Middle School: Disruptions in Ecosystems

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The unit was developed as part of a collaborative project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop and evaluate a model instructional unit and professional development program and conduct research on teacher learning. The project partners are the American Museum of Natural History (lead partner, also leading the professional development), The Lawrence Hall of Science's SEPUP Program (instructional materials lead), and the University of Connecticut (research). The unit has undergone two rounds of classroom field-testing and expert review. It is currently undergoing a third field-test during the 2017­–2018 school year. Based on this field-test and feedback from the EQuIP review, the unit will be revised and resubmitted for a final review in 2018. 

Score: 7

Science Discipline: Life Science

Length: Unit

Year Reviewed: 2017

This middle school unit was designed to support the middle school NGSS related to Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics integrated with elements of related Earth science NGSS (Human Impact). The unit includes five chapters, each focused on a specific phenomenon related to ecosystem disruption, including questions around the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and the invasion of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. © Regents of the University of California

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I have pretty much finished using chapters 1 and 2 with my urban Phoenix 10th-grade biology students. They are often not familiar with, interested in, or engaged with the ecology scenarios I have shared with them in the past. They have been engaged and interested in these materials. Only two of my 150 students have been to Yellowstone. I use this to introduce all of my students to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at the same time, putting all of my students on equal footing. Yellowstone National Park, among other sources, has a plethora of resources to share with our students and draw them in. The arrangement of concepts in chapters 1 and 2 confused me at first. As I assimilated how the materials are arranged, they make good sense. It works for my students.
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I have a number of suggestions beginning with the choices of organisms in the food chain. I lived and worked in the GYE for nine years. There are more realistic and useful food chains you could introduce and utilize. Are you interested? I have many ideas.