It is a dreary April day in Ringoes, N.J., butyou'd never know it from the brightly lighted computer lab in the Copper Hill School. There, 18 fourth-graders sit at their Apple computers, writing blog posts based on what they viewed on a big screen the past two months -- the Duke Farms Eagle Cam. Some students in Diane Cook's computer lab are describing what they have observed -- from the eaglets clown feet to a recent meal, when turtle was on the menu. Other students are using the computer app Pixie to create digital color drawings on the nest, or taking screenshots of the Eagle Cam and pasting them into their posts. (Scroll down to next post or click here to see examples of their work.) Many schools use the Eagle Cam as a learning tool, but perhaps none as extensively and effectively as Diane's classes. Because of that resourcefulness and creativity, Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation chose Diane as the winner of its best Bald Eagle lesson plan contest. (To read more about Diane's award, click here.) Her prize: Diane will help band the two eaglets two weeks from now.
At the Copper Hill School, the cam is an integral part of the curriculum -- from kindergarten through the fourth grade. First-graders, for example, have done a class digital story showing the life cycle of bald eagles. Second-graders have been working a research project on the eagles. And the fourth-graders use the Eagle Cam to learn about everything from blogs to social media to Internet safety. The Copper Hill School's computer lab does have its old-school touches. Take the life-size black-felt Bald Eagle silhouette, or the illustrated note to the Bald Eagles in which a student wrote: "I missed you all summer."Also adorning a wall: a student's charming homemade stuffed toy eagle. It's a great combination of high-tech and low-tech teaching. Says Tanya Sulikowski, Duke Farms education manager: Diane is truly a model for how we hope teachers will use the Eagle Cam in their classrooms.
Coming Tomorrow: An Interview with Diane Cook.
Got a question or suggestion? E-mail Jim at email@example.com
Jim Wright writes The Bird Watcher columnist for The Record and the Herald-News. He is the author of four coffee-table books about wild places, and the deputy marsh warden of the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, N.J.