How can we use our words to help save wildlife?
For this English and Science project, students at School 21 created a campaign to advise and instruct local residents on how to make adaptations in their gardens to address the Newham Biodiversity Action Plan and encourage endangered and protected species to live in Stratford. They started by examining the Biodiversity Action Plan, a government document, and picking out 7 animals that are targeted for reintroduction to Newham’s parks and gardens. Early in the project, students also explored a range of non fiction texts and developed their use of connectives, complex sentences and modal verbs. Meanwhile, they also learnt about adaptation, classification and habitats. Students used this learning to create a pack of informative literature (leaflets, how-to guides and a covering letter) to give to locals so that they could make positive changes to their gardens. The group exhibited their findings in a presentation and discussion with local residents at the East Village in the Olympic Park and gave out 150 copies of the packs.
“If our writing is impressive enough, we will be able to actually help wildlife and persuade people to improve habitats for the wildlife.”
We planned this project with a particular focus on the authenticity of audience and exhibition, and feel that this was a clear driving force in the motivation of students to work on non-fiction writing skills. The chance to impact on the wider community surrounding our school gave the group a clear and aspirational focus and provided a sense of common goal for the students. Using a tricky, scientific government document as our grounding text was highly challenging for students but we feel also increased the authentic nature of the project. The exhibition in the Olympic Park was a particular high point in the project. It gave students a chance to share their knowledge and was a great platform for practicing their oracy skills. One of the things that we feel really helped our approach to this cross-curricular project was our weekly planning and reflection meeting, which we found extremely beneficial in ensuring timely and personalized intervention for individuals and groups within the class.
Week 1 :
Introduction to the project,
Review model and trip to explore local area and current wildlife situation.
Letter to residents and grounding text (GT)
Critique and Drafting of information leaflets
Trip to farm
Expert scientist critique on leaflets
Critique and redraft on ‘How-to’ instructions. Building day
‘Cold Assessment’ and GT
Exhibition presentation critique