They then had to design a slide deck connecting their documentary to ten essential concepts from the Ecology Unit, with a focus on human impact. Students also had to provide a brief overview of the geography (including culture and government) of the region depicted. The kids really loved the assignment, insisting next year's students complete it, “even if we’re back in the classroom.” They buzzed about the projects for a good 20 minutes of virtual class and they said, while on the one hand, it was often really sad to see how humans were impacting critical habitats and endangered species, watching the documentaries really cemented vocabulary and concepts in a way that “book reading” just doesn’t do. We also extended our discussion to ask questions about how the filmmakers chose to present their topic, the lenses they opted to use, who they included in the documentaries, and we revisited the essential idea of bias, something so important to be aware of in science, today more than ever.
Dr. Monahan says that "we might be remote learning, but our students are engaging in real and meaningful study of ecology and environmental science. While I might not choose this mode of teaching and learning, in this case, it enabled students to have more choice to explore a topic of interest to them in a region of the world that piqued their curiosity."