We’re bringing birds to a Shelton Classroom
By Kim Adelson – One of the exciting new collaborations begun by BHAS last year is a partnership with Aidé Villalobos, a second-grade teacher at Evergreen Elementary School in Shelton. We have long talked about our desire to “adopt” a school; that is, to do more than give one-shot presentations in classrooms but to instead return to a single school on a regular basis and use birds to foster an appreciation of nature and an interest in science in children. Beginning this winter and continuing into next year, we are doing just that!
Aidé is an energetic, enthusiastic, and creative teacher. She approached us about coming into her classroom to teach her students about birds, show them how to properly use binoculars, and help select bird feeders and food. Her hope was that observing birds would not only be engaging to her students, but would also be an avenue to helping students access national science and math standards, including developing data collection and graphing skills. Aidé successfully wrote several grants which allowed her to purchase binoculars for her students’ use, and, thanks to Bob Morse’s generosity, we were able to provide the class with field guides. She also got funds to set up several bird feeders outside the classroom windows.
Evergreen Elementary is a dual language school, and the students spend half of the day learning in English and half in Spanish. Aidé is partnered with another teacher, Jennifer Dawson, and on the days we come they modify their schedules so that we can work with both sets of students back-to-back. We spend about an hour with each group of children. Shelley Spalding and I have taken them on bird walks, practiced binocular use, talked about the birds likely to show up at their feeders, worked with them on using a book’s index, discussed how you can guess what a bird eats by the shape of its beak, and explained about the dangers birds face while migrating. Next year, we hope also to have the students keep running records of the birds seen from their classroom windows, practice making graphs of the data, and coordinate with the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to prepare the students for their field trip there.
The children are enthusiastic and excited to learn about birds! They look happy when they realize that we will be working with them, and they ask us many questions. A significant number already seem to know quite a bit about our local birds but are eager to learn more. We truly look forward to going back to Evergreen next year.