Information literacy standards: STANDARD 1: The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.; STANDARD 2: The student who information literate evaluates information critically and competently.; STANDARD 3: The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively.; STANDARD 8: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and practices ethical behavior in regard to information and information technology.; STANDARD 9: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and participates effectively in groups to pursue and generate information.
Content standards: PSSA Assessment Anchors: Biological sciences S8.B.3.1 : Explain the relationships among and between organisms in different ecosystems and their abiotic and biotic components.
Technology Standards: Empowered learner (1c), Digital Citizen (2b), Knowledge Constructor (3a), Innovative Designer (4b)
Student Outcome Goals: Explain the relationships among and between organisms in different ecosystems and their abiotic and biotic components.
Explain the flow of energy through an ecosystem.
Explain relationships among organisms (e.g., producers/consumers, predator/prey) in an ecosystem.
Engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology.
Plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information.
Select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process.
Evaluate posted projects giving appropriate feedback.
Activities: Students will research given scientific names on a mobile device to identify the organism, as well as, where it lives, what it eats, and what eats it. Each year, students are really curious as to what organism they have been assigned and are typically motivated to find out what it is since they don't recognize the scientific name. I would typically use school laptops to do this assignment, but as the laptops became outdated I have had students do their research in our school's highly sought after writing lab or at home. Using mobile devices instead will make the research portion much easier.
Students will then collaborate in a small group and decide what ecosystem all the organisms are found in and choose additional organisms based on research that can be included in your food web as predators or prey. Students always have a tough time synthesizing the researched information to come up with more organisms that would be appropriate for the food web. Its a puzzle that they eventually put together.
They will find and download pictures (with Creative Commons license) of all organisms and create a food web diagram with all the pictures of organisms using the tool Creately. We would usually put the food web on a poster and use printed pictures. Sometimes the pictures they print are too big and then they don't have enough room for their arrows. After I looked at the Creately tool, I found it to be perfect in generating a food web diagram. They can easily adjust the size of the pictures and move them around to an appropriate spot. The arrows are very accommodating too as they can be angled, straight, or curved. The tool also allows for text so the the pictures can be labeled. The final project can also be exported, in this case, to a blog.
Students will export final project to the class blog and constructively critique other posted projects. Having the students critique the other diagrams will give them time to reflect on the assignment and evaluate what makes the diagram accurate.