Our Room 15 students were just hitting their stride when the school closure hit.
- Our reading groups were going well. Kids who had struggled early in the year were showing awesome growth and were really into their chapter books (Doolittle, Riding Freedom, and Keepers of the School).
- The kids had been working very hard on their Exhibition projects. They’d done a ton of research on their bird species and were developing their green screen presentations, which were looking AMAZING.
- We’d made a lot of progress on our bird nesting boxes (above). We were using every spare moment—lunch, planning periods, library sessions—to get small groups out in the courtyard working with hammers, drills, and measuring tape. (Thanks, by the way, to all the families who were able to donate supplies!)
- Atop all that, the kids have been tremendously engaged by bird life. Twice this past week I lost the whole class because they leapt to their feet when a scrub jay appeared in the tree outside our windows. An ordinary scrub jay!
Let’s not let circumstance dampen their enthusiasm. Because the point of the closure is to maintain social distancing, it would be counter-productive to spend the extended break around groups of people. Trips to the mall, the movies, and the fun center are probably out, but here is a couple of alternatives that’ll help keep all of you from going stir crazy and instead turn you into bird brains:
- Bird-watching hikes. Roxy Ann Peak, Table Rock, the Sterling Ditch Mine Trail, and other local spots make for great hikes with sparse people. You might also enjoy a trip to the Lower Klamath Refuge. This time of year the bald eagles, coots, and giant flocks of snow geese are all fantastic. By the way, I’ve offered my students checkbook bonuses if they can snap decent pictures of identifiable birds.
- Bird house construction at home. A handful of kids took home nesting box plans and bundles of wood pieces. They just need some parent help and the hardware to build them. Several other kids were interested in doing the same but we ran out of time. I’m willing to put together similar bundles for any of my students. They need only to select one of the plans (se below), make sure they have parent support, and let me know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can pre-cut the pieces to the plan specs or, if the parent wishes, simply select pieces to be cut at home. We’ll set a pick-up day on which I’ll leave the bundle by the back door of my classroom. It’ll be wonderful to see the bird boxes kids bring back to school, and because it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to have the “family construction day” I’d been planning, it’ll provide a safe way for families to still be involved. (Note: if you don’t have a hole saw, we can do that back in class.)
P.S. Kids, leave a comment on this post and it’ll be worth $10 in your checkbook!