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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reflections on Habitats Virtual Field Trip

Habitats Virtual Field Trip

My Google Earth Habitat Virtual Field Trip is now complete.  When planning this field trip I had a few goals in mind.  One was to create a trip that would bring my students to interesting places and have plenty of information to accompany their placemarks.  Another goal was for the trip to be simple for two reasons.  One is that it was my first attempt at making a virtual field trip and the second is that it would most likely be the first time my second graders would take a virtual field trip.  For these reasons, simple seems better for now.  A third goal of mine was to create a field trip that I could use next year to tie into a theme of study that would fit our state standards and my plan for next year’s themes.  So that is how habitats was chosen.  The final goal that I had was to incorporate Howard Gardner’s wisdom of creating an activity that would encourage my students to use their respectful and ethical minds.  Here are my thoughts on how they might be able to do this.

Howard Gardner defines the respectful mind as, “Responding sympathetically and constructively to differences among individuals and among groups;  seeking to understand and work with those who are different;  extending beyond mere tolerance and political correctness.”  (Ch. 7, Five Minds of the Future).  He defines the ethical mind as, “Abstracting crucial features of one’s role at work and one’s role as a citizen and acting consistently with those conceptualizaions;  striving toward good work and good citizenship.” (Ch. 7)

So here is how I connect his ideas of the respectful and ethical mind to the study of habitats.  If students are to be able to be sympathetic towards members of the various habitats on earth, and understand that their lives are dependent on the success of the natural symbiotic relationships of plants and animals and their environment, then the students must understand what these different environments are and the characteristics of them that make them suitable homes for their inhabitants.  Furthermore, if students are to become citizens, who strive to do what is right, to help keep animals and plants in existence and out of danger of extinction, then they must understand which plants and animals live in the different habitats and what human and natural dangers are threatening such plants and animals.

This virtual field trip offers students information that will show them where these habitats are in the United States, the conditions and characteristics of each, and the types of life forms that are both thriving in them and are endangered in them.  This trip is a starting point for the study of habitats.  It will be used to introduce the students to habitats and it will be revised with additions and deletions as needed after it is initially used.  My goal is for my students to begin their study of habitats with this trip and to develop the respectful and ethical minds needed to protect the lifeforms on our planet.  

Gardner, Howard. (2007 kindle edition). Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press, Boston, MA.

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