The Florida Sandhill Crane couple that resides across from our school have decided to show off their brood. I love it when they do so; it signifies that spring is officially here. They fly over and hang out in the stand of pines across from my portable. Do my students know that these birds mate for life? Do they stop and watch the babies with their awkward long legs and fluffy chick-like bodies? Do they know that these birds are a threatened species? Are they aware of a unique opportunity we have to stand still ? Is there a way I can connect this to a standard? Will it be on a test? Is it important? Are students curious about these birds? Should I take advantage of their interest?
These are questions that race through my mind as I work on finalizing my lesson plans for the fourth nine weeks during spring break. Anything that means a trip to our library or our computer labs is out due to testing. The library will be closed for at least 6 weeks and the computer labs for about 8. Talk about testing narrowing the curriculum, in more ways than one it has. Testing and the resulting progress monitoring have taken away at least 4 weeks of instructional time in my classroom. I don't cover content. I create opportunities for students to develop a deeper understanding of what they need to know as well as why. I find that I have less and less time to do so. I don't have time to change gears as often and respond to that teachable moment. It's a frustration that many in my field share.
Today I scrapped my plans and headed for the beach. It was that kind of day. The weather was sunny and the water was warm, a perfect spring day in Florida. How often do we do that in teaching anymore? Scrap our plans, especially when the forecast in the classroom calls for something different.