Taylor Halliday is the Gifted Intervention Specialist at South Science Technology Magnet in Lima, Ohio. In this position, she engages 3rd – 8th graders in enriching projects that connect to real world challenges. Recently, her students learned about threats facing sea turtles and have been motivated to educate their peers on how to help.
I love teaching units that integrate a variety of academic areas, especially when those units connect to the world at large. That was one of the things that really drew me to WWF's Wild Classroom lessons. I was so excited to see that WWF created resources for teachers, and I couldn't wait to try out the sea turtle unit.
My 3rd and 4th grade students love animals, and they were excited to learn all about sea turtles. The Case of the Missing Sea Turtle activity was a perfect introduction, as it tied into our yearlong theme of mysteries. We completed all of the lessons in the unit, ending with A Need for the Seas where they write letters to friends or family to share the importance of protecting sea turtles. My students decided to take this activity a bit further; they put together a campaign to raise awareness throughout the school about sea turtles by raising funds to adopt a sea turtle. They designed posters, spoke to other classrooms throughout the building, collected facts to be shared via the morning announcements, and were recently featured on the local news.
It was wonderful to see how passionately my students engaged with the content. They have become sea turtle experts and hearing them talk about topics such as the importance of sustainable fishing practices to avoid bycatch, why it's important to keep trash out of our oceans, ecotourism, and the impact of global warming is inspiring. It is so important to teach our youth about conservation and ecology. They are the future of this world, and I truly believe that this generation of young people will begin to correct many of our mistakes in order to protect our environment and wildlife around the world. Ohio is nowhere near the ocean, yet my students recognize that their actions have the potential to directly impact marine life in powerful ways. They are truly committed to saving the sea turtles! My hope is that they share that passion with others, and it continues to spread.