A Reptile in Her Hands: Confidence and Experiential Learning
At the Washington School for Girls, we value experiential learning and the opportunity for students to be active participants in the classroom. When we adopted the balanced calendar model over seven years ago, we created two weeks of additional experiential learning time called “Intersession” which takes place one week at a time before our fall and spring breaks.
At the end of March, students participated in a week full of field trips, outdoor activities, and collaborative learning. Students went on off-campus adventures to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Arboretum. On campus, they completed art projects, worked together to solve escape room puzzles, and had a blast playing bubble soccer.
One of the most exciting experiences of the week was a visit from Mr. Walter (My Reptile Guys) who brought a menagerie of snakes, lizards, turtles, and even a tarantula for an interactive meet and greet. For several hours, students learned the basics of each animal and had the opportunity to touch and hold them. As the session progressed, students became more comfortable and confident interacting with the animals, and by the end of the morning almost all students had conquered any fears they had brought with them. For middle school students, this activity was a chance for them to expand their learning about reptiles: earlier this year, the science lab acquired a bearded dragon who lives at school and is cared for by 6-8th graders.