Pam Snyder is a recently retired teacher from Columbus City Schools with over 35 years of classroom experience. She served the district in many capacities, including as a mentor teacher in …
Real-world value is my passion as a teacher. I try to draw from multiple professions for inspiration. I love having kids do infographics, because it challenges them to bring an artistic and editorial eye to digesting science content. I enjoy organizing researched debates with my students, so they can practice voicing opinions and having healthy conflict. Drawing from multiple media sources is also a strategy I use. Getting to hear, see and read about a topic help builds a “big picture” view for students.
One of my favorite projects was built around the recent documentary “Blackfish”. We viewed the movie during our ecosystems unit. We researched the treatment of animals in institutions like SeaWorld, and compared them to wild game reserves, zoos and other animal shelters. We had debates, wrote opinion statements (supported by their research), and crafted a few guidelines for building acceptable habitats for wild animals. Many students assumed captivity was “bad” after viewing the movie. Further research (and a guest speaker who volunteered at the Cleveland Zoo), influenced several students to change their position to a more moderate, conditional stance on animals in captivity. In the context of this unit, we also learned traditional vocabulary and concepts associated with ecosystems (biotic and abiotic factors, population density, community, carrying capacity, etc.). With real-world application, the unit took on a life of its own. For me, this is what it’s all about: seeing students capitalize on their own gifts and interests while applying science concepts.
I am a city girl. I love teaching city kids. I confess, I did not use much agriculture to teach until I designed a “Soy Beans and World Hunger” lesson for GrowNextGen. The lesson requires students to investigate soy products to see how they can help solve world hunger. Then, they must create an infographic advertisement informing the public. The Revolution Hunger website got me hooked! Written to students, the site invites them to be agents of change in fighting world hunger. While researching hunger, and its’ effect on actual people, I could not help but feel personally connected to the topic. I knew students would feel the same. In light of the issue, soy products had genuine meaning and interest for me. My urban teenagers know almost nothing about this extremely global enterprise, and they should. I am now officially “jazzed” about writing some lessons that include elements of modern agriculture.