The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees
- More in The Honeybee Man Classroom Bookshelf Blog Entry. The following Teaching Invitations can be found in our entry on The Honeybee Man: Where’s Your Honey From?; Taste and Sensory Details; Meet the Bees; Queen Bees and World History; Local Food Production; Colony Collapse Disorder.
- Duet Model Reading. Read The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery along with Markle’s 2012 title The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery in a Duet Model reading (see our Teaching WithText Sets entry) to compare content, genre, and writing style. Discuss similarities and differences in the plight of these species and efforts to improve conditions. Consider how Markle provides the reader with information about the species and how she structures the text to support readers’ understandings. Be sure to also consider the genre of the photo essay as a vehicle for science writing. After reading, examining, and discussing these two titles, students may be inspired to create their own nature-themed photo-essays.
- Processes of Pollination. Read Bobbie Kalman’s What is Pollination to expand students’ knowledge of the processes of pollination. Ask students to create visual representations of their understanding of the processes involved in pollination. Use the diagrams that you find in the collection of honeybee books below as models for student created representation. Arrange for students to have the opportunity to visit another classroom to show and explain their diagrams.
- A Timeline of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Include The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees in a text set with The Hive Detectives, The Buzz About Bees, and an array of the digital texts below. Divide students into groups to work on detailing sections of a timeline that tracks beginning awareness of CCD, efforts to investigate the causes of CCD, and ups and downs in the honeybee population. Consider using a roll of craft paper to create a wall length mural timeline that tracks the progression of scientific knowledge about CCD.
- Learning More About Bees. Use the collection of survey texts about honeybees listed below along with Markle’s book to learn more about the behaviors and roles of honeybees. Divide your class up into working groups based on sub-topics that you and/or your students identify, for example: honeymaking; colony life, beekeeping; uses for honey. Groups should put together a written product to demonstrate their learning. This could take the form of a group-authored and illustrated book, a Voice Thread, or a PowerPoint presentation.
- First Hand Research: Interview a Beekeeper. In her author’s note, Sandra Markle describes her research process and how she “talked to beekeepers and became caught up in the very personal side of the story of the vanishing honeybees” (p. 44). Arrange for students to have an opportunity to interview a local beekeeper, ideally in person, but possibly by Skype. Students should prepare interview questions in advance.
- Human Impact on Animal Population. Gather together a collection of books that highlight species in crisis. Your text set might include The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees, The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, The Wolves are Back, and A Place for Butterflies along with any other digital texts you feel are appropriate that highlight the plight of threatened animals in your area or around the globe. Create a graphic organizer that guides students to read across these texts noting: initial awareness of the problem, suspect causes for the decline, and efforts to bolster survival rates. As an extension of this study students might further explore suspected causes such as habitat destruction,
- Bee Poetry. After reading Markle’s books and several other books that highlight the important role that honeybees play in an ecosystem, share with students the bee poems found in UnBEElievables, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, and Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices. Invite your students to use these poems as models for their own compositions; these compositions should reflect their learning about honeybees (be scientifically accurate). Hold a honeybee poetry event at which students read and perform their poems.
- Endangered Species Act. 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Explore the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website to learn more about the Act and its accomplishments. Use The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees as a launching point for discussion of competing interests and their relation to species survival. For example, who stands to gain and lose if stricter regulations on pesticide use were put into place to reduce damaging effects on honeybee populations. Students can conduct an internet search for “Bayer and Colony Collapse Disorder” to find several documents that discuss the Bayer company’s response to a claim that a class of pesticides they produce for a commonly used pesticide is implicated in CCD. Invite students to consider how community actions might support or hinder honeybee population growth. Students could write opinion pieces to submit to a local community publication.
Filed under: Nonfiction
About Erika Thulin Dawes
Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.
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