Thursday, September 1, 2011

Belle at School

Belle went to school yesterday. I have referenced horses and used horse pictures, skulls, hoof cuttings, but never actually hauled a horse to school before. I did have my homeroom students go to the barn shortly after Lady was born, but that was just to show off and we picked up trash along the road as a service project, not exactly part of an offical lesson plan. I work with At-Risk kids at an alternative school. I have about as many kids total as I used to have in just one class. I cannot just supply all of the information needed to pass the government tests and hope that they will succeed. I have to try and teach them how to learn and to enjoy learning new things. School started last week. I built up this visit from my pride and joy. I saw big tough kids get all stupid about how tough they are and that they were going to jump on and ride off with her. I saw kids pretend indifference to the concept of a horse at school.

Reality? It was the best day of the year. (ok, it was only day 6, but it was awesome!!!) Some students were shocked at just how big she is. Some were surprised that she wasn't bigger (she is a small Clydesdale). Only two students with previous bad experiences with horses would not approach her. My Integrated Science classes worked on accuracy and precision in measuring and calculations. This is a skill that as I pointed out to them can have costly repurcussions. If I order the wrong blanket, harness, bridle, bit, etc. Often, they can not be sent back after trying them out on the horse due to the horse hair. We also used measurements to estimate Belle's weight. I pointed out that if she is under or over wormed, due to inaccurate estimations, it is not a good thing. We read her grain label, figured out how much feed she should be receiving, and weighed out how much a quart of feed weighs. I had them pack a loose quart and a tightly packed quart and demonstrated how that will change the weight and density. (we did not go into mass on that day) They also got to pet her, and feed her treats. My animal science class had to actually point out the external anatomy for a quiz. They also all got to feel her chestnuts, hooves and lift up a hoof to demonstrate cleaning. I was surprized how many of them had never been that close to a horse. They got to feel how hard her face is and feel where the cartiladge meets the bone on her nose. It was pretty cool to see the looks of wonder on the kids' faces. None of my students acted inappropriate (other than cussing in surprise on occassion when she moved or shifted her weigh, or swung her head around to look at them better) In Zoology, we discussion the evolution of the horse and the evidence of vestigial toes. We also discussed the pecking order of a herd.
It was an awesome day (I know that I keep saying that, but it was cool)
Belle was nervous at first, but settled right down and carefully and graciously took treats from them. It was cool (yep, I said it again)
No pics due to student confidentiality, but Belle was a big success. I can't wait to use the other animals and ponies for class.