The University of Illinois Wildlife Society
If there is one thing I am known for around my school. it is probably my strong support of literacy. If there is another thing I am known for, it is probably that I almost always wear a tie. But if we make a list of the top five things I’m known for, I hope that somewhere on that list is my willingness to bring in guests from the community to share their areas of expertise with my students. In the past, we’ve had guests from the local nuclear power company, university researchers, professional poets, musicians, and even a taekwondo demonstration.
So it probably isn’t a surprise that when I got an email from the Education Outreach Chair of the University of the Illinois Wildlife Society forwarded by our building volunteer coordinator asking if I was interested in the Wildlife Society visiting my room, I jumped on the opportunity. I emailed back and told her about our science ecology unit and asked if they had any materials that would apply. She assured me that she did and, after exchanging several emails, we worked out a plan for them to come visit this afternoon. Three other teachers in the building were also interested in having the Wildlife Society visit, so I coordinated everything for four classrooms.
I think the visits went well, at least with my class. My students got a little rowdy during a transition period, but quickly settled down when the next presenters came in. There were four presentations altogether, rotated through two classrooms at fifteen-minute intervals. Each class was divided into two groups. The presentations included one on insects, one on habitats, one on Illinois birds, and one on Illinois mammals. The Wildlife Society folks brought in specimen samples to go along with the presentations, although only the insects were live (grasshoppers and Madagascar hissing cockroaches). Many of the students took advantage of the opportunity to hold a live cricket, which they described as either terrifying, awesome, or both. t was a fantastic way to wrap up our first science unit.