High Country Wetland Ecology - Term 1, starting Mar 16, 2011
What you will do
Travel to the inter-montane basins of inland South Canterbury. Look for clues in the landscape that show how they were formed by glaciers. Wade across a braided river and find out how it formed and what lives there. Take a closer look at the unique tiny plants that grow beside the tarns. Get your waders on and search for freshwater fish and invertebrates in the local lakes. Search for special plants and animals that inhabit wetlands there. Learn about how the plants and animals within this ecosystem rely on each other and how they have adapted to survive in this harsh environment. Catch skinks and geckos in a fall trap. Help monitor the wrybill population that lives on Canterbury's braided rivers. Discover what is being done to counter threats to these species and their surroundings. Measure samples of water and learn how this unique environment affects water quality. Find a wetland near you and see how you can help restore this important ecosystem. Consider also participating in a related field trip - Northern Wetlands from 23-25 March.
Where you will go
In many parts of the world, wetlands have important roles but they are under threat at the same time as awareness of their importance is growing. Ō Tū Wharekai, which includes the Ashburton Lakes and upper Rangitata River, are high-country freshwater wetlands that have been crafted through the ages by glaciation. The Hakatere Conservation Park, centred on the Ashburton Lakes, was opened in October 2007. It has habitat for native fish, trout, salmon, water birds, threatened native plants and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. It is one of the three national Arawai Kakariki project sites focusing on the ecological restoration of the foremost wetland freshwater sites in New Zealand.
Main Learning Areas
Science: Nature of Science Levels 1-4, Living World Levels 2-4, Planet Earth and Beyond Levels 2-4
Key Competencies, Literacy and Numeracy
By their nature, LEARNZ field trips encourage development of the Key Competencies of Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers continually remind us of this in their evaluation comments. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.
As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?
What's in a Field Trip
Every LEARNZ field trip has its own self-contained web site, ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. The Preparation section contains a Teachers' section with curriculum integration, copies of field trip newsletters, the audioconference timetable, two sets of background pages for students at reading levels 2 years apart, online interactive and print-copy activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are daily additions such as a diary, video clips with questions (answers are placed in the Teachers' section), live and recorded audioconferences, profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, ambassador (mascot) page updates, and Ask-an-Expert - a web board for students to post questions for answering overnight. After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or going on a related field trip, or inviting a guest speaker, or presenting what they have learned to a wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation, the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.
How teachers use LEARNZ
There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences comprise a unique collection of real, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.
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