Monday, March 4, 2013

Bald Eagle 'No Brainer' - Live Feed Sparks Student Interest

Do you think it's more exciting to read about a bald eagle, or to see one in action? 

No brainer.  It's much more fun to see a bald eagle in action.  Rummel Creek students in Mrs. Schwab-Trevino's class are getting to do just that as they take learning into the digital age. A unique combination of bald eagles and online learning are engaging students in the study of biology and science in new and innovative ways.

RCE Students Blogging with Other Eagle Cam Participants
The Alcoa Eagle Cam began in 2009 when a pair of eagles, Liberty and Justice, joined the Alcoa Davenport community in Iowa. By the spring of 2011, the pair had spawned a pair of eaglets and a growing interest in their activities.  

Since then, viewers have witnessed the addition of three more eaglets who were named by online vote Faith, Hope and Spirit.

Now in its third year, the Alcoa Eagle Cam, has exploded in popularity.  Students are able to observe the nesting habits and life cycle of the eagles, while participating in a collaborative dialogue between students in North Carolina, Texas, Canada and the Netherlands.

Thank you to Alcoa and the Bettendorf Iowa School District for creating and sharing learning modules as part of the Alcoa Eagle Cam with students in Spring Branch and around the world!

What SBISD educator Mrs.Schwab-Trevino has to say about the Eagle Cam:

Q: How have your students benefited from this experience?

This has given the word scientist a new meaning in the eyes of a second grader’s life!  They've learned to use observation skills to view live video feed, conduct research and take notes citing sources when needed, participate in communicating online and interviewing others on what they have learned is real world.

We are collaborating with students from all over – United States, Canada, The Netherlands, and I believe we even had an art lesson from Australia! Our classroom walls have been torn down and we work with kids of all ages.  

Liberty and Justice (Alcoa’s Bald Eagle) are our “hook” into discovering more about our “Birds of Prey” curriculum. It is neat to witness students engaging with one another without their age being a factor. I believe that we are the youngest group participating, but that hasn’t stopped us from learning. This is an “open” group where anyone can participate. I think the biggest impact so far is seeing how when working together, we can help each other and solve problems!

Q: How has it inspired you as an educator?

This collaboration has really challenged me as a teacher. It has opened my eyes to the capabilities we have as educators using technology. I will admit, it was hard to go out and try something all by myself – but I am so glad I did.  I believe that my excitement has poured over into the learning atmosphere of my class. As we learn new things together, it helps my students to learn that it’s OK to make mistakes. Sometimes we need to take a moment to troubleshoot something.  It's important for students to see that we persevere until we have given it our “all”. 

I remember telling my students at the beginning of this adventure, that we will try this project out. I told them that it seemed very interesting and that since we could see the eagles live, it would make this even more meaningful than if we picked any other bird to learn about. As a community, we agreed that if it became too complicated or we wanted to back out, we would cross that bridge together! Obviously, we are still working which means this is a success!!!

Our excitement is just about to spill over because our eaglets will soon hatch – and when that happens, it is going to take all I have to keep the noise level down so we do not disrupt our other second grade friends. We have become passionate about science! The kids are eager to learn and look forward to learning more. Having seen how an eagle tears apart its prey, and devours it over our ActiveBoard, is an experience that cannot be replicated! We look forward in welcoming our newest “eaglet” members to family.  My class will forever remember this project!!!



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