Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reflection

For so many years beginnings and endings in my life have been set by a school year rather than the calendar year. I find I'm still influenced by the close of another school year even though I work year round. The end of another school year calls for reflection. It's time to remember the challenges, successes and failures of the year. Time for decisions about modifications or improvements in actions. Time to use the learning experience and focus on the next opportunity. It is time to mark progress and set new goals. I started this post a couple of weeks ago, then read a similar post by Two Writing Teachers. They answered these reflections: I learned... I was stretched by... I'm excited about... I'm beginning to realize... I used their starters and wrote the following: I learned that I enjoy getting teachers and students to start a journal. I was stretched by learning to use Twitter and starting a blog. I'm excited about using technology to connect with many teachers. I'm beginning to realize it's not the technology but the teacher that creates the lesson. One goal I have for next year is to demonstrate conservation education lessons in the classrooms. A couple of personal goals I have are to write every day and make a trip to the beach. I plan to try the suggestion from Ted Talks and try to write every day for the next 30 days. http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cecropia Moth

Cecropia or Robin Moth

I was so excited to find this beautiful but dead moth on the ground. It was a very windy day so I grabbed the moth before the wind could blow it away. The next thing I did was place it between two layers of bubble wrap and cardboard. I wanted to pin it so I could use to show students. The fragile feathery antenna were already breaking off. That is a good way to classify the insect as a moth rather than a butterfly. Most butterflies have long, slender antenna and moths have antenna that resembles a fine feather. 

As soon as I got inside, I went straight to look up the insect in a resource guide. It was easy to spot in the moth section of the field guide. I found that it is a Cecropia or Robin Moth that feeds on more than 20 different species of Missouri trees and shrubs. Some common trees and shrubs that I have in my yard include willow, plum, box elder, soft maple and lilac. These moths are usually found from April to June and range in size from 3.75 to 6 inches. This one measured 6 1/2 inches!

The female is the largest Lepidoptera in North America. The life span is two weeks or less. From 3:00 am to sunrise, the female releases pheromones to attract a mate. This species will overwinter in the pupa stage. 

I'm not sure which task was more difficult: to get a good photo with my camera or to create a watercolor. Both require skill and talent, as you can see, I am an unskilled beginner at both tasks. I've been an amateur photographer for years, but recently bought a complicated DLSR camera. I have much to learn. I also love children's art so I wanted to attempt the project. It was a good starting place for me. 


Watercolor

Monday, May 7, 2012

Birding

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Do you have a life list of birds you have seen? I don't, but maybe I should start one.

Recently I was privileged to host a group of Master Naturalists on Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. We started early one morning on the hunt for migratory birds. Serious birders can identify these songbirds by their songs and calls. I have learned to recognize a few by listening to the song.  I heard "ee o lay"  and knew it was the melodic sound of the Wood Thrush.  Later I heard a familiar call, "drink your tee" from the  Eastern Towhee.

During a lunch break one member of the group asked how to improve the skill of birding by ear. It helps if you can begin to recognize a bird you are sure to see in your area. Purchase a field guide and look for the range map of a songbird. Apps are available to help you hear the call and see pictures of birds. Audubon and others make cds that help you become familiar with the calls of songbirds. Going with birders to listen on a early morning walk can be a great way to get started. Don't be overwhelmed, start with a couple birds and add others as you become comfortable in your knowledge.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Box Turtles are on the move.

In my travels today I encountered lots of the turtles trying to cross the road. Some were successful while others were not. Turtles can be difficult to avoid with busy traffic. Remember to be aware and watch out for them. When I returned home, I read in the May, 2012, Missouri Conservationist magazine that male turtles are on the move because they are looking for food, water and courtship. Turtles are creatures of habit and comfortable in their home range. If you try to help a turtle get across the road, make sure you place it in its direction of travel because the turtle is determined to stay within its home range.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sense of Wonder

What influences someone to become a lifelong learner? I think it requires being a bit curious about your environment. Interest in the bigger world seems to influence what we notice and learn about. Can this interest be developed? I think it can. Asking questions and looking for answers can be an established pattern in children. Toward this goal we should look for opportunities to explore and ask questions. Outdoors is such a great place to begin. Rachel Carson wrote about developing the sense of wonder in children. Simply put, take children outside and begin to notice what is occurring all around. Be observant and curious.

A morning at Pre-school