For Elkhorn Elementary School Fifth Grade Multiple Subject Teacher Dr. Adrianne Go-Miller, a virtual classroom also means virtual study trips. Go-Miller successfully executed the Salmon in the Classroom Project, to teach her students about their local watershed and its impact on waterways. This is a collaborative effort sponsored by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Delta Fly Fishers, City of Lodi, Carter’s Pet Mart in Stockton, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). This year, CDFW allowed educators in distance learning to have tanks in their homes to make it easy to present to students virtually. And for Go-Miller’s case, it was conducted from her garage – not even a pandemic can stop her from giving students the study trip experience!
The CDFW series can be found here:
“Raising salmon in the classroom allows student scholars an opportunity to not only learn about the fascinating life cycle of Chinook salmon but more importantly, to become stewards of our environment. One of the projects in which they collaborate (in-person and now in distance learning) is called Save the Salmon. After researching and learning about watersheds, the life cycle of Chinook salmon, and local waterways, student scholars are presented with a project-based learning experience in which they must save the salmon run. Scholars must choose between a severe flood or severe drought scenario and problem solve how to best help the salmon run,” said Go-Miller.
For Go-Miller, one year into the pandemic has been a moment to practice an “innovator’s mindset.” Whatever needs to happen, educators have proven to go above and beyond to make it work.
“My favorite thing about teaching is finding new ways to challenge students and seeing their eyes light up with discovery. Even in a distance learning environment, Zoom squares can’t take away my ability to see students’ excitement for learning or their curiosity about the way things work.”
“You can hear the excitement in their voices, and you can see their enthusiasm in the chat; it’s not the same as being in-person, but I can tell that they’ve been excited to watch the alevin (juvenile fish) develop. Recently, we observed many alevin swimming around the tank and students even observed the growth of tail fins!” said Go-Miller.
When asked if she has any more virtual study trips coming up, Go-Miller proudly said, “Our next virtual study trip is to the California Museum on March 5, where we will participate in the virtual Time of Remembrance program. The program is about Japanese American survivors of the incarceration during WWII, and it includes a live Zoom session with a docent. We are also reading Journey to Topaz, a novel that correlates with the topic. We have been joining in the California Academy of Sciences webinar series, Life in a Museum, where scholars are learning about the power of observation. We are also participating in Magnitude.io’s Exolab project aboard the International Space Station. The fifth graders will conduct legume experiments at home with the kits provided by Magnitude.io. Finally, a scientist from Lawrence Livermore Lab will be joining us through their Scientist in the Classroom program in April.”
The adoration Go-Miller has for her students is so inspiring, and it is just one story of the thousands of devoted educators across California. At the beginning of each class, Go-Miller spends the first 20 minutes checking in with her students. Her students live throughout the Lodi Unified School District in North Stockton and Lodi. She hosts Shares and Celebrations, where student scholars share what is going on in their lives in addition to sharing their gratitude. Though the pandemic has taken a toll on some students emotionally and mentally, Go-Miller always finds ways to check in on her students and ensure they stay connected.