SES teachers use annual trip to create an interactive class project

SES teachers use annual trip to create an interactive class project

Two Scottsburg Elementary School teachers took a typical field trip to the zoo and turned it into an experience that students will likely not forget.

Using the backdrop of the annual first-grade field trip to the Louisville Zoo, teachers Kala Cudjoe and Amy Hubbard discovered a way to meet their science standards and keep their students’ interest at the same time. As she was planning the annual trip, Cudjoe noticed a new animal adoption program the zoo offered. From there, Cudjoe and Hubbard planned a project that included their students adopting animals, fundraising, using technology, creating a book, and building a habitat for the animals they adopted.

“We wanted to do this because it fit perfectly with our science standards. First-graders have made habitat dioramas for the last few years, but this project gave them a real purpose and an authentic audience. They had to learn and work in order to help the Louisville Zoo. The students were thoroughly engaged the entire time,” Cudjoe said.

“This was a great opportunity for students to be introduced to researching, use technology to create a book, and create a project of their choice by making a poster, diorama, picture collage, or build a habitat in Toca Builders to present what they learned,” Hubbard added.

By visiting the zoo and doing a little research, the first-grade students were able to learn firsthand about animals they might want to adopt. Cudjoe said her class even exchanged a few emails with a Louisville Zoo animal expert about the animals and adoption process. The classes received a formal letter asking the students to adopt an animal and build a habitat for the animal from the zoo.

“As a class, we voted on what animals to adopt. My class adopted a grizzly bear and a zebra. Mrs. Cudjoe’s class and my class together adopted an anaconda,” Hubbard said.

“Mrs. Cudjoe’s class adopted a meerkat and a polar bear. Some students wanted to learn about dolphins, so we allowed a few students to research the dolphin even though we were not able to adopt one from the Louisville Zoo,” Cudjoe said. “The biggest challenge was deciding what animals we were going to adopt. Each class opened up a Canvas discussion to allow the students to share their thoughts. We ended up tallying up the students’ choices.”

After the adoption animals were selected, the students collected photographs and research information to create their books using an app called Book Creator. The books were later printed off to display in the first-grade hallway, so other students could learn about the animals after the project was completed. The students also created a poster, diorama, or a picture collage in an app. Some students used an app, Toca Builders, to build a habitat. Toca Builders is an app that is similar to Minecraft, where the users build anything their imagination allows, brick by brick.

“We then displayed our finished projects in the hallway for others to critique and learn from, so they had an authentic audience,” Hubbard said.

During the height of the project, the classes hosted a Word-a-thon to raise money to donate toward their animal adoptions. Parents and guardians pledged money for every sight word their student could read. The amount could be from one penny to 50 cents per word. The classes also asked the community for pledges and invited parents and adults to join the students for the Word-a-thon.

“We played music, had snacks, and danced in-between sets of words. We even had balloon animals,” Cudjoe said. “Thirty-six students and 18 adults participated in the Word-a-thon. Combined the students read over 3,200 words.”

The students raised more than $400 during the Word-a-thon for the animals they adopted.

“The money went to the Animals Depend On People To Survive program at the zoo,” Hubbard said. “The money is used to help feed and care for the animals. The Louisville Zoo is a not-for-profit zoo, and many of the animals at the zoo are rescued from poor conditions.”

For adopting each animal, the Louisville Zoo sent the classes a stuffed animal that resembles the adopted animal, a pin with a picture of the animal, and a certificate.

“There were many benefits to completing this project: we raised money for a good cause, learned about different types of habitats, how to research and write an informational piece, worked with others, explored technology, and challenged ourselves,” Hubbard said. “The only challenge was that we couldn’t adopt every animal! The students were so proud and excited that they wished they could help support the zoo even more!”

By taking an annual field trip and turning it into a meaningful, impactful project is what sets Scott 2 apart from other schools. At Scott County School District 2, the first-grade class’ story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.