Woodridge Elementary hosts a Live Animal Exhibit

DeSoto ISD Woodridge Elementary Campus hosts a Live Animal Student Learning Exhibit
Posted on 10/11/2023
DeSoto ISD Woodridge Elementary Campus hosts a Live Animal Student Learning Exhibit

What do parrots, a possum, a prairie dog, a lizard, and an owl all have in common? They were all present at the Primarily Parrots live animal learning exhibit held for kindergarten through third grade students at DeSoto ISD’s Woodridge Elementary campus in September.

Students had first hand experience with the creatures to learn about their species, their habitats, anatomy, and diet.

Shrieks, squeals of excitement, wide-eyed gazes of engagement permeated the gym as Primarily Parrots owner and presenter Leslie Shindler unveiled each animal to the students who were eager and trying to stay in their seated rows.

These young scholars and their instructors were wowed as they learned about the unique zygodactyl feet of the parrot, heard their voices speak phrases and felt the flutter of their colorful wings as the parrots took flight right over their heads.

More loud gasps of surprise and awe erupted as the students saw the large wingspan of the Eurasian Eagle-owl, its 270-degree head rotation, sensitive ears and nocturnal habits.

Students saw the 3-foot Savannah monitor held in the arms of WRE Campus Principal Demitree Tatum as they learned about its habitat and saw the flickering of its long slender tongue that used to smell, according to Shindler.

According to Woodridge Reading Interventionist, Huma Islam, this experience provides a more connected and in-depth classroom learning experience.

“These types of experiences help students grow in their vocabulary and I am excited to bring them to our campus so our students can grow academically.” said Isalm. “When we talk about reading text and vocabulary, students need to make personal connections and sometimes they are not able to do so. These type of experiences help them to make those connections to words and in the passages of text.”

In the Future-Focused Education article, “The Power of Learning from Experience,” authored by Mary Parr-Sanchez, the president of National Education Association New Mexico, and Rachel Padilla, grant writer for the NEA-NM Center for Community Schools explained that students learn to their fullest capacity when teachers combine two approaches: academic learning (“thematic learning”) and experiential learning (child-friendly, developmentally appropriate service or project-based learning). https://futurefocusededucation.org/2021/09/23/the-power-of-learning-from-experience/

WRE Math interventionists, Tiffanie Dawn agreed that this experiential learning moment will help students draw more accurate conclusions thus enhancing their academic achievement.

“This is a great experience for the students. It can help with teachers with math content instruction like measurements, the weight of the animals and even comparing them like on a bar graph. In science, they can relate to this when learning about vocabulary, the species, habitat of the animals.” said Dawn. “Just the teacher talking about it and students just seeing it or reading it in a book is not the same as getting that real world, up-close experience. A lot of students don’t get this kind of opportunity so this is very important. I am very grateful that students are able to see things that are outside of our community.”

Primarily Parrots is the company of Schindler who takes much pride in this educational aspect of her work and shared the reason for her passion to educate school children and community.

“Our main purpose is to help students learn, educate, grow and fly. We really love educating the next generation with our unique animals. We mainly focus on parrots who are critically endangered or endangered in the wild right now. We hope to inspire students so that they may help preserve animals so that they do not go extinct from this earth,”said Shindler who previously owned a zoo, has a degree in animal science and owns a small aviary. “It is a great time because lots of kids have not seen these types of animals up close.”

The vision of DeSoto ISD is to inspire curiosity and consciousness, develop character, build courage, and nurture compassion. This student experience also aligns with the district’s mission that all students, without exception, achieve their highest levels - or as the researchers say - their fullest capacities.

WRE Principal Demitree Tatum reflected on this exciting time for students and even staff.

“The program was very informative and students were engaged and participating in the activities and conversations with the speaker. They were excited the whole time, and this will be something they will remember about Woodridge. At WRE we don’t limit ourselves in the Triple-A Experience.”

Learn More About DeSoto ISD and the Triple-A Experience at www.desotoisd.org.