With the recent excitement of two new hatchlings in a bald eagle nest located here in the Quad Cities I have been hit with many questions about what my students are currently doing as a project dealing with eagles.
I thought it would a be a good time right now to go back and talk about where we started and where we are and where we hope to be in the future.
Step 1: The Beginning
In the summer of 2012 a few Bettendorf teachers thought about ways to get going with project based learning. This is something that our school is looking to shift to as a schoolwide model. At the same time ALCOA was looking for some educational materials to be created. ALCOCA has a bald eagle camera as well as an osprey camera. Last year ALCOA Bald Eagle camera had over 12 million visitors and has been awarded a top 25 camera award. We wrote a grant to work on curriculum for the classroom as well as develop a global project to connect students from various classrooms to study the eagles, Liberty and Justice.
So a few Bettendorf teachers and former students created lesson plans for classrooms to use while following the camera. I also created a global project to coincide with the camera. I am a big fan of the Flat Classroom and am certified and finally felt ready to conduct and create my own global project. Using the Alcoa Bald Eagle Camera to drive learning and enhancements of 21st century skills I set out to find schools to join us.
You can see the project page here - http://eagleeyecamera.wikispaces.com/home
Step 2: Getting Started
Amazingly, through a lot of social media sharing and campaigning we were able to get 9 schools to join us from the Netherlands, Canada, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois. As the project unfolded we were down to about 4 classrooms, but these four classrooms and teachers are beyond amazing. With any global project have you to realize not everyone will see things through. Especially when it is free.
The goal of the project is to connect classrooms. We want students to work together, share, discuss, and collaborate to create something powerful. We are using bald eagles as our platform. It has been an amazing journey. I have found myself truly caring for the eagles in ways I never thought. Additionally, students are excited to learn. They cannot wait to come to class to check the eagles, read Edmodo to see what students shared, and work on their Voicethread for their final collaborative projects.
You may not be a participant in one of the classes, but that does not mean you cannot join in the fun. You are always welcome to follow along, create artwork or projects, and join us on this expedition.
Teachers and students are all learning at the same time and shouldn't school be about everyone learning and growing? I think so.
If you have questions, suggestions, or any great ideas please let me know. Until then, check the camera, watch the eagles, and watch our learning grow along the way.
Step 3: Where we are we right now?
Right now we are wrapping up our final project using Voicethread to record what we have learned about eagles. Students are finishing up their final parts to their scripts and we are getting ready for our final celebration. Additionally, just this past weekend both eaglets hatched. We have been watchign since January and about a month ago the eggs were laid. 35 days later they hatched and it is amazing to watch nature work. We are studying and learning more than I ever imagined. Students are realizing that something like the bald eagle has endless opportunities when it comes to learning and job careers.
Step 4: What if I want to join now?
Feel free. Come to our wiki page and join us http://eagleeyecamera.wikispaces.com/home Join the wiki and contact me at (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get access to Edmodo and have your students join the dialogue. The project is over, but we are documenting the journey of the eaglets. Each day we are tracking what happens. We are studying and trying to record food delivery and intake as well as development of the eaglets before they fly off in about 12 weeks. There is still time to jump in, learn and connect. Next year I hope to see the project expand to more classrooms, more students and learning.
To close, this has been an amazing experience. I was not sure how this would go and turn out. I was scared at first when nobody wanted to join. Now I feel like we have such a powerful learning project on our hands. Classrooms have been sharing what they are doing and to me that is amazing in itself. On the wiki page you can see what all the students have been doing. The wiki has become such a vast resource of teaching ideas and information that I cannot believe. Even now we are crowd sourcing the data collection. We are asking anyone to help us out. It is amazing how many people follow these eagles - Liberty and Justice - and their two yet to be named eaglets. I never thought it would turn out as great as it has so far.
Please come join us and let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas.