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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Amazing Natural Wonders of the World!

If you could go anywhere to explore the beauty of the earth, where would you go?  Below is an electronic book of where my students chose to go.  We were blown away by the amazing natural wonders of the world, and many of my students never knew these phenomenal sites existed.  Check out this link to see our complete list of destinations, and enjoy a global expedition of beauty, intrigue, and fascination!

Have you ever visited one of the world's natural wonders?  We would love to hear all about your experiences...please share!

Great Information About the Decorah Eagles!

I have been in such awe as my students and I continually observed the Decorah Eagles.  We have been observing over the last eight weeks, and this experience has changed us in so many ways!  I know I personally have such a deep profound admiration for these eagles and the hard work and dedication of the parents! My students and I have learned such an incredible amounts of information through our observations and research.  Yesterday, I came upon some wonderful details on the eagles' FaceBook page that helped me to understand the growth and development of the eaglets over the next couple weeks. I thought it was so neat, I decided to post it on our blog.  Thank you so much to the Raptor Resource Project and the Decorah Eagles' Team for making this information available.

Questions of the Week:   When will they (the baby eagles) fly?

"Learning to fly is a process. They are currently wingercizing. This entails flapping their wings and hopping. Late in the wingercizing phase, a gust of wind will lift them accidentally, and they will hover over the nest because their muscles are strong enough to hold their wings in the correct position and their flight feathers are long enough to sustain the lift. Branching comes after that. Branching is defined as a small hop and lift onto the closest branch. Unless there is a panner present at the time, we will not see this first very small journey away from the nest to the branch. Fledge or first self-propelled flight away from and back to the nest tree comes last. The whole process last 10-13 weeks.

Why do the eaglets so often sit at the dangerous edge of the nest looking out rather than stay more safely in the bowl? An eagle lives by perusing the landscape in the hunt for prey, and eaglets have the instinct to do this at an early age, as soon as their eyes can focus and see long distances. It would be abnormal for them not to go up to the edge of the sticks surrounding the bowl and look out. Also by instinct eaglets almost never will wander beyond the sticks, so they are not in danger of falling out. Are the eaglets safe when the parents are not in the nest, especially at night? Perfectly safe. One or both parents will roost on branches nearby and can fly to the nest in an instant if necessary.

What is a pellet? At about 4 weeks of age the eaglets begin eating all parts of the prey including bones, scales, fins, fur, feathers, teeth, etc. Indigestible parts are compressed into a pellet that the eagle then casts back up out of the mouth. An eagle might cast a pellet once a day, usually before eating."

To learn more, check out the Decorah Eagles on FaceBook or YouTube!

Student Leadership and Mentoring at Its Best!

As you wrap up your final days/weeks of school, an easy activity to try is one that will build bridges with possible students you have next year.

This week, I had all three 3rd grade classes set up a time to visit my classroom for my students to share their perspectives about the life of a 4th grader.  The beautiful thing about this activity is my current students were the leaders and communicators of sharing their experiences from this year, not me :)  I divided my students into 5 groups and gave them a topic of discussion to mentor the 3rd graders in, topics such as our technology projects, math and science units, classroom culture, and so much more.  My 4th graders talked as a group to develop their collective ideas and how they wanted to share their ideas.  To help my students feel more at ease, we divided the 3rd graders into small groups and had them rotate through the different 4th grade student groups.  These rising 4th graders learned valuable information to help them be successful next year, and my students learned very beneficial communication and leadership skills.  Even if I do not have some of the students we mentored this week, we still helped each student begin contemplating and anticipating great things for next year.

Give this activity a try!  You'll be so proud of your mentoring students, and your heart will smile as you see them express an enthusiasm and excitement for what they experienced this year.

Here are some pictures and videos from this special time!

Monday, May 21, 2012

HELP! We're Under Attack by Invasive Species!

We're being invaded by INVASIVE SPECIES...they are taking over different regions killing off native plants and animals! Help, we're under attack!!!

We have tons of kudzu in our area, in fact, it's taking over the entire south region of the United States! Just this year, we have begun to see the kudzu bug that has traveled north from Latin American and has now reached us here in Wellford due to our warmer winter temperatures. A positive for the kudzu bug is that it can eat the quickly growing kudzu, but unfortunately this new insect pest is killing other valuable crops necessary for farmers to sell. Currently, there is no know options of how to get rid of kudzu and the kudzu bug without harming other important species!

Below is an electronic book our classes created to help your learn more about these pesky, harmful, and uninvited organisms.

What invasive species does your region have to deal with and how are they harming the local plants and animals around you? We'd love to hear your stories!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

End of the Year Excitement!

All the curriculum has wrapped up, state testing is over, and we're in our last several days of school....I can't believe it! There's such freedom in the exciting times I can plan for my students.

Victoria Falls, Zambia, Africa

Right now we're researching Natural Wonders of the World and my students are experiencing places they have never heard of.  It makes me smile to hear the oooohs and aaaahhs as they observe in fascination destinations far beyond their rural town of Wellford, SC.

The Great Blue Hole, Belize, Central America

Ayers Rock, Australia

From a list of 16 Natural Wonders of the World, students chose their top three locations and later after more research, decided on the one place they would love to visit.  Each student, using their research will be creating part of our Natural Wonders of the World electronic book.  More to come about this activity later.

Another engaging time I am planning is a mentoring times with the 3rd grade students allowing my 4th graders to take on a leadership role to explain "the year of a 4th grader."  This is always a fulfilling time I sit back and listen in pride as I see my students share the excitement of their school year!

What fun activities do you have planned for your students.  How will your students enjoy their remaining time in school?  We would love to hear all about it!

PS. Below was a fantastic bubble competition our science lab teacher, Ms. Carson, set up.  The kids had a blast, and her desks receiving a thorough cleaning.  Enjoy our times of Bubble Bonanza!