Introduction to ‘Beyond the Classroom Aquarium’


Including both:

  • an account of how & why I developed this yearlong project based, curricular sequence of authentic STEM-Oriented and aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities that students love. And
  • a few links to posts that provide additional information about the curriculum, author, professional development efforts & the CreateSpace eStore book site.

I one day found myself staring into an aquarium that was teeming with life, wondering if my desire to further my student’s engagement and learning might be effectively promoted through involvement in processes of designing (and assembling & operating) aquatic ecosystems, aquatic ecosystem components, and essential ancillary lab-related equipment. A list (of never done-experienced-shared aquatic ecosystem related activities and materials) “appeared” almost instantly. As it turns out, the origination of this vision was the easy bit!

Friends, colleagues, and family will affirm that my efforts to fit the aquatic ecosystem themed projects in “the list” into a well-crafted and naturally unfolding curricular sequence became a long term & painstaking labor of love (and frugality); created by an adventurous aquatic ecosystem minded STEAM/STEM educator (me) for like-minded fellow educators and their students. Issues of frugality were considered from every perspective in view of the idea this curriculum is worth doing. Thus multiple strategies for acquiring material, supplies and appropriate assistance are woven into each project.

Many people witnessed my ongoing efforts to repeatedly tweak and re-tweak the progression of projects – to streamline the curricular flow – in order to formulate a sleek curricular design that would enable educators/students to fully (and enthusiastically) participate in this program’s entire sequence of projects – within one standard school year. This task challenged me deeply. It took twenty-three years of obsessive thought (& a tireless review of resources) related to my educational design… to realistically fit my aquatic ecosystem based vision into the full-fledged – yearlong – STEAM-Oriented & project based curriculum. The book, Beyond the Classroom Aquarium is the end result of this vision.

As this curricular vision first took shape in my mind I realized “We” (students & I) had neither ever (from the ground up…) designed, assembled nor operated an authentic aquatic ecosystem simulation/model (excepting dioramas & many other forms of extremely inexpensive yet seemingly way over-used “make believe” and artificial “let’s pretend” kinds of educational “activities”)! In my experience, working with thousands of students and observing thousands more, it has often seemed – especially among our many “pedagogically innocent” learners, as they participate in their day-in & day-out learning activities and lessons – “Curriculum” all too commonly serves to promote engagement with distant and randomly fragmented sequences of learning activities with, at best, narrowly connected strands of continuity and authenticity. Some might say many students participating in various in-congruent sequences of learning activities are being guided down conveniently “softer & easier” paths (yet at whose ultimate convenience?).

Further, I realized I did not know of one colleague who had ever guided his/her students through such visionary curricular sequences of ‘Design and Beyond’ processes. We’d never… fabricated components of aquatic ecosystems rather than purchasing “store-bought” ones. We never dreamed of the countless ways that technologies could be woven into day-to-day classroom activities (via aquatic ecosystems). As it took shape, I continued to wonder …how financially prohibitive (not to mention time required) it might be? What sacrifices might need to be made? What learning goals/standards might be included? How might all the disparate resources and knowledge I’d need to make this vision a reality be consolidated? AND, Aside from talking about “poop (from organisms in the systems),” what else might my students find engaging in this curricular sequence of aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities?

I pondered these questions through years of direct work with students and multiple years of participation in aquatic-ecosystem-related professional development workshops. I believe many of my STEM/STEAM colleagues will find the curricular sequence of 14 project based STEM-Oriented aquatic ecosystem themed learning activities contained in the book: Beyond the Classroom Aquarium address these questions while pointing out ways to implement such projects in their own settings with their own students, and infuse each activity with the most recent next generation science, common core, engineering & technology standards.

On October 5th, 2016 I also activated a social media fundraising campaign to enable me to share strategies for implementing Beyond the Classroom Aquarium learning activities with fellow educators in week long professional development workshops. The campaign was offered through Indiegogo.com. Potential donors who might have been interested in donating twenty dollars – or more – to this campaign were invited to view my Indiegogo crowdfunding site by using the link given here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/beyond-the-classroom-aquarium-educator-pd-workshop#/ .

Although this fundraising campaign has now expired – without raising it’s stated financial goal, I believe as strongly in this curricular vision today as ever and still imagine a day when I may be able to take part in seeing it fully implemented and shared with students and peers. The plethora of equipment and materials I own will be sufficient to get a Beyond the Classroom Aquarium school year off to a strong start for some like-minded local educator who might like me to collaborate with him/her. I am making ongoing efforts to offer collaborative “outreach.”

I hope you now have a better understanding of How & Why I Developed A Yearlong Project Based, STEM-Oriented and Aquatic Ecosystem Themed Curricular Sequence of Authentic Learning Activities that Students Could Love. Students love becoming informed and experienced designers, co-creators and stewards of authentic aquatic ecosystems – in the classroom and beyond.

For MUCH more information (about the curriculum, the projects, and me), please follow this Beyond the Classroom Aquarium page link (and the additional posts embedded in it). And as always, your comments/input about #BtheCA content, availability, and price are always welcome 🙂 or visit this Beyond the Classroom Aquarium CreateSpace eStore Link . Though the opportunity to publicly purchase a copy of #BtheCA from the eStore link posted above was”retired” on Dec. 31, 2016, the eStore link remains active for your Preview and Comment.

Sharing A fun link here:  http://unctv.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ates12.pd.grbeyond/moving-beyond-the-classroom/

AND

an inspirational poem by Suzy Sutton about “Reaching Beyond”

 

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4 Responses to “Introduction to ‘Beyond the Classroom Aquarium’”

  1. Oscar Hernandez September 28, 2017 at 3:51 PM #

    How do I contact the author?

    Like

  2. petrel41 September 12, 2017 at 4:32 PM #

    Congratulations!

    I have nominated your blog for the Real Neat Blog Award.

    More about this nomination is at

    https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/real-neat-blog-award-congratulations-to-14-nominees/

    Like

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