Ridley Payne, a fifth-grader at the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf, poses with a T-shirt featuring a drawing he made of an elephant. The shirt will be worn by all students from the school during a trip to the North Carolina Zoo on Monday.
Drew C. Wilson | Times
Students from the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf will visit the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro May 22. They posed in front of a life-size giraffe they made.
Drew C. Wilson | Times
By Drew C. Wilson
Times Satff Writer
The world’s most exotic animals will come to life when students from the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf visit the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro on Monday.
Teacher Rebecca Hicks wrote a grant through DonorsChoose that raised $635 to fund the visit to the world’s largest habitat zoo.
The 24 students and 12 staff members were supposed to make the trip on April 27, but the recent flood forced a postponement.
According to Chelsea Cashion, upper elementary academic teacher, the visit is part of a multi-discipline teaching project for the children, ages 5 to 12, who will be visiting the zoo.
“It was pretty much across-the-curriculum teaching in trying to incorporate those 21st century thinking skills, research skills and informational texts,” Cashion said.
The students decided as a group what animal they wanted to study.
“We picked a giraffe for our zoo project, and I modeled my expectations of the research. They had to use three different resources. They had to use the internet, a book and some type of article that I had preselected,” Cashion said. “We all came together and did the big circle map and put our ideas down about what they wanted to learn and then they had to write a five-paragraph paper.”
The result was a series of life-sized animal portraits created by the students.
“Some of the kids did an otter. Our kindergarten kids did penguins. They talked about comparing the size with a human, and they were reading little informational text passages,” Cashion said. “Our second grade did a snake. Two of my students did a bird. They did a Victoria crowned pigeon and a crested wood partridge. Our life skills kids did a monkey and an a baby panda bear. These are all animals that are at the zoo.”
For Cashion’s class, students assembled a life-size, 15-foot-tall giraffe.
“I wanted our kids to visually see the size because researching it, I don’t think that they would get a good glimpse of it. I wanted them to see it,” Cashion said. “When we started putting it together, it started clicking how big he really is; so now they are super excited.”
A maintenance staffer had to get involved to hang the big giraffe with a tall ladder.
The school decided that it would be a good idea to make the group unique T-shirts that could be worn on the trip to the zoo.
All of the kids were asked to draw a zoo animal, and the resulting art was judged.
Fifth-grader Ridley Payne drew a picture of an elephant.
“It is very detailed, and the judges loved it so they chose the picture as our winner,” Cashion said.
The T-shirts were printed with Ridley’s drawing on the front of every shirt.
“I like elephants. They squirt water on people,” said Ridley, who is really looking forward to the trip.
“They are so excited. They have been looking forward to this trip,” said teacher Inether Brown. “We’ve been working towards it, viewing things on the internet. We’ve looked at the zoo website. They have everything ready. Their backpacks are hanging, waiting to go.”
Brown said seeing the animals with their own eyes will be a valuable educational experience.
“You’re actually getting out into the real environment. It’s a real life experience,” Brown said. “It’s one thing to talk about it in the classroom, but when you go out there and you are experiencing it, it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s just exciting. It brings it to life for them.”
May 15-21 is Deaf Awareness Week, with a purpose of raising understanding of deaf issues.
“That’s another reason I want our kids out there and feature their activities,” Cashion said.
She wants people to know that when they look at ENCSD kids they need to realize they are just like any other children.
“You think of deaf and hard of hearing and you think of disability, and our kids are like any other kids,” Cashion said. “They have special talents and special areas where they are very skilled, and we like to showcase that.”