There are so many fun little things that happen every day in a 3rd grade classroom (or in any classroom for that matter), but today was even more fun than usual. For starters, we had our first field trip of the year - a wonderful trip to our nature center to kick-off our Geology unit. Now, as you could probably already surmise, kids love field trips no matter where they are or what you do. It's a win-win for them: a ride on a school bus, time away from the classroom, and something new!
So this morning, ten minutes after the bell rang, we were lining up again to head to the bus and start the fun. The excitement was palpable. Once I had them lined up by the door, I gave them my short & sweet, "Field Trip Behavior 101" speech. Be polite. Don't interrupt. Listen & learn. Have fun. And then I reminded them that if they made it to 3rd grade, they've been on countless field trips and therefore obviously know how to act properly on a field trip.
"Any questions about what proper behavior is?" I asked, arching my eyebrows as I looked up and down the line of little ones.
They eyed me back with their best behavior student looks.
"Super! Then we're off!" I exclaimed as I marched them out the door and to the bus.
Now, I'll be honest. I don't like riding on school buses. I don't like the bouncy, no-padding-in-the-cushions seats. I don't like all the noise and the small windows. I don't like the feeling of not having a seat belt. I get car sick easily so I'm constantly trying to look out the windows at the horizon to keep from feeling queasy. Which is nearly impossible when you have little ones telling you a story or you're turned around giving student A an evil eye and motioning for said student to sit down. But, luckily it was a short trip over to the nature center.
Once there, the students were moved around into different rooms and had all kinds of fun hands-on activities to do and things to explore. If they got a grade for field trip behavior, they would all get an A+. We got back to school, promptly went to lunch and then I announced that we were going to do some reflecting on our field trip experience and our
learning. So, I began handing out a 9 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper as I walked around talking. As I passed by one little girl, she turned to her friend and said, "Oh goody. I think we're gonna get to do a craft."
Wah-Wah. Sorry, little one, but we barely have time to get through curriculum and our 10,000 other things we have to do. And you have no idea, but soon the principal will be in the classroom to do my formal observation. There will be no craft today. But kudos to you on the optimistic attitude!
After the directions were given and the students began busily thinking about the field trip [side note: little craft girl did not seemed fazed that we were not doing a craft] and writing about the things they saw and learned about, I passed by one little boy who was very diligently writing. He caught my arm as I walked by and pointed to a word on his paper.
"This is right... right?" he asked. "This is the thing in the rocks. You know the cave thing," he continued.
And as a teacher, naturally I knew exactly what he was talking about. We have a tremendous ability to understand "things" and put clues together like no body's business. Some days it's like we are in a constant game of Pictionary. Or maybe Hangman.
He had written: tavern. Which by that he meant cavern.
"I think you mean cavern," I corrected. "Do you know what a tavern is?"
At this, three other boys at the table joined in the guess the vocabulary word game and started rattling off a bunch of nonsense.
"Enough nonsense," I said. "A tavern is like a bar. People go there to drink and eat."
They all started laughing a bit and I redirected them back to their papers.
Off on the other side of the room two tiny scientists were debating about the "little shovel thingie" (see what I mean about "things") that they had used to dig up fossils.
"It's a scowl," one was saying.
"No. I don't think that was it. I think it was a towel," countered student number 2.
I headed over. "THIS is a scowl," I said to them as I knelt down and gave my scowliest look. "And a towel is what you dry off with after you shower. I think you mean t-r-o-w-e-l."
"Well, that's sure a weird word," said one of the boys.
"I agree," I replied. And I moved on to the other tables to see what was going on.
I'm hoping my observation went well. I'm hoping my principal enjoyed all the wonderful little students I have and all the learning and fun that takes place inside our classroom, not just for a little while, but every day, all day.
And, maybe, just maybe, I will go off the grid one day and I will hand out some paper and we will do that craft.