Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review of EdTechLens' Rainforest Journey

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
Science is one of those subjects that we do sort of haphazardly on the fly in the moment here at Salve Regina. We watch a lot of science-y stuff on TV (hey! It counts!) We read science-y stuff. We definitely do delight-directed learning science (as in, Nicholas (12) is on a huge chemistry kick at the moment, so his curriculum is heavily chemistry-oriented right now. Oh, and Therese is in 9th grade so she's doing biology, no arguments there. For the twins, though, science just happens. I was so happy, then, that it recently happened in the form of EdTechLens and their beautiful Rainforest Journey.

I used this gorgeous online supplemental science curriculum with my 5th grade twins, and they really enjoyed it. Did I mention how visually appealing Rainforest Journey is? I probably will say that a dozen more times in this review. It is impossible not to be blown away by the beauty of this program. You know how you walk into a Best Buy and see the "wall o' televisions" with the unbelievably bright and beautiful nature images on them? That's what this science program looks like. If you like that kind of thing, you'll love Rainforest Journey.

What Is It?

Rainforest Journey is like many traditional school science programs in that it covers the same concepts at each level (it has K-5), but with increasing complexity as the grade levels progress. That's great news if you want to use it with multiple children, but still want to teach the same things to all of your kids. Like its name implies, Rainforest Journey examines life science concepts using the rainforest as its classroom.

The core of the program is 34 short lessons, accompanied by assessments consisting of multiple choice questions and open-ended discussion questions. There are also review activities and expert interviews interspersed throughout. 

Again, because the program teaches life science concepts using the rainforest, your child will learn the kinds of things you would expect him to learn in a life science class - things like adaptation, the ecosystem, mammals, reptiles, plants, etc. It's just that the rainforest is the unifying theme that ties all of the lessons together. It's actually rather a neat concept! It feels like you're learning something more cohesive than you would in a standard science textbook, for example. The things you are learning can be extrapolated to other environments, but you are learning a *lot* about the rainforest as you learn about life science in general. What a neat idea!

The broadest course outline looks like this:

If you expand a unit (here Unit 2), you see this view:

Clicking on Chapter 1 yields this view:

Finally, clicking on Lesson 1 leads to this:

It is within this section that you experience the curriculum as I describe above (although the amazing pictures are shown throughout - I haven't included them in the screenshots for space reasons, but you can see examples in the collage at the top of the review).

How We Used Rainforest Journey

Essentially, Michael and Mary-Catherine (both 11) and I have just been making our way through this curriculum 20 or so minutes a day. It is the last thing we do before lunch, kind of like a treat. They really look forward to it. I let the curriculum read itself to us (you'll see the "sound" button on the screenshot above) and then we just follow through each of the steps in the lessons. At the end of a chapter, I print out the assessment so that they can each have a copy, but I have not been treating this like a graded course. Really, it's so enjoyable just to learn our way through the rainforest!

If you like doing science "gently," or if you are not sure what to do for science in the waning months of this school year, you might really enjoy this offering from EdTechLens! There is a lot of wonderful, solid information here, and the visuals are so stunning.

I have shared with you our 5th grade experience, but Crew members with younger children have also been exploring the rainforest, so be sure to click the banner below to see what they have to say!

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment