Outside my classroom I have two bird feeders. I put them out last year my class was inspired by the book “Look Up” by Annette LeBlanc Cate. This year the feeders and the birds have been neglected. I have been too busy give it a thought.
Last week, one of my students was playing out behind the school so I called out to him and asked him to fill the feeders. These feeders attract a lot of wild life. Lots of chickadees, tufted titmouses, goldfinches and other little birds I am not sure of. We also have a flock of turkeys and a herd of squirrels. The wild life quickly found their way back to our feeders and dug in to the buffet.
On Monday, my students arrived to see birds visiting the feeders. Later in the morning the squirrels arrived. The squirrels cause a bit of a stir as they perform acrobatics on the feeders: hanging upside down, swinging between feeders, scrambling around on the iron hanger.
I had to teach my class to ignore the wildlife visitors during work times. The fifth graders had trouble with self control… of course. I told them it is okay to glance at the feeders and notice the activity but they needed to not let it be a distraction. As the action unfolded on the bird feeders, there was always someone who felt compelled to announce what was happening. This led to five or six kids to get out of their seats to go check it out.
I finally had to say, “If we can’t manage having the bird feeders outside the window, I will have to move them.” I hated having to say it, but I know it is possible for kids to work with bird feeders outside the window. This threat did the trick. We were able to coexist with the bird feeders.
Today I watched one of my students watching the bird feeders. His eyes were on the feeder, I saw him stand up, sit down and saw his eyes track across the sky towards the trees. I gave him a look and he refocused himself.
Tonight at his conference, I mentioned the bird feeders and his parents laughed and mentioned they are hearing about the bird feeders at home. He and his brother are looking up the birds in the bird book a home.
Then the student said, “Today I saw a hawk swoop in and get a red squirrel that was eating some seed off the ground.”
“Seriously?!?!?” I said.
He grinned and nodded. There I was thinking he needed to focus more and now I realized he had actually shown LOTS of self control not to announce the demise of the red squirrel to the class.
Now I will need to teach about feeder events that are worthy of interrupting the class for and how to handle it. He plans to write this up as a Slice of Life. I can’t wait to read his version.