A Journey Through Biomes
HOW IT WORKS
In A Journey Through Biomes, students explore the five biomes: the savannah, the desert, the
rain forest, the tundra, and the ocean, and how soil, water, rocks, and climate determine the
types of plants that grow in these areas and the animals that feed on them. Various
content areas such as social studies, mathematics, and language arts
are integrated, and computers play a big role, with Internet access and
word processing. Students actively engage in an ongoing writing
process in which they compose poems, letters, and essays that
pertain to the various aspects of the subject matter. They
record information from different websites and gather data on the biomes’
climates, plants, and ecosystems, and do research about a specific
animal from one biome. The students download information and
pictures of that animal, its characteristics, its predators, and its prey.
They take notes and discuss these with the teacher and with their
peers, both in groups and individually. Finally, the students produce
individual pieces of writing, with a research paper as the
A Journey Through Biomes was created for students to work
cooperatively and individually. It is a program for English language
learners that can be adapted to all language and academic levels.
Twenty students participate in this program. The activities are
modified according to the students’ language proficiency and
academic levels. Those unfamiliar with standard English will benefit
from visual aids, teachermade materials, and the various websites’
sounds and pictures. The students are paired heterogeneously in
order to assist and encourage each other.
Nydia Bernacet has taught English Language Learners (ELL) for eight
years—three years for Bilingual Pupil Services and five years as a
third grade teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in Education and a
master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. She
created A Journey Through Biomes to help students reach higher
academic and language levels, and she is in her fourth year of
implementing the program.
WHAT YOU NEED
Required materials include several computers with Internet access for
research and a wordprocessing program such as AppleWorks or
Student Writing Center, various books related to biomes, an
encyclopedia, magazines such as National Geographic for Kids, and
portfolios. The class also goes on field trips to the Bronx
Zoo, Central Park, and Flushing Meadows Park.
This program takes students on a journey via science, social studies,
and mathematics. It also promotes the students’ awareness of life
conservation and encourages them to be advocates for endangered
species. During this journey, students become fascinated with the
diversity of each biome and the learning that takes place on many
levels. This is an interdisciplinary program in which students perform
different tasks, go through the writing process, and finish with a
product that increases their pride and self-confidence.