Dear Liza, (and Jasper and Kestrel),
I have been a teacher for almost 30 years, and I love it because every day is different. Some days are more awful, some less. Today was one of the rare almost perfect days.
In my fourth grade class, we are starting to learn about geology and the changes that happen to the earth over long periods of time. While looking in a book at the library, I found an activity that I knew the kids would like and would help them understand how sedimentary rocks form. If only I could pull it off!
First, I needed to get supplies. Because of the closing of Beverly’s Fabrics in Old Town Salinas, we needed to go to several different stores to find plaster of Paris. That and styrofoam cups where the purchased supplies. Jo-Ann’s crafts and fabric saved the day! For the objects to be fossilized in the sedimentary rocks, Liza and I made a hasty search in her backyard for small sticks, leaves, and flower petals. This morning, a nice fifth grader fetched sand from the play yard for me, and I found some beans in a math game I don’t use anymore.
Getting 25 kids to handle goopy plaster of Paris in a classroom without getting it all over is tricky…we had to take turns and stay out of the way of the folks working. There was an assembly, library time, and Fun Friday to work around, but we did it.
By the end of the day every student had poured three separate layers of plaster of Paris into their cup, with something different fossilized between each layer. The cups will rest on the back table until Monday, when we will cut the cups and reveal the rocks! I have a feeling I should take some small hammers, for those who want to see the inside.
This is my last few months teaching, and I am getting a little misty about leaving. I know there are other adventures to be had, but nothing that gets out there and changes lives as much as teaching.
I will miss it.