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Jefferson 5th Graders Explore Rainforest Through Google Expedition

“We have two more things we are going to look at, buttress roots are the first one. Is everyone ok? Let me guide you to the next one,” said Jefferson Middle School fifth grade teacher Gina Hess. “Buttress roots, look at the shallow roots. See how shallow they are. Have you noticed there isn’t much light on the ground.”

The fifth graders were visiting the rainforest – not in real life, but through a Google Expedition run by Mrs. Hess. Students are studying the rainforest for an English Language Arts unit. They read the book, "The Most Beautiful Roof in the World” about the rainforest canopy by researcher Meg Lowman.  To enhance their experience, students were able to take a virtual tour to a rainforest, much like where Ms. Lowman works.

“The technology instantly put students in the shoes of Meg Lowman and her work in the rainforest,” said Mrs. Hess. “This was the student’s first expedition of the school year. They loved the app and found it very engaging.  I think it is extremely important to make activities enriching and engaging for students. Technology like Google Expedition is one of the best way to enhance the text students read.”

Before reading the book, students explored the question: “What is unique about living things in the rainforest?” They built background knowledge about unique living things in the rainforests and the scientists that study them. Students will also explore various forms of informational text as ways to communicate about rainforest scientists’ research. During the reading of the “The Most Beautiful Roof in the World,” they took an in-depth view of how Ms. Lowman became interested in her chosen career, created new ways to study the natural world, and communicate her findings to others. After the virtual field trip, students will focus on the literacy skills that scientists need to use in order to take field notes, deepen their knowledge through research, and communicate information in writing. Students will learn how to write field notes like a scientist, by observing carefully and writing precisely about their local natural environment. Then, they will work within expert groups to conduct research on the insects found in the rainforest, taking notes from print and digital sources.