Thursday, June 14, 2012

Endangered Species: The Museum Open House

For those of you have been following post after post about the Endangered Species project, I apologize for the scrutiny I am giving this project, but I must say that every step of this intense employment of project base learning is important and intriguing to me as I think about projects and pedagogy to come.

It is mainly those who read my posts and chat on Twitter and other venues that share my passion for moving the classroom environment forward so that all students learn in invigorating, meaningful and responsive ways. I want to become what George Courus describes his recent post, Create the Environment.  Couros states that "A great educator creates the environment where students can motivate themselves."

Now that the reading, research, multimedia composition, illustration and exhibit creation are complete. It is time to celebrate. Early this morning, family members and teachers will join us to view the work at individual exhibits and later we'll gather together to watch the student-created Endangered Species Youtube Playlist.

What's important today is the children.  It is important that all of our visitors take the time to notice the work and care students have employed to complete each project and learn. It is also important that children realize our Museum was created from their extraordinary creativity, collaboration, critical thinking skills and communication.  Without their effective effort, we would not have this Museum and the new knowledge and skills we gained.  It was a community effort.

At the presentation portion of the morning, I'll remind family members and visiting teachers of the many, many steps students employed to complete this project.  I'll share wise words from my PLN in this short speech:

Dr. Judy Willis, a neuroscientist and classroom teacher, wrote, “The lives our students will live and the jobs for which they'll compete will not be about answering questions correctly, but about how they use knowledge and respond to changes.” The endangered species project gives students the chance to look for, organize and make meaning of multiple knowledge sources. It also provides students with a glimpse of our changing world, and their role and potential with respect to that change. The project content is real world, and the avenues we used to learn and communicate were varied and timely.

As I walked the project path with these students over the past six weeks, I was cognizant of their interests and needs.  At all times I tried to keep the balance between their voice and interests and the project expectations and potential. Once I even had to stop the process to explain to students that sometimes my expectations can be too high, and I forget that they are fourth graders and not high school students.  In the public service films, you’ll notice that students used their creativity in many ways--some added humor, others included dance and still more created music and added it to their films. As film editor, it was important to me that each film was accurate and polished, yet I tried to retain students' voice, humor, outlook, exploration and heart.

I invite you to relax and view the fourth graders’ public service films. I hope you’ll take away inspiration to act in one new way to protect the many, wonderful species on our planet that are endangered.

The movie playlist will begin with a summary of the project dimensions, then we’ll move quickly to students’ original films.  Enjoy!

Now it's time for the event, I'll add some photos and notes once it is complete. Thanks for your support throughout this project journey.


  • The Museum went well; the students were wonderful!
  • I wish I recognized visiting administrators and teachers who helped with the project. I'll do that next year.
  • The students were proud. They strengthened scholastic skills, concept and knowledge with an invigorating and meaningful project.
  • I want to think more about the collaborative aspects of this project next year.
  • We will write another grant for a zoo-school partnership.  My team and I will research this over the summer months. 
  • I'm wondering if we can develop the musical aspect of the film by adding students' music from their orchestra and band concerts, or using traditional music from the countries an animal lives in.  One child did this and it was very effective.