“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." Kate DiCamillo
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
SLICE OF LIFE
I am a literacy coach.
I love my job, but once in a while I wish I had my own class.
Take yesterday for example.
A perfect, perfect, perfect fall day.
Blue, blue, blue sky.
I am on the kindergarten playground, refereeing the lunch recess "football game."
Mostly that means I count to ten and yell "first down" at random moments.
First down means it's someone else's turn to hold the ball while the rest of team runs from one end of the field to the other to make a touch down.
We are mid-game, when L runs screaming from the swings.
"Teacher, you have to come. You have to come come."
I follow her, wondering what I will see. These requests come often and can refer to anything from a bloody nose to a ball stuck in a tree or a child who needs to be talked down from the top of the jungle gym.
Today it is a bug.
A bright green bug.
A bright green leaf-shaped bug.
"Look teacher," says L. "Look. That leaf has legs."
I squat down next to her. Soon we are joined by four or five more kindergarten friends.
F wants to squash the bug. I tell him that we are scientists watching, and scientists don't squash bugs.
We count the legs.
F counts two. L says, "No, there are four."
I point out the long back legs. Two pairs of shorter legs. We count again.
The group grows to ten.
K suggests we should bury the bug in wood chips.
I tell her that scientists don't bury bugs. She flicks one or two chips questioningly but stops when I give her my best teacher stink eye.
The creature jumps. Half of the kindergarten scientists run away screaming, then come back.
The group grows to 15 scientists. I wonder how the poor bug, minding its own business until a few minutes ago, feels about being surrounded by a group of scientists.
We notice the bulging eyes. The antennae. Talk about how the bug's color and shape help it hide from predators.
I wish we had clipboards, so the scientists could make note of their observations.
Our specimen jumps again and again, half of the scientists scream and run away.
This time our buggy friend lands on D's shoe, then proceeds to crawl up his pant leg.
D looks a little nervous, but stands perfectly still as I gently brush the creature to the ground.
The group grows to twenty.
We squat in the dirt.
And then the bell rings.
If I had had my own class, we would have gone inside,
gotten out science journals
Because a bright green
leaf with legs,
found on the kindergarten playground
on a gloriously golden-treed,
is too perfect
not to save
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Love this moment! And for the leaf bug's sake, I'm glad you were there to moderate the kid scientists' 'experiments'... Now you've got me thinking about the bug's side of the story... what IS a leaf bug doing on a kindergarten playground??
Lost, confused bug, perhaps. We actually had one of those insects on our screen at the beach this summer. We looked and looked. I understand about the longing for a class very well, Carol. The ideas come don't they, and it's hard not to run inside to tell the teachers what they could do next! I love the way you wrote about these budding scientists!
Such a great story of discovery and inquiry so wonderfully told. You captured me in the moment on the playground where thoughtful learning can happen.
Ah, now I miss being a second grade teacher when moments like this can exist. I love the wonder of the moment that you were able to share...on a perfect Fall day.
What do you suppose they told at the dinner table that night? I love the way this story unfolded, you set up the setting so perfectly. Love the goldredorange trees. I could hear each little voice and the shrieks as the bug moved. A special discovery for sure.
Lovely! I don't get out to recess very often, but always love watching the budding scientists and explorers sharing their findings!
Carol, this was a perfectly wrapped gift! I love this slice, especially when the bug jumped and scared away your scientists! It would have been a dream to head back to the classroom and extend that thinking and learning . . . but you told the story so well.
Oh, yeah. Much better than reffing the football game.
Thank goodness for your stinkeye!
I loved reading your thoughts about what you would've done with the kids if they had been in your class. Alas, you did so much for them and with them when you were outside. What a wonderful moment, Carol.
Such a joy, so inspiring to hear your thoughts...Thank you, Carol!
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