November 10, 2021

Example Tyto Online Storyline Implementation

Lindsey Tropf

We wanted to share a unified example of what it looks like to implement a Tyto Online Storyline within the classroom. We pride ourselves in the fact that Tyto Online is versatile enough to be useful in many different types of classroom settings (including remote, semi-remote, and homeschool!) but we also have our own ideas for how teachers might use it as a tool in their classrooms! Here's an example of one way Tyto Online could be used to enhance classroom learning.

We'll use 'Seal of Disapproval' as our example. This storyline comes last in our Ecology module. In this storyline, students meet Ronan the Seal, who hasn't been her usual hungry self lately. She's listless and seems uncomfortable, and Captain Nenson (the marine biodome's supervisor) is worried.

The storyline's anchoring phenomenon has to do with both bioamplification (also known as biomagnification) and water pollution, specifically microplastics.

As students go about the week, they should be filling out a Summary Table explaining what they've been doing in each quest. This will help them to keep track of what they've learned so far.


Time: 30-45m

Students begin the week by completing quest 1. In this quest, Captain Nenson describes the problem at hand and students learn that Ronan has some unidentified mass in her stomach that is blocking her digestive system.

After students complete the first quest, they have an OWL Board discussion.


Time: 45-60m

Students complete quests 2 and 3.

In quest 2, they learn that the peacock groupers to which Ronan has had access appear to have the same type of material in their digestive systems as Ronan does, though it has not caused a blockage.

In quest 3, Captain Nenson asks players to perform the same tests on all of the different animals living in the marine biodome. Students complete a flowchart illustrating the food chain within the biodome and learn that the unidentified matter is found in all of the animals in the food chain to which Ronan belongs, but not in any other food chains.

Both quests contain an argument builder task, so students can fill out a CER worksheet to explain the reasoning they used to convince Captain Nenson.


Time: 45m

Students start the day by revisiting their OWL board and updating it with the information and insights they’ve gathered so far.

Students complete quests 4 and 5 today.

Quest 4 establishes the fact that the particles in the animals’ digestive systems are inorganic (that is, undigestible) matter. Since the matter cannot be digested, it builds up in animals’ systems. The more you eat, the bigger the buildup, which is why Ronan has the worst buildup of all.

In quest 5, they learn that the inorganic matter is actually paint that has been chipping from the underside of Captain Nenson’s boat.


Time: 45m

Students finish up the storyline with quest 6 today. In quest 6, students work with Captain Nenson to find a solution that will balance the needs of the biodome’s critters as well as the financial limitations of Tyto Academy.

By now, the students’ Summary Table should be fully filled out . Here are sample entries for the first 3 quests in the storyline:

Students write down the activities they perform in each quest, as well as evidence gathered, why this activity is relevant to the driving question, and what they learned in the quest that connects to the problem at hand.

Students also revisit their OWL board for the last time today. The teacher guides a discussion that allows students to identify questions that were not answered within the storyline.

Students can then be put into small groups (or can work independently if needed) to do independent research on the questions that have gone unanswered.


Time: 45m

On Friday, the class wraps up with presentations! Every group presents their research into questions or issues that were not addressed by the storyline.

With any time left over, supplemental learning materials can be shown to the class. Teacher guides always include a few links or ideas for ancillary activities that would be appropriate for classroom use.

Of course, this is just one idea for how Tyto Online can be used in classrooms. We'd love to hear yours!

Alternative Wrap-Up

Time: 60+ minutes

Rather than deciding to wrap up the unit with student small-group research into unanswered questions, an alternative comes from our teacher guide. We have suggested in-class extensions from hands-on challenges to online videos showing the real science phenomenon we're based on, etc.

In this case, we have a blended approach with related hands-on outside the game! After learning about microplastics in the storyline, we suggest an engineering design challenge that can be brought into the classroom with students then trying to figure out how they would clean plastic out of water!

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