Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Biome Murals

The students transferred their biome research knowledge today into creating paper-cut biome murals.  In part, we're making the murals to inform our upcoming endangered species study.

The project was much more challenging for the students than I anticipated.  Many students found the 21st century aspects of the project difficult.  The fact that students had to work together, decide on a design and create it as a group was challenging for their developing collaborative skill.

Also, application of the knowledge to design prompted critical thinking skills.  The creativity was challenging too as children tried to make trees, grass, flower, animals, vines and other natural objects with paper.  Of all the skills, communication was the the easiest as the continual use of language related to each biome was flowing.

This was a project where students were actively engaged and I was busy coaching each team.  I had to walk the "just right" expectations tight-rope as I coached as I wanted their murals to be accurate, but I had to be careful that I left room for their wonderful fourth grade creativity and voice.

We've got more work to do, and after that the murals will serve as homes for our paper sculpted endangered animals.  In the meantime, the project reminded me once again that it's important that we add rich, active, 21st century challenges to all the learning we do to broaden students' skill set, understanding, creativity and confidence.