Performance Assessment Design Initiative (PADI)

Second Graders Participate in an Interdisciplinary Ecosystem Study as Scientific Field Researchers

For over a month, second graders at Glenwood Landing have been participating in an interdisciplinary Ecosystems study under the direction of Audra Marcantonio, School-wide Enrichment Services Teacher, in conjunction with their teachers and the Glenwood Landing SCA.


As part of the Performance Assessment Design Initiative (PADI), second graders have been researching a number of questions including, “Is balance essential?,” “How do parts of a system work interdependently and dependently?,” “How do individuals and communities impact the diversity, interdependence, and balance of ecosystems?,” How do ecosystems differ and how are they similar?,” and How Do Field Researchers learn, investigate, and take action?”


To answer these questions and many more, the young students at Glenwood Landing have become scientific field researchers, keeping journals, making observations, developing an action plan, and reporting results as they study scientific ecosystems based on the Next Generation Science Standards.


To do so, they have had to identify problems in our ecosystems (both in and out of school) while developing skillsets necessary to become successful scientific field researchers. Some of the necessary skillsets include brainstorming solutions, gathering data, observing patterns, identifying problems, recording/labeling information, drawing conclusions, making inferences, and evaluating the strongest possible options. In addition, students have had to work together and collaborate as well as create rubrics to determine the components of an ecosystem and its relationships between its working parts. Consistent with the District’s Shared Valued Outcomes (SVOs), the second graders have also become better communicators, problem solvers, collaborators, innovators, and committed individuals as a result of this grade level PADI initiative. 


Thanks to Enrichment Teacher Audra Marcantonio and their second grade teachers, the GWL students have had the opportunity to participate in this interdisciplinary ecosystem study two times during a six-day cycle. They have gone out into the environment to locations such as Sea Cliff Beach and Garvies Point to gather data, make field observations in their journals. Additionally, they have learned key vocabulary terms including adaptation, biotic, abiotic, cultural, biome, biodiversity, cohabitation, decomposers, dependent, erosion, ecosystem, field research, interdependence, global warming, organism, symbiotic, species, structure, and human footprint. While in the field, they also sketched in their journals their observations and drew the abiotic and biotic parts of the ecosystems while analyzing how the parts of the individual ecosystems synthesize.  

If you have not already, please ask your Glenwood Landing second graders about their observations and experiences as scientific field researchers. Ask them what they explored, researched, and concluded in the various ecosystems that they visited. Their scientific conclusions may surprise you as they discuss possible concerns in our ecosystems due to overpopulation, pollution in the water, littering, global warming and/or habitat loss.

Article by Shelly Newman with assistance from Audra Marcantonio
Photos from all of the GWL 2nd Grade Teachers and Audra Marcantonio

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