Ask one student to drop the string, maybe there was a illness that killed the raccoons, or a fire that wiped out the trees. Then, ask the students who represented something directly connected to that person to drop their string. Ask each student connected to those students to also drop their string, and have the students notice the ripple effects of losing one part of their ecosystem.
Ask students to explain why the entire group ended up dropping the string. Who was affected by this change in the ecosystem? Why? How were they affected? You could have the students answer in the journals, with a partner, or to the whole group.
Revisit the John Muir quote from the introduction of the activity. Ask students to explain if their organism is connected to everything else in the web. Ask students to explain if they personally are connected to everything else in the web. How do they know? This can be a written response or oral response in pairs.
The Lesson Plan:
Review the categories represented in students’ concept maps (or create categories, if you did not do the Concept Map lesson) and ask the students to explain a few connections between the various concepts you outline on the board. Prepare the Community Web Cards by attaching string to the cards so students can wear them like a necklace for the lesson. Have enough cards for each of your students and for yourself.
“When you try to remove one single thing, you find it’s hitched to everything else in the universe.” This is a famous quote by John Muir, and we're about to try an activity that will help you understand what he meant by this.
What am I- Then use that living or non-living item as their role in the web
After you have recorded connections the students made on the concept maps, pass out the Community Web Cards. Ask students to wear the cards like a necklace so that the picture is facing other students.
Gather six students and demonstrate the activity. The demonstration circle will be in the center and the rest of your group will form an outer circle around them. Remind students to speak loudly and clearly. Save one card for yourself.
Hand a ball of string to one member of the group. This person will choose one other person in the group to whom they are connected and toss the ball of string underhand to that person while holding on to the loose end of the string. They cannot toss the ball of string to the person standing directly next to them.
The first person should share how they are connected to that person immediately after they throw the ball of string. Encourage students to use names of living and nonliving objects the two people represent instead of the student’s name. For example, “I am a Cedar Tree and I depend on the stream to provide the water that is needed to nourish my form.” The second person will repeat the above instructions by choosing someone different to toss the ball of string to.
Students should think about both direct and indirect connections. How do they depend on each other? What things might they need to survive? The last person who receives the ball of string has to identify a connection with the first person and toss the ball of string to the first person to close the web.
Once the first student receives the ball of string, have each student in the group take a step back to tighten the web. Reiterate safety and remind students to not pull too tightly and to be careful not to hurt anyone.
Next, have students (including those in your demonstration group) form into groups of six. Give each group a ball of string and instruct them to complete the activity. If group is small enough, there may be no need to split them into small groups. This can be done with a group of ten also.
Rotate between students to check for understanding.
Once all groups have a taut web, ask the students to think about if there was a time when something changed or was affected? Who in the group is affected because of this change? Ask the person who represents the affected “thing” to drop the string. Then, ask the students who represented something directly connected to that person to drop the string. (This should only be two people; the person who tossed them the string and the person to whom they tossed the string.) Repeat until each student has dropped the string.
"What and whom are you connected to? What difference does it make in your life?"
Ask students to explain why the entire group ended up dropping the string. Who was affected? Why? How did these changes affect the people in the film? What did the people in the film do as a result of these changes? Are there changes happening in your community? How have these changes affected you?
Have the students reflect and write a sentence or two about the questions on the Community Web Worksheet.
Extend the Learning...
Have students write a story, draw a web, or create a piece of art that explains their personal web, using the guiding question to direct their work. Ask students to share their work with the class.
Use the film, "Teachings of the Tree People." Was there a time when something changed or was affected? Who in the group is affected because of this change? Ask the person who represents the affected “thing” to drop the string. Then, ask the students who represented something directly connected to that person to drop the string. (This should only be two people; the person who tossed them the string and the person to whom they tossed the string.) Repeat until each student has dropped the string. (For example: In the IslandWood film Teachings of the Tree People, the main character, Bruce Miller, describes the loss of the cedar trees due to deforestation and development. The person who represented the cedar tree may be asked to drop the string, representing the decline of cedar trees. Then the two people who had connections with the cedar tree should drop the string, too.)