Through Ecosystem Observer, students will be able to...
- Make detailed observations of the natural world
- Develop background knowledge that is relevant to their observations
- Develop a tentative explanation or define a question related to an observation that is rooted in background knowledge
- Communicate their findings
11 to 15 class periods
Ecosystem Observer supports students in making detailed observations that may be submitted as Nature Notes. You can find great examples of Nature Notes generated using this resource in the current volume of Findings from the Field.
Ecosystem Observer was designed at the start of the 20-21 school year. Check out the Nature Note module for more detailed lessons and rubrics designed for facilitated in-person instruction.
Step 1: Recognize your Ecosystem Observer Strengths
This step is designed to introduce students to the idea of scientific observation and get them to think about what they bring to their role as an ecosystem observer.
Step 2: Find an Observation Spot
In this step, students get outside, begin to connect to their local environment, and use their senses to look closely.
Step 3: Choose a Topic for Further Investigation
Students choose local ecology topics, drawing from their observations and interests.
Step 4: Build Background Knowledge
Students build background knowledge related to their chosen topic that will give context to their observations and help focus their attention for future field site visits.
Step 5: Make your Observation Plan
Based on what they have learned and the observing students have already done, students will develop a plan for getting out and collecting their ecosystem observations.
Step 6: Collect your Observations
Students get out to those observation spots, look closely, and record what they notice. Ideally, they will be able to conduct more than one observation.
Step 7: Put it All Together
In Step 7, students pull together their observations and background knowledge, sharing how relevant background knowledge helps them come up with possible explanations and pose questions about what they observed.
Step 8: Choose how to share your observations
Students choose how they will communicate their findings, choosing from a variety of formats to create their "Nature Note". Written Nature Notes may be submitted to Findings from the Field.
Step 9: Organize your Thinking
Step 9 leads students through planning how they will communicate their detailed observations in their Nature Note, regardless of the format they choose, making sure that students are connecting what they noticed to background knowledge to support their questions or ideas.
Step 10: Create your Nature Note
Students develop their Nature Note, using a checklist with the essential elements to guide them. This checklist corresponds to the rubric used for submissions to Findings from the Field.
Step 11: Review your Nature Note
Students use the checklist from Step 10 to review their own or a peer's work and then revise based on the feedback.
Step 12: Share your Work and Next Steps
Choose how students will communicate their observations and ideas with an authentic audience. Suggestions for this include and are not limited to submitting Nature Notes to Findings from the Field.