Susan Kosko has been a reading support teacher in the Carlynton School District
’s Crafton Elementary School for 11 years, but this year is different: "The kids run into my classroom and they'll say, 'Is it time to leave already?'” – all thanks to some dolphins who live off the coast of Florida.
Kosko’s 17 second, third and fourth graders are taking part in the Dolphin Project
, Skyping with the crew of The Dolphin Explorer
boat as it tours the eco-system and wildlife of the faraway state’s ocean environment – especially the dolphins.
The idea originated when Kosko discovered the Explorer on vacation and collaborated with its crew to devise the program. Her students read the book Winter's Tail ... How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again
and keep a journal of their twice-weekly virtual marine explorations.
"In the past, I could never get my students to read a chapter book," she says; now they’re reading them regularly. Apart from the kids’ enthusiasm – which is a “priceless” aid to reading skills in itself, she says – Kosko reports that her young charges have made gains in both reading and math skills on standardized tests since the dolphins swam into their lives. "When I go down into the computer lab to support my students, I've noticed a lot of them are always choosing dolphins to research. They're almost becoming the experts” in helping other students learn how to research, she adds.
She hopes the project will appear soon on Good Morning America
, or WTAE’s segment of the program, since she got a positive reaction to a video about the project that she sent to the show. She and the Carnegie Elementary School teacher who is also running a Dolphin Project in her own classroom hope one day to take the kids to see the dolphins in person.
Meanwhile, Kosko says, the boat’s personnel "truly make us feel we're a part of the team. I don't think I'll find a team of people who are so good with the students. As a teacher, I'm learning from them. I hope in the future we can continue to work together."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Susan Kosko, Carlynton School District