Guest Blogger – Amy Constant,
Elementary Teacher, Fox Road Elementary,
Raleigh, North Carolina,
Member – NEED Teacher Advisory Board.

There is another glorious snow day and second quarter report cards are finished, so it is time to dig into planning. This quarter, the science unit is ecosystems. Understandably, NEED doesn’t have a huge selection of biology-specific materials. However, NEED is still going to play a part in my planning. Thankfully, I know that I can trust NEED materials to be updated, nonbiased, and accurate.

Food chains are a big part of this unit, so I can pull information and visuals on energy flow and on photosynthesis. In our talks about producers, we can bring in information on biomass, showing that plants do more than provide food for animals. An enrichment project for some students will be to look at how fossil fuels are made, using the NEED website to do research.

Science isn’t the only subject that I will pull NEED resources in planning. In literacy, my students are supposed to identify various text structures (CC RI5.5) in nonfiction text. It is challenging to find resources at different reading levels that have a variety of text structure. Just open the Infobooks – different levels, different text structures within the same document, and high interest level. Best of all, they are all a free, easy, download!

I was just introduced to a new piece that I hadn’t used before, The Peak Oil Game. What a great way to cover economy, supply and demand, use of resources, students working as teams and problem-solving; all while students learn about oil drilling. Although I’ve already covered economy this year, I am going to pull this in as a review or a way to integrate economy with limited resources.

Even when NEED materials aren’t a part of a lesson, NEED is present. The “kids teaching kids” approach, that NEED has been promoting for over 30 years, is embedded throughout my classroom. In math, we have student leaders start the class with a problem of the day, and leaders at each table who review homework. Students are put in mixed ability groups for all projects, so they can assist one another. For many of our topics, students become the experts, and then teach their classmates. I am happy to move from the Sage to the Guide.

Next quarter, when I move into motion and design, NEED will easily slide in as a focused curriculum – so much so that I won’t be able to use it all!