by Aviva Engel, Director of Communications
You might say they had an unbeelievable time. Grade 1A and B students were abuzz with excitement on Tuesday when they visited a 150-acre farm all the way in Cockeysville, Maryland, in anticipation of Rosh Hashana. The virtual field trip didn’t require packing suitcases or even leaving their classrooms, for that matter; but the children were well-prepared for the adventure, thanks to their English teachers Leona Lands and Renee Pervin, and Director of English Studies and Technology Integration Elyse Haber.
The visit was made possible thanks to Morah Elyse who arranged the Skype lesson, called “Let’s get buzzing about bees”, via Microsoft Education, an online tool dedicated to “creating immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills and supporting teachers in guiding and nurturing student passions.”
As part of Hebrew Academy’s 21st century learning initiatives, Mrs. Haber regularly assists Elementary teachers of all departments to integrate technology into their classrooms. “Skype lessons give us an opportunity to open up our classes and learn from experts beyond our classroom walls,” she noted.
After weeks of learning all about bees with Mrs. Lands and Ms. Renee – exploration that included watching videos, reading Patricia Polacco’s The Bee Tree, counting bee hives as part of their “20th Day of School” celebration and creating bee hats which they wore for the event, the students were ready for the big day. At 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the kids – seated on the floor in the darkened classroom, wide-eyed and glued to the screen at the front of the class – eagerly waited to connect with the person at the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) farm.
And when she appeared, the children were delighted. For the next 30 minutes, MARC Educator Pam Purce captivated the students with a presentation about bees, beekeeping and the honey-making process, and even gave a little tour of the giant farm, which also raises chickens, sheep, goats and various crops. The kids asked questions, and some even took turns sharing their personal experiences with bees and beehives.
“I liked the bee lesson,” said Yeshoshua Kossin, of 1B, who had a front-row view of the screen. “It was interesting to see everything that bees can do.”
For these six- and seven-year olds, the most remarkable part of the fun lesson was that they got to visit a “far-away” farm and meet a real beekeeper. As for doing it virtually, that’s just commonplace; they’ve been Skyping at Hebrew Academy since Kindergarten, after all.
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