In my early days as a teacher, when my class studied the producers and consumers in an environment, I’d start and end with these tasks:
- Explain what a producer is.
- Explain what a consumer is.
Now that’s a fine place to start. It’s a low floor… but also a pretty low ceiling. Students are just restating known information.
So let’s integrate a prompt of Depth and Complexity, namely Ethics. This tool focuses my students on the good and bad, the problems, or the pros and cons of the topic.
In fact, since my students can already explain what a producer and consumer are, let’s ask them to consider:
- What are the pros and cons of producers?
- What are the pros and cons of consumers?
Now students are thinking beyond the mere definition and instead wondering thinking about the ethical issues of each type of creature. They might wonder if it’s right that producers put work into producing while consumers just come along and eat them!
Once we have some juicy thinking going about pros and cons, let’s bump things up another level. Now we’ll integrate the prompt of Multiple Perspectives and ask students to slip into the shoes of a producer and a consumer.
What do producers think about consumers? What do consumers think about producers? Using your pros and cons, create a short dialogue in which these two types of creatures have an honest and open discussion about what they like and don’t like about the other. Of course, we always start with a compliment!
This starts as a piece of writing, but, if they have the time and interest, students could produce a skit, a piece of animation, a comic, or whatever floats their boat.
Now, I like to save the decomposer for last. Personally, I love the idea of some weird, poo-eating critter wandering in on this lovely conversation. Now, the producer and consumer have to think of something nice to say about the decomposer, and maybe also offer a suggesstion or two!