Using Kenneth Oppel’s Young Adult Novel Bloom as a Motivating Tool for Teaching Plant Science to First-Year Undergraduate Students
The goal of this project is to make first-year college students interested in, knowledgeable about, and appreciate plants through the use of Young Adult (YA) Literature. The highly-exciting, intricately-plotted, and meticulously-researched novel, Bloom by Kenneth Oppel can be used as a literary tool to motivate students when learning about critical plant science topics such as photosynthesis, growth and development, and invasive species. In many ways, Bloom encourages students to envision plants as active participants in the ecosystem and not as unliving or uninteresting organisms. Several before, during, and after reading activities task students with applying the botanical concepts learned in the book. Additionally, as students read about the 3 main protagonists of the story, the literary topics of belonging, fitting in, and personal growth are explored and discussed to help first-year students communicate their own anxieties about fitting in at college. To evaluate student understanding of plant concepts, several assessment tools such as vocabulary-through-context flash cards, posters, scaffolded supports for labs, and a pre-and post-student survey are included.
The following resources were developed by Dr. Erin Rehrig, Professor of Biology & Chemistry, Fitchburg State University and Dr. Katy Covino, Assc. Professor of English Studies, Fitchburg State University as part of a Plant BLOOME grant.
Bloom Reading Logs– logs students use when reading the book to guide their thinking and take notes
Invasive Species Canva Poster and Activities- This is part of a unit on invasive species. Students read an article about invasive plants in the area. The teacher gives a short lecture on invasive species and then takes students on a nature walk around the school to ID plants. Students are then assigned 1 invasive plant to investigate and create a wanted poster. This parallels the “extraterrestrial/alien” species of plants from the book.
Pre-and Post- Student Surveys– Students take a survey about their perceptions and “awareness” of plants before and after the class. This can be used as an assessment to determine if this course helped students become more aware and interested in plants in their environment.
Curriculum was designed for a first-year college freshmen, but could be adapted for high school or AP Middle School biology
Aligns with the following ASPB Principles for Teaching Plant Biology: