environmental science, geography display ideas

Environment Display – Antarctica 4

Model and Diorama, originally uploaded by Mulsanne.

Today’s classroom display has an environmental theme in honour of Blog Action Day. I love this project which was done as part of the International Polar Year .

Dee, the teacher writes:

I began with a classroom standard, a KWL chart. On the KWL chart, students first listed what they knew (K) about Antarctica. Next, they listed questions they wanted (W) answered. Eventually, they would list what they learned (L) on the last part of the chart. The students asked some very good questions. Where do icebergs come from? What do blue whales eat in the waters surrounding Antarctica? How tall are emperor penguins? How did Shackleton and his men survive being trapped in ice? Why don’t fish freeze in the cold waters? What’s on the ocean floor? These were just a few of the questions they listed.

Not content with getting groups doing lots of online and book based research the children were able to follow and interact with the expedition team on their blog. The display came about because:

……we decided we wanted a visual representation to go along with our research. “Our Visit to The Ice” was created to provide us an avenue for artistic expression.

And it certainly did that! Have a look at all these detailed models:
Model of Palmer
My particular favourite is a model of Shacklton’s Endurance trapped in the ice:
Model of Endurance
But the penguins are cute too 🙂
Penguins in Formation

I think my students would agree that “Our Visit to The Ice” was the next best thing to a field trip to Antarctica.

I chose this display because I can’t think of anything better to be exploring with children than the wonders of such a unique and threatened environment. This is one of those projects that brings the unfamiliar to life for children and gives opportunities for deep learning. Those children will remember this project and I hope their generation will forgive ours for not taking better care of this fragile and special place.
Note Any earnings from today’s post will be donated to Common Ground a UK based charity. (As of 16/10/07 = $3)

Update: If any UK schools fancy doing something similar there are some UK teachers heading South in a few weeks . You can follow their exploits here and here – you can also find lots of lovely resources in their blog sidebars. If you create any displays based on the project please let me know 🙂

Plastic Bag Collage

Plastic bag collage

Originally uploaded by Vikellis

A collage designed and made by a Yr8 form, from used plastic bags. It was part of an environmental issues unit, and was displayed in the Hall, in an attempt to raise awareness of “the plastic bag problem”.

It can be hard to make meaningful displays in shared areas – especially in High School. There’s a tendency to go for the “Wow!” factor rather than to engage with the pupils. They are often seen as spaces for the school to showcase work to visitors rather than somewhere for classes to share learning and connect with the wider school community.

This one however, is a really good example of using the space to tackle a topical issue. The display itself may be a little messy but that suits the subject and it is obviously the work of the students rather than that of a TA. I think that’s one of it’s major strengths. This display sets out to engage and educate the school community rather than to impress visitors.

It’s good to see that there’s a regular flow of senior school work starting to appear in the Classroom Displays Group and I hope to feature it more regularly on the blog.

Hands Around the World 2

DSCF1475.JPG, originally uploaded by Cefn Fforest Primary Photoblog.

From Cefn Fforest Primary comes a nice idea you might want to include in next year’s planning. Hands Around the World (sadly no longer running) was a web exchange with a difference. One of the drawbacks of things like this is that children can put large amounts of effort into their thing to send off and then time pressures or postal problems mean that the other schools don’t always respond.
However this one is different. Instead the hand templates are filled in and all sent to a central clearing house. You then get back a packet with a selection of hands from all over the world.
I agree it doesn’t have the impact of something like Postcards from Virtual Friends but it’s still a lovely thing to do.

You need to register if you are going to do it though as the timing is quite tight.

Jane Goodall’s Camp 1

Jane Goodall's Camp

This diorama was produced by a girl in Grade 3 in a US elementary school. It’s featured in a new blog called Re-inventing Project Based Learning
Jane Krauss, the blog’s author has some kind words about the Classroom Displays blog and group and then asks an interesting question:

What do class displays tell us about what goes on in school, and about what we value in student work?

My own feeling is that in this case some of what we are valuing here is that ‘doll’s house’ urge that many little girls go through. There’s a delight in the miniturisation of the world combined with an almost obsessive eye for detail. I have vivid memories of just such a topic that grabbed my attention as an 8 year old. I spent a whole term obsessed with yurts, gers, and all things Mongolian. I built a tiny village of gers with my own handmade felt and willow twigs, made covers, rugs, and saddle bags and generally lost myself in the creation of my own tiny world. I’m not sure how much I actually learned that term, when others were doing maths or writing poems, I remained steadfastly perfecting my village. Long after the project was over I continued my interest and even now I still love yurts.

That was the topic work of the long ago ’60 and ’70s and it was swept away in England with the introduction of the National Curriculum. But of course it was never really totally swept away. Good teachers always look for ways of introducing themes, it’s just that now they might be called ‘cross curricular integration’. They’ve always looked for ways of providing work that caught children’s interests at a particular stage of development, that channeled children’s skills and built on their existing capabilities. It’s just that now it might be called ‘personalisation of learning’.

I recently asked a teacher who does a great deal of work that could be described as themed how she felt about the latest swing of the pendulum back towards project work. She surprised me by recoiling in horror. With all their faults there was no way she wanted to abandon the Literacy and Numeracy hours and return to “the chaos of the classroom free-for-all.”

So what does this diorama say to you?

Land Use in Year 5

Land Use, originally uploaded by LindaH.

Every year we used to invite the planning officer in to explain to Year 5 what was going to be done with the an old swimming baths site. The baths were a 30s listed building but in a bad way.
The children always asked really searching questions and never let him off lightly.
I think children really enjoy working on something real and concrete like this and it shows in the standard of work they produce.
The site has now been re-developed but sadly it didn’t incorporate any of the children’s ideas. A skating rink was usually one of the suggestions, along with play areas and wildlife gardens. What we got instead was a number of large shops, fast food outlets, car parking and some high rise flats.