There are a lot of resources out there for getting youngsters interested in bird watching. But one wonders how can we engage students within formal educational setups, namely, schools in bird watching. Large class sizes, restrictions in outdoor activities, students’ varying interests, teachers’ own motivation and pre-requisite knowledge about birds and many other factors can hinder how bird watching activities are practised in schools.
We made an attempt on how a teacher can go about this by breaking down a simple bird watching exercise into parts. This is presented as a learning unit in a 4-part series which appeared in Teacher Plus magazine.
Part 1: Why study birds?
This section talks about the implicit and explicit learnings and values one gains through bird watching. It also gives the background information that sets the tone as to why would one want to engage in bird watching.
Part 2: Discover, describe and draw birds
This section lays out the lesson plan for the teacher, bit by bit. It gives an idea of how much time a teacher may require, what instructions to give students, what can be expected from students and pointers for teachers.
Part 3: Handouts for students
This section has handouts we developed as a guiding material for students who are being initiated into the activity. For example, when you ask students to observe a bird for 5 minutes, you are likely to get a response that the bird just sat on that tree for 5 minutes and then flew away. Now, how do we get students to direct their attention to other facets? Was the bird preening while sitting? Was the bird restless? Where was the bird perched? The handouts are aimed at giving direction to students during their observation tasks. This section also lists existing resources around birdwatching.
Note: Please feel free to download these handouts and use them. I would greatly appreciate your feedback on how these handouts can be improved.
Part 4: A fancy for flight
This section gives an idea on how can bird observation exercises be extended and scaled to different age groups. It also addresses questions teachers may have during the implementation of a bird watching activity.
The learning unit was developed as part of the “Vigyan Pratibha” project at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR. The unit has been trialed several times in schools (with teachers and students) and is constantly updated based on feedback received from students and teachers. For updated information on this unit, visit https://vp.hbcse.tifr.res.in
I welcome feedback from all of you!
Education birds birdwatching citizenscience edchat educhat environmentalstudies environmenteducation observation observationskills observenature reconnect schooleducation teacherplus wildlifewatch wildllife
My name is Adithi Muralidhar. I am a nature enthusiast based in Mumbai, India.