Oysters & Organisms Lessons



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If you’ve taken your students to their Oyster Restoration Station multiple times this year, and in the process led them through a long-term original research process, this would be a good lesson for you. It’s designed as a debrief of the final visit to the ORS.

Materials and Resources


Prepare a set of memorabilia from earlier field visits and work on the long-term research project this year, such as: Lists of students questions, sorted at least roughly by date Photographs of this class in the field earlier this year Photographs of things they’ve seen and done in the field and/or during their long-term research project from earlier this year Examples of student work in the field and/or on their long-term research project from earlier this year Supplies that were used in the field and/or during their long-term research project (e.g. water quality testing materials)

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

This lesson is for a class that has visited their ORS several times during the year, is working on a long-term original research project associated with their field experience, and recently visited the ORS for the final time this school year. Before teaching the lesson, you’ll need to prepare memorabilia from earlier field visits this year, such as previous lists of student questions, photographs, other examples of student work, and supplies that were used (e.g. water quality testing materials), to help jog students’ memories of their field work over the course of the year.

Instruction Plan


Ask your students:

What did you notice in the field yesterday?  Write a paragraph or two and/or sketch something that stands out to you from yesterday’s field experience.

Then ask students to share their recollections.  Keep track of their comments on a board, or in your own notes, as they share.  

Encourage students to respond to one another’s recollections with additional thoughts or questions, and keep track of these as well.  Probably the quickest way to keep track is in your own notes.  With practice, it gets easier to take notes and lead a discussion at the same time.


Distribute the memorabilia of students’ field and long-term research experiences, such as previous lists of student questions, photographs, examples of student work, and supplies that were used (e.g. water quality testing materials).  You may want to organize memorabilia stations and let the students rotate through different parts of the collection.

Distribute the Handout “What were we thinking about?”

Give students time to review those memorabilia and begin the first section of the Handout.

Then they can return to their seats and complete the remainder of the Handout.  Partway through it, they will need to gather in small groups.  One way to do that is to form groups as students complete the individual portion.  That way, some groups get more time than others, but no one has to wait very long to start working with their group, and everyone has as much time as they need to work individually.

The last part of the Handout, about unanswered questions, is actually the most important part.  The rest is designed to get students thinking about and remembering their questions, curiosities, and wonderings!  If you have lists of student questions from earlier in the year, that will be a great help.


Tell your students:

Today you will identify the most important or interesting follow-up questions from this year’s field and long-term research experiences.  There are differences between the follow-up questions asked by journalists, toddlers, students, and scientists such as yourselves, but the heart of the matter is the same: using new information to dig deeper.


The final section of the lesson can be done on a different day, if you need time to gather the students’ questions from today.  If you have technology that lets them pool their questions instantaneously, you can continue the same day:

In small groups, ask students to:

    Look at our pool of:

  • New questions from today or the last field visit

  • Unanswered questions from earlier this year

    Which of these questions are great follow-up questions?  Why do you think so?

If you had unlimited time and resources to actually follow up on any of these questions -- whether or not you think they count as follow-up questions -- what would you do?

If you can, promise your students to take their ideas into account when planning next year’s long-term research project.

Then lead a discussion in which students share their responses and respond to one another’s ideas.  

Collect the 5 “best” questions on the board. To get the discussion going, feel free to play devil’s advocate, and argue for some unpopular choices.

As the final activity, the class can vote on the question they would most like to study in the future. You can post it in the room and even pass it on to their science teacher for the following year.