To help educators teach science concepts to students in grades K-5, EdTechLens created Rainforest Journey, a subscription-based and standards-aligned online curriculum that uses the rainforest as a springboard for a comprehensive learning experience. Rainforest Journey uses high-resolution original photographs and videos that correlate with the written text to illustrate scientific concepts – such as adaption, the water and life cycles, predators and prey— in ways that foster curiosity about science.
“Our motivation for creating Rainforest Journey was sparked by new requirements for students to read more non-fiction,” said Ellen Senisi, the lead creator at EdTechLens. “We coupled this need with the growing popularity of mixed media and educational technology to develop a curriculum that applies life sciences concepts to the rainforest.”
Rainforest Journey contains leveled reading content, making it possible to meet the needs of various student populations, including homeschoolers, gifted and talented students, students with special needs, and non-readers.
The program offers a number of features that aid teaching and learning. Each photograph and video is identified by a short caption. Vocabulary definitions appear when the student hovers over a word with the cursor. Enrichment passages that present more in-depth concepts follow each reading passage. An audio component that accompanies all lessons is available.
Rainforest Journey also details which standards each lesson addresses--specifically Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and New York State Learning Standards. This section also includes the LexileTM and word counts for each of the reading passages to ensure that students are reading on skill level.
The program includes three different types of assessments: factual multiple-choice items, depth of knowledge questions, and open-ended discussion topics. A teacher can pick which assessments to use based on the skill level of students and/or the teacher’s emphasis on assessment. Student scores are saved in the system, making it easy to grade and gauge student understanding.
In addition to the strong pedagogical foundation for the program, the rainforest is a natural fit for presenting life sciences content. “The rainforest is perfect to study because if offers students a look at animals and plants they have never seen before, yet the scientific concepts we study are things they can see in their everyday lives,” said Senisi. “For example, even though the rainforest’s climate is different, it still goes through the same water cycle as we do. These differences are what capture students’ attention, but it is the similarities that keep students interested in science.”
To find out how your classroom can be transported to the rainforest, visit www.edtechlens.com for more information.
Founded in 2010, EdTechLens (www.edtechlens.com) uses its team’s personal experiences exploring the rainforest to create unique online curricula, incorporating theme-based learning and nonfiction into K-5 classrooms. EdTechLens lessons utilize multimedia components including photographs, video clips, original music and sound effects into its lessons to foster true student engagement.