Birdwatching as a team sport

above: a Nursery student proudly shows off a bird-feeder photo that his grandparent shared with the class

A progressive school like Gordon recognizes that children learn best when their lessons are grounded in their daily experience, with authentic connections to each student's worlds.

A case study: Nursery students have been busily studying birds, and they reached out to grandparents, family friends, and the people that surround them to draw them into, and amplify, the conversation. As always, reading and writing are part of every lesson, with plenty of books around to refer to.


above: Nursery students have been watching a nest outside their classroom window as well as an osprey's nest via webcam

The Nursery team shares their top ten things you need to know about birding:

1. Nursery has been receiving bird-related letters, notes and emails from all over America about their grandfriends' connections with birds.

2. Former Gordon science teacher Jacqui Ketner has been sending letters about birds she sees to Nursery. They are delivered by Gordon's mail carrier Courtney Cacchiotti, who Preschool befriended earlier this year, and then they are walked to Nursery by Kim O'Donnell.


above: a science teacher includes bird questions in each of her notes to Nursery

3. Nursery have written their own notes back to Jacqui. They answer the questions that she poses in her letters. 

4. Jacqui Ketner, Nursery's "Birder on the Go," has given a virtual field trip to Ms. Trant's class to talk about the osprey nest at Osamequin Nature Preserve in Barrington RI. (as she says, "This spot is close, extremely little kid friendly, and the nest is close enough that you don't need binoculars. Easy parking, short walk.")

above: poop, worms and a nest full of siblings - My Happy Year by Paul Meisel does not shy away from the more sensational details of a young bird's life

5. In a few days, Birder on the Go Jacqui Ketner will be inviting Ms. Barson-Morcos class to a virtual field trip at Caratunk to watch the swallows swooping.

6. The interest in ospreys grew out of their viewing of the Conanicut Osprey nest on their live cam. Students predict that the eggs will hatch next week?


above: a Nursery student brought in the birding books that her mother used when she was a child

7. April Pulley Sayre, Gordon's 2010 Karla Harry Visiting Author, sent three pictures from her house and pond in Indiana. They are beautiful and our students recognize the power of her wildlife photography from her many books that are in the Gordon library.

8. There are all sorts of connections between pictures of nesting birds and birds that students know. Two grandfriends in different parts of North America sent pictures of nesting doves in funny places. One in a basket hanging from a porch and one in a compressor?


above: ask a Nursery student - after learning so much about birds, do you have a new favorite bird?

9. Students have a class notebook that they call their Nature Noticings book for when they find something on the playground.

10. We all have favorite birds and everyone has a bird story. Some grandfriends even have stories about birds they knew when they were little.


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