshot of Kirsten W. LarsonKirsten W. Larson used to work with rocket scientists at NASA and now writes about women in science and much more. Her books include the WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane, illus. Tracy Subisak and A TRUE WONDER: The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything, illus. Katy Wu. Learn more at kirsten-w-larson.com.

Make an Impact on the World! — Book Giveaway

It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity that seems to be prevalent in the world lately.

Sometimes we may even struggle to have hope.

Hope that things will change.

Hope that we will have a better tomorrow.

Hope that we can make a difference.

 

As the saying goes in Ted Lasso, “It’s the hope that kills you.”

Of course, Ted, as the eternal optimist, rebels against that and instead focuses on one word:

                                                     BELIEVE

And yet, one wonders–How can I- one person- make a difference?

Is that even possible?

                                                                  YES! 

That idea is of my new book, Footprints Across the Planet (Reycraft Books)

Footprints Across the Planet book

 

You are already making an impact on the planet, each time you take a step.

Like you, every being on the planet leaves an imprint

with their feet

their words

their actions.

 

@Reycraft Books

@ReycraftBooks

Image from Footprints Across the Planet Book

@ReycraftBooks

 

 

Whether human or animal, voices or activity, each mark has a purpose.

To remind us of our history, give us a glimpse of our future, and maybe even inspire us to change the world.

 

@ReycraftBooks

 

 

@ReycraftBooks

 

So how can YOU do this? How can we help kids to do this?

 

Start small.

When we try to tackle a big problem, that is the best way to start.

While no one can solve all of the problems, try taking just one step.

When taken in the right direction, it makes a world of difference.

 

And understand that just like every living being on this planet, you ARE making an impact with every step you take.

 

So the next time you see a child– or an adult– overwhelmed with life, encourage them to just take one step.

Towards kindness

Towards acceptance

Toward happiness

THAT will be their impact on the world and it will be amazing!

 

Leave your mark below and tell me what type of steps you take by sharing what kind of shoes you wear and you’ll be entered to WIN a FREE copy of this book for all ages.

(I’ll go first, I wear running shoes).

 

STEM Tuesday — Ecosystem Recovery– In the Classroom

What is ecosystem recovery? The Society for Ecological Restoration defines it as “the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.” This fascinating work is happening all over the globe. Many amazing books have been written to help students grasp the enormity and importance of ecosystem recovery. These books can be used as a springboard for classroom discussions and activities.

 

Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem by Jude Isabella and Kim Smith

After a seventy year absence, gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. The absence of these apex predators directly and indirectly affected many other living things. By bringing the wolves back, the ecosystem in Yellowstone was transformed.

Classroom Activity: In classic literature and movies, wolves are often portrayed as the villains. They are evil, something to be feared. In reality,  however, they are an incredibly important species. Citing examples from this text, have students write a letter, make a poster, or create a Google Slide presentation to persuade others that wolves are actually “good.” Have students highlight the positive effects they have on their ecosystems. Then, invite other students and staff to come into the classroom and listen to your students present their work.

 

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs by Kate Messner and Matthew Forsythe

As a child, Ken Nedimyer was fascinated by the ocean and the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. But as an adult, he saw that his beloved reefs were dying. Using grafts of newly grown coral, Ken planted new coral colonies. His work has helped save and rebuild coral reefs all over the world.

Classroom Activity: Take students’ understanding to the next level by bringing them on a virtual field trip to the Dominican Republic. They will learn more about coral reefs and what scientists are doing to protect them. Then, have students create their own coral reefs using clay and paint. Click here for detailed directions.

 

Rise of the Lioness: Restoring a Habitat and its Pride on the Liuwa Plains by Bradley Hague

This beautiful book is both the story of Lady, the last lioness in the Liuwa Plains after the collapse of its ecosystem, and the story of what scientists did to restore that ecosystem.

Classroom Activity: Have students research the area where they live (or where their school is located). What plants and animals live there? What is the landscape like? How do both the geography and living organisms shape the ecosystem? Then, have students choose one local animal or plant. How would the ecosystem change if that animal or plant was removed? What effect would that have on the other living things? On the landscape? Would that effect be immediate or gradual?

 

 

Hopefully, these books and activities will help students think critically about the relationships between all living species and how the absence or introduction of one can have a big impact.

 

***************************************************************************************************************

Jenna Grodziki

 

Jenna Grodzicki is the author of more than twenty fiction and nonfiction children’s books. Her books include Wild Style: Amazing Animal Adornments (Millbrook Press 2020) and I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures That Look Like Food (Millbrook Press 2019), the winner of the 2020 Connecticut Book Award in the Young Readers Nonfiction Category. Jenna lives near the beach with her husband and two children. In addition to being a writer, she is also a library media specialist at a K-4 school. To learn more, visit her website at www.jennagrodzicki.com.