Saturday, July 24, 2010

Student Action

Last night I was reading an article on the National Geographic, July 2000 issue.The cane toads were introduced from Hawai to combat cane beetles. But this exotic species played havoc with the ecosystem. Fascinating read and a superb study for a class inquiring about food chains.

However, one article struck me as quite thought provoking. Recently, we went on a trip to Haller Park. The students learnt about how a fragile ecosystem had been rejuvenated by the introduction of the mangrove tree. This unique plant has the ability to store salt in its vacuoles. In Australia, due to the eradication of woodland by well meaning farmers, salt lakes, saline ponds, and dead fields are proof of how unforgiving Australia can be. Our students are learning to become problem solvers.In Grade 4 they learnt  about biomes, food webs and the delicate balance of nature. I recall how passionately they spoke about their ecosystems in front of a rapt audience. Wouldn't it be great if the unit never ended in year 4 but continued through out their student life? There is a section in our planner that asks teachers to record student action. Most often it's blank because we are unable to witness student action in the confines of a classroom. It usually happens when a genuine need arises. I firmly believe that the need for summative assessments should be rendered redundant. Our classroom activities should be so meaningful and purposeful that students should  want to solve real life problems without being asked to. If this happens, I foresee  my little ones growing up to be critical thinkers and environmental architects/ engineers, probably planting red mangrove trees in the salty wastelands of Australia!
Have people thought of doing that? It wasn't mentioned in the article...

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