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FSU Panama City Campus Elementary Education Class Hosts Successful Whale Day

Article courtesy of FSU Panama City campus website

Wednesday, April 24 was Whale Day at FSU Panama City.  Elementary education instructor, Cristina Rios conceived of Whale Day in 2007 as a way to demonstrate teaching methods that not only convey information but entertain as well.

Students from Rios’ Teaching Second Language (TSL) class teach elementary school students from the Panama City Advanced School about whales. TSL 4080 instructs soon to be educators in methods on how to interact and communicate with young people whose native tongue is not English. Rios uses a variety of didactic techniques to help student educators develop successful interactive curriculum.

There are many whale species with their own behaviors and ways of communicating as there are many children of different backgrounds, cultures and languages in the learning environment. Student educators are challenged to effectively

communicate with these children and engage them in the learning process.

“There are whales found in every ocean in the world, in the same way we have children from different nationalities, and it is very interesting to find out that they [whales] communicate too,” said Rios. “Language is very important.”

For this class project, students demonstrated interactive learning using conservation as their subject. The class created posters describing whale behavior and divided the subjects up into stations that the students from the Panama City Advanced School toured. Each station had an interactive component in addition to an academic message. Rios’ classes work in conjunction with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and have adopted ten whales since the relationship began in 2007. The WDCS was established in 1987 and is the “leading charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales and dolphins (also known as cetaceans).”

Children were able to skim dried krill in a tub of water using a comb to simulate how baleen whales filter zooplankton in order to eat. They also used tongs to grab gummie fish in a tub of water to simulate the eating habits of toothed whales like killer whales. Another station demonstrated whale swimming behavior including breaching, spyhopping, lobtailing and slapping. Children were able to mirror these behaviors with a toy whale in a container of water. Rios’ class was very creative in developing fun facts and interactive activities to engage the children for an hour and a half.

The finale was juice and cupcakes. Of course, the cupcakes were placed in the shape of a whale! Cups of snacks that looked like zooplankton rounded out the snacks.

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