My class participates in the Feeder Watch program. Across the country schools, individuals, actually anyone who wants to can observe their bird feeder, record bird types and numbers and then send the information to Cornell University where it is compiled. It makes a great math moment in the classroom and is such fun looking out our windows to watch the birds feasting on the seeds we have left for them. Students use guide books, binoculars and posters to decide upon which birds they are spying.
You have to be standing at the window to look down on the feeders. But during my times of gathering the class for mini lessons, they are sitting in front of those same windows. I like the natural sunlight streaming in. While on the carpet if the children happen to look up, just behind me and my easel, they can see the sky and a huge oak tree.
Generally I feel they are engaged in my lessons. They are a pretty focused group intent on learning. I try to keep the lessons truly "mini" and succinct so they can go off and apply these skills to their own work of the day. I'm hoping they realize the importance of my words and actions.
Apparently not so much on one day last week. Well, maybe just a few minutes of disengagement. As I was wrapping up a lesson I had thought provided direction on writing biographies, quiet, shy Eduardo raised his hand to comment. Not one who does so often, I was pleased to see him initiate this comment rather than raising his hand to answer a question. What part of my lesson he is going to talk about I wondered to myself.
"Ms. E, I just saw a mourning dove fly by."
What? Wait! I'm talking biographies here. Is his mind wandering?
Well, others approved of Eduardo's change of subject as I heard, "Yeah, earlier I think I saw a hawk" and "I saw three starlings sitting on a tree branch".
I sulked briefly as it became apparent Eduardo was not the only one glancing up and out the window. Quickly I gathered my bruised teacher ego. Truth is, I love glancing out those same windows. When I stand at the front of our room teaching that class of desks, I'm often laughing inwardly at the antics of several lively squirrels which only I can see.
And they were applying information they had learned. They could identify bird types. Mixed in with biographies.