Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Worlds Around Us: an Integrated - Blended Curriculum for Grades 3 through 6

Integrated curriculums have become a sort of holy grail in education.  Books that are written for enjoyment typically do not have enough science in them to base a curriculum on. Books that are written specifically to contain that science often fail to engage young readers because the "teaching" is too evident. The key to a successful integrated educational experience is an engaging read combined with enough science to springboard the discussion in a science classroom.
Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus was written with this goal in mind. First of all, it is a fun, engaging read for children. They read it because it is exciting, not because it's required reading. Most classrooms read it just for the language arts. It is a great vocabulary builder.
That being said, there are a lot of science concepts woven throughout the novel that can easily be brought into the science classroom.
That is why I wrote Worlds Around Us by partnering with teachers and scientists from around the country. This blended curriculum contains 84 pages of vocabulary, quiz suggestions, and language arts lessons. In addition, there are science activities, diagrams, and videos. There are lessons on Linnaean Classification, sedimentary geology, aquifers, hurricanes, and wildlife corridors. There are activities on how to find your own tardigrade or do your own condensation experiment, and much more. Organized by chapter-sections, all activities are coded with Common Core Standards and Next Generation Standards.

In addition, I've teamed up with the world-famous Archbold Biological Station to integrate their Florida scrub curriculum, Discovering the Florida Scrub, into Worlds Around Us. This special pathway through Discovering the Florida Scrub takes advantage of scrub topics as they are brought up in Olivia Brophie.
I have personally witnessed how powerful the blended approach can be with young readers. Their enthusiasm for the characters and creatures in Olivia Brophie easily transfers to learning the real science. So many children have discovered the amazing world of microscopic life because of the giant tardigrades in Olivia Brophie.
Worlds Around Us is flexible and easy to adapt to your classroom and your personal teaching style.
Worlds Around Us is free and available for download immediately. No registration necessary. Completely 100% free! I do like feedback though. Please let me know when you use Worlds Around Us in your classroom and how it worked for you.

Download page for Worlds Around Us

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ivory Marginated Ruteline (Anomala marginata)

I love ruteline beetles and this is one of Florida's native rutelines. They are easy to mistake for a june bug if you aren't looking closely. Rutelines play a cool role in the sequel to Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus. This one was attracted to a black light after a rain storm, along with about 100 others. It must be good luck of some kind to be surrounded by 100 rutelines.

The ivory edge to the thorax and the green sheen are the keys to identifying Anomala marginata

Anomala marginata

Ox Beetles (Strategus antaeus) - the impressive major male

You may remember my post on raising Ox Beetles. I thought I'd share some nice photos of a major male. The white grains that look like sugar are actually quartzite sand grains that are common in Florida.

Love that big black orb for an eye and look at that sunburst of hair at the base of the antenna



Robber Fly!

Here is a nice robber fly that posed for me on a palmetto frond. These flies are rugged predators and if you watch one for a few minutes, you'll see it ambush a passing insect with ruthless efficiency. They also come in a lot of interesting shapes and coloration. Some look like wasps, bumblebees, or jumping spiders.

Look at that fierce mouth. I'm glad I'm not on the menu.