Students in the READ 180 program at Ray Middle School recently participated in a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo that included a video conference with a zoo educator.
READ 180 is a reading program that provides intensive intervention for students who are reading below their grade level.
The field trip and conference were part of a large research project, "To the Zoo and Beyond," that students have been engrossed in to improve their comprehension skills and to build on their academic strengths as they use written resources, visual media and databases, and perform Internet-based research to produce a written report. The project was made possible with an OCM BOCES School Library System grant that Ray Middle School's library media specialist, Darlene St. John, and reading teacher Cherrill Scuderi, were awarded earlier in the school year.
Students prepared and sent questions to the zoo educator prior to the video conference. Each student generated questions by examining the information he or she had gathered on a particular animal to determine if the research lacked essential facts still needed to write a thorough report on the animal. During the video conference, students were able to directly ask the zoo educator questions and receive a live, immediate answer.
Teacher Cherrill Scuderi said her students were very eager to have their questions answered in person, and they enjoyed seeing several animals, including a parrot and an armadillo, on their virtual field trip. She said that a day after the field trip students were so enthusiastic about what they learned that they left for spring break thinking about school.
Ray Middle School students participate in a video conference with an educator from the San Diego Zoo.