It is everyone’s loss that some very gifted children remain unknown and unseen due to a lack of advocacy, access, and affirmation. As a gifted and talented resource teacher in a high poverty school near Washington DC, I teach a very special group of second and third grade children who we call Young Scholars.
These students, because of ethnicity, socio-economic status, or family background are underrepresented in gifted programs. That's where we step in and provide them with enriched academic experiences that other children would get through after school classes and camps-- opportunities our kids would never be able to afford.
Last year we began to use the woodland area next to our school playground as an outdoor classroom. It became our learning place and students were so excited to spend more and more time outdoors learning about life cycles, habitats, wildlife and plants. This year we're taking them back to our school forest for more environmental learning. An environmental specialist from our community has agreed to help us. We want to use technology to capture what the kids want to know. So we need digital cameras to take pictures and email her our questions and the photos. Like the time we wondered what those neatly drilled holes in the oak tree were. They turned out to be the holes of the Yellow-Bellied Sap-sucker! Really!! It's a woodpecker! It was pecking around looking for food. We want to use technology in an authentic, realistic way and get our questions answered.
We haven't got access to cameras yet but we would be able to write her often with pictures of our findings. Last year, I borrowed a camera and we took pictures of dreys, those are squirrel nests. Did you know squirrels live in nests like birds do? It was so exciting to see the kids taking the pictures. The camera even had a zoom that took us high up into the trees. The zoom helped us see better. With cameras we can record our findings, add pictures to our nature journals, make closer observations, and send photos to the expert environmentalist. This will improve our writing in a realistic way because we can then describe what we saw, where it was, and what exactly we want to know. It will be so exciting! These kids would never get the chance to use digital cameras in such an integrated way combining science, environmental studies, writing, and computer technology! This would probably be the ONLY time they would get to use these technologies.
Right now, in our workforce, 65% of jobs involve using technology. Without these hands-on experiences, what chance will they have competing against other students who have grown up with computers, digital cameras, and the like? Your help has the power of leveling the playing field for these unacknowledged gifted children. With cameras, you will be creating opportunities for our kids to tell their stories, capture their visions, share their moments, and feel the exhilaration of 1000 words in a picture.
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