Portrait of a Happy Camper

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Meet Bobby Maas, an SPI Learning Lab Naturalist! 

Bobby Maas was just one of the students involved in the Monadnock Regional Middle-High School Learning Lab program. His 7th grade class, headed by Literacy Specialist Jane Calnan, was introduced to SPI audio of noted ornithologist and birdsong expert Donald Kroodsma. The audio, along with more than 100 images of birds, donated to SPI by bird photographer John van de Graaf, served as the engagement piece for this term-long pilot project.

Birdfeeders were set up in the school courtyard. The students’ assignment was to keep a nature journal, in which they drew and identified the birds that they saw and engaged in reflective writing. Their observations were compiled and sent to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch Program.

The students also interviewed New Hampshire-based naturalist / wildlife photographer, Rick Libbey. (The picture of Bobby was taken during that interview session). The learning that took place throughout the term was broad and deep, ranging from writing and drawing to scientific observation, as well as research and interviewing skills. Perhaps the pièce de résistance – the students designed a bird sanctuary and wrote a proposal to have it built. They presented their proposal at a meeting of the School Board and guess what?  It was unanimously approved. Work begins this summer!

SPI primary source audio, coupled with project-based lesson plans result in learning that is fun, multi-disciplinary, and significant.

A Learning Lab Student Comment

I think personally that this class is the greatest. I think this class is a wonderful idea and I don’t want to stop doing this. This has made me less bored during Intervention and Extension while learning things that inspire me to want to be a naturalist. I love this group and I don’t want it to end. I want to keep doing this and see how the bird sanctuary will turn out.

And Another:

The SPI Learning Lab Project was memorable because I was able to explore nature, physically and mentally. I loved how it was hands on because I got to do all of the filling of bird feeders, making blueprints, and just being able to be with the birds.

Photo copyright Story Preservation Initiative 2015

Stories Matter

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