Students were engaged with the guiding question, “Where are all our frogs?”. Our local frog species have been declining due to an influx of poisonous cane toads. After being introduced into Australia, cane toads had no natural predators and are now a major threat to native animals. Students were engaged in a topic that is a real environmental issue within our community.
The initial work and research centered on the study of Australian frogs. The students learned research skills and strategies required to read non-fiction texts, participated in group research, and wrote information reports. They discovered that many of the species that live in the Tweed and Gold Coast areas have become threatened. They wanted to know why and what we could do to help them survive.
To deepen their understanding, students worked with a partner to research an endangered frog. They used non-fiction texts, videos, and websites to gather information. With support from a local frog specialist, they became experts on their chosen frog species. Students wrote information reports and devised a list of tips to help save our native frogs. They also expanded their knowledge of local indigenous culture by exploring the traditional symbols local Aboriginals use to share their history and stories.
Students wrote their own storylines about frogs using these traditional symbols. They created multiple drafts and participated in multiple rounds of critique to produce a high-quality piece of work, which collaboratively became a book. Copies of the book, Our Local Endangered Frogs were donated to local libraries and sold to family and friends to help raise awareness of the plight of our frogs. The students decided to donate the proceeds of the sales to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to assist in breeding the critically endangered Kroombit Tinker frog. Through their work, our students have become advocates for our endangered
We Asked the Teacher
1. What was compelling for your students about this?
The projects’ guiding question, ‘Where are all our frogs?’ was derived from an observation in our local area. The students were engaged in a topic that they believed was a real environmental issue within their community. They were compelled to learn about, inform the public and raise money to help solve a real-world issue. They were passionate about becoming advocates for endangered wildlife and wanted to write a book to share their information with others.
The students decided to host a market stall to help raise awareness and funds for the local endangered frogs. They knew there was a need to educate the public on the threats to our local frogs and raise money for conservation projects. The work the students were doing at school was going to have a real impact on an issue they cared about.
2. What were the challenges?
Some of the main challenges we faced throughout this project were related to research and building a culture of revising with my students. During our research, we were unable to find answers to many of the students’ questions regarding endangered frogs. A local frog expert was contacted and visited us to answer these questions and assist in the research.
Students also had to embrace a culture of redrafting their work. After drafting and reflecting on their work, they were able to realize that some important information was still missing, and they needed to complete further research.
3. What makes this particular piece a model for other students?
The book, ‘Our Local Endangered Frogs’ is an example of the excellent craftsmanship Grade 2 students can produce when they see the value in their work. It is the result of multiple drafts, with careful attention to detail and addresses an authentic need within our community.
4. What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?
My advice is to connect with an expert. It can be difficult to find information regarding a particular species of endangered animal. Our expert helped us find the answers to questions the students were unable to answer throughout their research and assisted in editing our book.
How This Project Can Be Useful
- An excellent example of how outside experts can both assist and inspire
- Shows the results of multiple drafts and how persistence pays off in quality
- Shows how a project evolves from an authentic question