Decorah, Iowa Eagles
Response to Daily Prompt: Learning
A five year old child in my class this past year came up to me after circle-time and whispered: “Listen, teacher, we have to watch our eagles right now! No way can I wait until after lunch today! Please!, Please!, Please! OK?”… How could I possibly turn down such a sweet and earnest boy begging to see our special eagles? How many five year olds literally beg for a science lesson?
As it turned out, 22 children were begging for our eagles. I didn’t realize that the rest of the class were sitting quietly in their chairs…not working on their “Letter Pp Penelope Pig” books at all…and totally staring at me. Waiting, waiting for my answer. My mind was telling me…Now this is what teaching is all about! I changed the schedule that we were supposed to follow and left literacy for later in the day. I know that some of the highly paid leaders at the administration building would not approve of such a change. Some people simply do not see the true picture very clearly. How sad. But…on to the children!
I quickly told the children to straighten up their tables, because the eagles were ready for our large Smart Board. They literally screamed and clapped for at least five minutes while I turned on my computer, found the right website, and waited for the live feed to appear. Without saying a word, all 22 little feet tiptoed to the circle and sat down in their place. Is this the same totally talkative class that entered my room back in August? Not the same at all.
What made the difference were the Decorah, Iowa Eagles coming directly to us through the magic of very close cameras and completely clear audio. The children never, ever believe that what they are watching is really and truly happening right that very minute. Through the courtesy of the non-profit Raptor Resource Project, we can watch the Mom and Dad Decorah Eagles as they build back their nest, make the nest just right for eggs, Mom lays the eggs, Dad helps sit on the eggs, the babies are hatched, the babies grow and learn to flap their wings.
After school is out for the summer, the eagles have learned to fly and then fledge…they leave the nest to make a life of their own. I encourage the children to watch the eagles during the summer. Many do not have computers at their homes, but they can watch the eagles on the local library computers. We learn as much as possible about eagles and complete as many projects as possible. Honestly, they leave with so much information that they are tiny eagle experts.
Not only has the Rapter Resource Project helped to bring new learning to children near and far, they have made Decorah and other towns special destinations for eagle admirers. The Project creates, improves, and directly maintains over 40 nests and nest sites in widespread locales. Their mission is to “preserve and strengthen raptor populations, expand participation in raptor preservation, and help foster the next generation of preservationists”.
This learning experience is amazing for the children. My classes for the last six years have all focused part of each day from February through May for the Decorah Eagles. Every class has reacted in the same way. The children are not only closer to the world of nature, but they are much closer to understanding the importance of science. Beyond that, the children are engaged and excited about learning. Thank you to the Raptor Resource Project for helping to make my last six years of teaching so very rewarding.
I am so upset about Australia’s current obsession with pure numeracy & literacy. I was appalled at how little my over achieving 3rd daughter learnt about the world than her older sisters; because the first 2 hours everyday were pure literacy & the next 2 were numeracy. So a waste for kids that get it. And yet my 4th is functionally illiterate & innumerate because her high IQ hid her lack of basic letter recognition, her dyslexia & ADHD weren’t diagnosed until she was 12 because even though we her parents and her teachers knew she couldn’t read, she could pass a test. Mum taught special needs kids and told me the best way for some kids to learn literacy & numeracy was ‘sneakily’ using other classes like cooking, art or science. Sorry for yet another tirade, you inspire me! 🙂
Decorah is on my bucket list of places to visit. You would think I would have been there already since it is in my home state!
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“22 little feet tiptoed” Love this!