Learning in the classroom is important, but the teachers at Dallas International School know that when you take students out into the real world, learning can happen on a new and even more engaging level.
Such was the case with the 8th graders as they took a scientific adventure to the Trinity River Audubon Center this week. There, students were able to observe firsthand the ecological concepts they had been studying in textbooks.
“The purpose of visiting the Trinity River was to learn about different ecosystems within Dallas and how different plants and animals can survive in our environment,” said Ms. Hennah Abubaker, a science teacher at DIS who led the trip. “This was a unit the students had previously studied and I felt it would be a great chance for them to show off their knowledge in action in the real world. I was hoping they would see that just a tiny change in habitat can hugely alter what type of animal or plant species can survive in that particular environment.”
On the trip, students were outdoors for the majority of the day, hiking through the forest and taking notes on the plants and animals they observed. They discussed what they had learned in class and pointed out different species of plant and animal life to each other. They also spent time in the informational center at the river. In short, they loved it.
“I felt the students were really impressed with what they saw, which is something I could not recreate in the classroom,” Ms. Abubaker said. “The students who initially did not show much interest in this unit in the class all of a sudden were immediately engaged and wanted to know more, because they could see it right in front of them.”
“Overall, they showed a lot of enthusiasm and we got a lot of ‘thank you’s’ from the students as we left the center,” she said. “They were really excited about spending the day outside hiking and understanding the world around them.”
Ms. Abubaker and her colleagues do their best to not only take students on field trips, but also give them various opportunities to learn in non-traditional ways.
“In the science department, we always try and link classroom activities to real-life situations,” Ms. Abubaker said. “We always strive to have interactive and engaging lessons, which include hands-on labs, group work, incorporating videos and setting up different stations around the classroom for students to move around and work through.”
“The 8th graders are currently watching the TV series ‘Cosmos’ at home and if we have 10-15 minutes to spare in class, we also watch parts of episodes,” she said. “The show ties in with our current unit on astronomy, and it helps students use their imagination to explore our universe and beyond.”
Ms. Abubaker hopes this type of learning will help set a habit of curiosity that will last throughout her students’ lives.
“I want students to constantly be using their time to educate themselves,” she said.