Website review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2019

bioGraphic

Awe-inspiring nature resource places importance on our planet's future

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Grades
6–12
Subjects & Skills
Science, Social Studies, Critical Thinking, College & Career Prep

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Pros: No ads, high-quality content, inspiring photography, detailed and focused reporting.

Cons: The site doesn't include follow-up resources or extra material, and it could be better organized for finding what's needed.

Bottom Line: For learning about how animals survive on a changing planet and about possible solutions to threatened ecosystems, bioGraphic is a stunning and informative place to start.

BioGraphic is a valuable resource for teachers because of its high-quality content and lack of ads or paywalls. Teachers can include its material in any geography, biology, ecology, or environmental science class. Encourage younger students to pick a topic covered on the site and research it further. Older students can research additional places, species, systems, and solutions that aren't covered on the site, perhaps even topics local to your area, where they can also take their own photographs or videos.

Since bioGraphic is intended to be a reference site, it's up to teachers to find out how best to work it into lessons or create meaning for their students. Have your students browse the site, reading articles that interest them, exploring themes, and watching videos. Then have them write response papers on what they thought, or have them share what they've learned with the class. Students with similar interests can work together to learn more about them, or to discover projects in your local area.

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BioGraphic is a nonprofit, multimedia nature magazine run by the California Academy of Sciences. It's filled with impressive photos and videos that highlight animals, plants, places, natural systems, and the people who are working to implement solutions -- such as technologies, tools, and ideas -- to keep our environment running sustainably, combating threats to our environment and our planet's future. The site includes photo galleries, videos, articles, photo essays, spotlighted animal stories, and more, which generally focus on one species or one area that's threatened, or one kind of technology that might help.

By diving deep into a topic, students learn -- both locally and on a grander scale -- about environmental challenges, adaptations, possible solutions, and why it's all important. They learn specifics about how climate change is affecting ecosystems and how animal species manage to survive, along with getting a close look at local areas, through illustrative photographs and videos paired with compelling narratives.

The site's search capabilities are simple but effective, and each of the resources lists related topics/content at the bottom of the page, making it easy to connect similar content.

It's fantastic for browsing, with students following wherever their interests take them, but bioGraphic's basic search capabilities and general topics can also give them a bit of guidance. Regardless of how students get to the content, they'll come away with detailed knowledge of how animals live in the wild along with a better idea of challenges that currently face our planet. The high-quality imagery combined with top-notch writing and reporting speak to students on more than one level, leaving them with inspiration to learn more about all kinds of animal species and areas of the world. They may also be inspired to learn more about technologies being developed to combat climate change and to guide our planet in a healthy direction.

Students will learn about how animals survive in our changing world, about specific places and habitats that need protection, about how Earth's systems are affected by climate change, and about people working to protect the environment. Scientific discoveries and conservation issues, along with solutions to major sustainability problems, are also highlighted. Students may even be inspired to work toward creating change in their own community.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Breathtaking photos and imagery entice students right from the start. Compelling writing pulls students in to read the longer-form articles and drives them to get involved.

Pedagogy

Though generally a reference site, bioGraphic will nonetheless spark deep discussion and teach students about animals, places, and more, with both a broad and narrow focus.

Support

No help is available on the site. These resources can stand on their own, but the site could benefit from links to external resources or lesson plans to integrate the material into the classroom.


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