My students are at the point where they are doing amazing things academically. As a class they have read over fifteen million words, and are reading books with complex plots and understanding them. They are able to have somewhat intelligent conversations and are able to work cooperatively to solve a problem. Their writing has finally become creative and unforced. They are creating essays, books, and plays without me hovering over them with whips and chains. But it is the end of the year. It has taken a long time for the seeds of learning to grow.
Next year I am planting corn it grows faster. I had a personal science experience with fast growing corn. Years ago when I had the time and wherewithal to do science, my students made terrariums for geckos for a science project. Groups of students were given plastic show boxes with flimsy plastic lids, seeds and soil and a few geckos to create terrariums. I hate teaching science it’s messy and the experiments never work when one needs them to, or everything dies. I also feel sorry for the butterflies, fish and lizards because when we are done with them we have to put them in the freezer and then dispose of them. One wouldn’t want to upset the ecological balance of the world by setting them free. Just think if every fifth grade teacher across the world let the geckos go we would be overrun by geckos and they would all want that little insurance lizard’s job and there aren’t enough insurance companies that have geckos as mascots and then they would all be in the unemployment line . . . . . The moral of the story, fifth grade teachers, is don’t set the geckos free and if you have in the past, stop.
Oops, back to the terrariums! One morning the students observed that corn had started to grow and when we were ready to leave for the day the corn had grown to about an inch in length in one day. On the way out the door one of the boys said, “Hey, Miss C, wouldn’t it be funny if we came in tomorrow and we couldn’t get in the room because the corn had taken over!”
“Yea, real funny. Knowing my luck with science experiences I wouldn’t be surprised, if that did happen.”
The next morning when I came into the room I didn’t have to weave through the cornrows but when I turned on the light I noticed that the corn had grown enough to pop the lids off the terrariums. AND the geckos had used the cornstalks as ladders to escape the terrariums. There were geckos in various places throughout the room, frozen in their tracks, staring at me like they just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I, too, was frozen because I didn’t want to move and end up with gecko guts in the tread of my wheelchair tires, so I did what any normal crippled kid would do in a room filled with geckos. I screamed, “GECKOS!”
I heard my friend Lauri shout from her room, “What?”
As she opened the door between our adjoining rooms she said, “Don’t tell me your . . . GECKOS! Why did you let your geckos out? The directions specifically say we cannot release the geckos.”
“The corn! It popped off the terrarium lids and they escaped. Lauri, help me get the geckos.”
“First, when you say help me you really mean Lauri you and you alone need to pick up the geckos. Second, I don’t do lizards.”
At that moment two students came in the room, saw the bug-eyed geckos and shouted, “Geckos!”
I am sure at that point the poor geckos were eying each other and shouting in their very best Australian accent, “YIKES, MATES! PEOPLE!”
As Lauri jumped up on the reading table she said, “Girls, I’ll point ‘em out, you corner them and catch them. Cathy, you just stay where you are and shout GECKOS. That will help tremendously.”
I don’t know how WE managed it, all but one gecko (I’m sure the insurance gecko could use an understudy.) was returned to their terraiums, the corn was removed and the flimsy plastic lids were duct taped shut.
A few weeks later that missing gecko was found. (I guess he didn’t make it to Hollywood.) A student stayed after school to help clean up and as she was putting stuff away in the science kit she said, “Um, Miss C, I found the lizard.” I was sure when I turned to look I would see its dried up, stiff carcass, but instead when I turned around their was the gecko hanging off the end of her finger. I guess he was hungry. We named him Chomper.
P.S. I just couldn’t freeze Chomper and his friends not after what we all had been through. Lauri’s sister, Faye, took them and they lived happily ever after in a huge terrarium in her house. They lived for ten years before passing on of natural causes as natural as death can be in a terrarium.
Next year when I begin to plant seeds in my students’ minds I am going to plant the big, fast-growing corn seeds. They’ll be unstoppable!
You are a metaphorical monster.
The Flip Side
Geckos? Geckos? You were in a room filled with geckos and you didn’t call me?