Reflection: Shared Expectations Biodiversity Survey part 4: Managing a Long Term Project - Section 4: Adding Observations


As I mentioned in the introduction to this lesson, I hadn't originally planned on having this "check in" lesson.  I wanted to believe that simply by introducing the project and taking the students outside to make some observations, that their enthusiasm for the iNaturalist platform and the fun of a Pokemon style project would keep them motivated to succeed, and I'd just have to sit back and watch all the observations pour in. 

Well, that wasn't the case. Why?

It's easy as a teacher to get so wrapped up in the excitement of creating a project that we take for granted that our students are equally enthused.  Without passing any judgement about their priorities, it's important to remember that our students are teenagers, and even if school is priority number one, they have several other classes and projects vying for their academic attention, especially at the end of the year.

So even though it threw off my planning somewhat (keep in mind that this 5 lesson sequence covers about the last month and a half of my course, and it ran concurrently with the end of this biodiversity unit and the final unit on energy resources), it was ultimately not "back tracking", and certainly not a waste of time.  By going back and pointing out who was doing well, by taking the time to personally engage students that had fallen behind for one reason or another, I helped all students to do better on this project, and ultimately, made our end product more useful to the community of hobbyists and professional researchers that use iNaturalist.

The proof is in the pudding: we had just 3 observations after two weeks of the project, but by the end of the project 4 weeks later, we had 50 times that many observations!  Good practices that were introduced in the first three lessons but reemphasized in this lesson were still in use by the end of the project 4 weeks later.

If we want our work as educators to be successful for as many students as possible, sometimes it's absolutely necessary to stop the train, make sure everyone's on the same page, and in doing so, get back on track even stronger than before.


  Isn't this a waste of valuable class time?
  Shared Expectations: Isn't this review a waste of valuable class time?
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Biodiversity Survey part 4: Managing a Long Term Project

Unit 6: Biodiversity
Lesson 6 of 9

Objective: Students will ensure that the work they are doing on the biodiversity project is being recorded appropriately and that they are following the iNaturalist community standards when posting observations.

Big Idea: A long term project requires reminders, check ins, and follow through to keep enthusiasm and effort from waning.

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