I have an incubator with eggs in my first grade classroom. Although it is in the corner of the room, it has become the epicenter of the classroom. Today as it was time for math and I did my best to get the children to sit on the rug for the beginning of my lesson on measurement. But they were hovered around the incubator. I didn't exist. Math didn't exist. Time and space stood still. A chick was emerging from its shell.
How do you call children away from an incubator when a new life is being born? Answer:"You don't." More honest answer: "You can't" Most honest answer: "Why would you want to?"
I know every year that when we get the incubator in our classroom that teaching must be transformed for those 5 days. Curriculum takes a back burner to real life science and everything will revolve around these tiny creatures. You can move them away from the incubators but they will gravitate back. You can try to teach, but they won't listen (even if you are talking about chicks). Real life is happening in this little white box and talk is "cheep" (pardon the pun).
But when I said, "Let's go to the computer room and blog about our first little chick being born," not one student remained at the side of the incubator! They all eagerly lined up for the walk down the hall. They couldn't wait to tell the world that they had a new classroom pet...and that it was a boy because he was black with a yellow dot on the head ...and that they named him "Mr. Chick." I was shocked. Computers actually trumped a wet, limp chick gasping for his first breaths on the bottom of the incubator. Never did I think that I would see the day that ANYTHING would tear their eyes from the second by second commentating. Especially since there was another birthing session on the horizon as more eggs were beginning to crack.
Ever since I began this blogging with the class, parents have telephoned and written to me about how excited their daughter or son is to go onto the computer and blog. Blogging, it seems, has taken over their Club Penguin Game time on the computer at home. One parent said that her daughter hasn't even been fighting with her brother over the TV because she opts to go on the computer and write instead. I was amazed at all of the new blog posts that they had created over the weekend. They beg me to let them on the computer during free time in the morning to blog. And why not? Six and seven year olds love an audience and are alway vying for attention. They have an instant audience by blogging! Writing for meaning has taken on a whole new platform.
I'm tweeking their blogging experience here and there by making suggestions for topics, encouraging them to respond to their classmates' blogs and making them re-read what they write for editing purposes. But for the most part, I am letting them just get their own ideas down. Little Emily in my class asked me to read her blog to see if it sounded as if she was talking (I always tell them that writing is just like talking on paper -- or computers, as the case may be now.)
So although managing the blog site has become a new part time job for me, I am loving the excitement it has generated in their writing. And, as TJ confessed to me at the end of the day, "You know, Mrs. Tortolini, blogging is almost as fun as watching chicks hatch." Need I say more?