2013 Year in Review: Mrs. Matheson, Cam in the Classroom Teacher

It’s time to look back on 2013! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2013 from the staff, students, and volunteers of the Wildlife Center.

It is staggering to think that my association with WCV is approaching three years. While I have physically been to the Center only one time, I do visit it virtually every day, watching the Critter Cams or checking out the website. Amanda [the Director of Outreach] and I continually email each other and there are times when I think she must cringe when she sees an email from me with all the strange questions and requests I have made over the years: patient number for education kestrel Edie, important dates in Pignoli the screech-owl’s life, and how many bags of ‘bear stuff’ are removed from the enclosures each day, to name a few.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has become such an integral part of my teaching; it’s amazing to think that I taught without it! Obviously, writing is the easiest way to incorporate the knowledge that my students learn, while practicing their writing techniques -- narrative, persuasive, and expository. Reading has also provided an avenue as well, especially in learning about an author’s purpose for writing, functional text, and graphic organizers. And one subject not to be forgotten is math. I create many WCV-based review problems and every Friday, my students and I post a math word problem for “Critter Nation” to solve on the moderated discussion. The problem is the same one my students are solving in class.

While reflecting on this past year, two “events” come to mind, and while they don’t involve being at WCV, they certainly wouldn’t have happened without my association with this organization. The first one occurred during in early 2013, when my third-graders came up with their suggestions for naming a new education Barred Owl. They were a little bummed that they had to come up with a ‘girl’ name. Their first choice was Ralph S. Mouse, for the title character from the Beverly Cleary books, which we were reading in class. They thought it was pretty clever, considering the raptors eat mice. One of my students, Isabela, came up with “Virginia” (aka Ginny) since that is where the owl lives. When we found out that her name was one of the top five selected, we were amazed. Although the owl eventually became known as Athena, I can tell you that there is one young lady who insists on calling her Ginny.

This 2013-2014 school year included a change in schools for me, along with a grade change. Upon my arrival at Sunrise Elementary, one of the first things I did was explain to my principal about WCV, Critter Cam, and Cam in the Classroom (I haven’t figured out a way to explain Critter Nation to her yet). This is where the second memorable event happened. During our October “Cam in the Classroom” session, our principal Ms. Flatten was in attendance (she was in the computer lab with us). I was nervous about this, knowing how our computer lab can be ‘finicky’ at times. I had posted our questions a little earlier so I could troubleshoot if there were any glitches. The question “Do you have any bunny patients?” came up and Amanda posted the answer along with a photo of a rabbit patient, complete with a dot on the forehead. This immediately prompted the question, “Why does it have a dot on its head?” I proceeded to explain that it was for identification purposes. As I walk past Collin, he announced, “This is a girl bunny.” Being a teacher, I know I should have known better, but I asked the question anyway: “How do you know it’s a girl bunny?” He happily announces, “I looked into her eyes.” I thought Ms. Flatten was going to fall off her chair, she was laughing so hard. I laughed myself and told him that that wasn’t how you could tell boys from girls. I’m just thankful that everyone was so engrossed in the session that no one bothered to ask me for more specific details!

There are many other “little moments”, but these two immediately came to mind. I look forward to another year of memorable WCV-inspired moments in my classroom and on the Critter Cam.


Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!

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