Mrs. Shealey’s 3rd grade class is still investigating our bird problem at Barrow. They have made observations, developed questions, tracked suggestions and research findings, and made hypotheses about what they might try to stop the birds from flying into the window while still making our campus a bird-friendly place. Last week, Ms. Hicks and I reached out to several people through email, Facebook, and Twitter to try to find people to connect with our students through Skype.
Today, Mrs. Shealey’s class came to hear from 2 experts. Expert 1 was Claire Wislar, a former Barrow student. She is a middle school student and aspires to be an ornithologist. Over the weekend, she did some research on the topic for us as well as thought about her own knowledge and experiences with birds and windows. Shawn Hinger, Clarke Middle Media Specialist, setup a computer in her office for Claire to use. During her short Skype session, Claire let the students ask questions as well as shared to things that the students might try: wind chimes to scare the birds,electrical tape in lines on the window, and putting Saran wrap on the windows. It was so much fun to have a connection to a student who used to go to our school who was able to share her expertise with students.
Expert 2 was Jennifer Fee with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Cornell has an impressive program in Ornithology and a great website resource that we have already been using. It was really interesting because Jennifer has experience with this same problem at her building at Cornell. She and her colleagues did an action research project, too, and tried several solutions and collected data. She explained this process to the students. She also made some suggestions about what students might try: shiny decals, hang CDs by windows, bird feeders that stick to windows or bird feeders that aren’t right by the windows, and bird shape cutouts. She also encouraged the students to keep trying the things that they are trying and to constantly collect data on what was happening. We were so excited that at the end of our time together she told us that she would be sending a window bird feeder for us to try!
Expert 3 did not connect with us in real-time but sent us an email instead. Richard Hall is the president of the local Audubon Society. He suggested that student visit this website and also try cross-hatching the window with a yellow hi lighter. He also invited the students to write about their experience in the local Audubon Society newsletter! They are so excited about this opportunity.
This is such an exciting project. It is full of higher order thinking, student ownership, multiple standards, and authenticity. I was sure to be transparent with students about how we connected with so many fantastic people. The power of social media and technology “for good” is incredible.