One Sunflower

a Copernicus moment

on October 23, 2012

There are all kinds of things we learn growing up that are “paradigm” shifting bits of information.  I can vaguely remember little epiphanies I experienced as a child when some grown-up revealed a truth to me and my world opened up and I was changed.

I chewed on my braids constantly as a child until fourth grade when some crackling film strip revealed all the teeny tiny bugs that live on our hair and eyelashes.  That was it for me, no more hair in my mouth.

I remember the first time I looked at an eclipse with a hole punched in a shoe box lid and saw that little crescent of a shadow; I never looked at the sun and moon in the same way again.

This fall I am teaching an after-school class for 5 precious second graders.  The goal of the class is to ask questions and read to find answers and generate more questions, of course.  Since they aren’t very good readers themselves, I do most of that work.  But they have amazing questions and we’ve learned a lot of cool stuff together.  Our latest research has been about cheetahs, a topic they all agreed they wanted to know more about.

We began by reading about “big cats” in general.  When I shared a page about how the pupil of a cat’s eye expands to let more light in so they can hunt at night, it was one of those Copernicus moments.  I could tell that this revelation was eye opening!

I’m sure they won’t remember when or how they learned this little nugget – I don’t remember when I first learned about eyeballs – but it sure made me feel cool to talk to the children about something so vital.

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5 responses to “a Copernicus moment

  1. I love this, Amelia. And I love the crackling filmstrip reference. With the teacher reading the script! Thank you for that memory. Oh, the things our children have no idea about.

  2. Chris says:

    I’ve learned more about animals, science and nature by reading with students. I love these eye-opening moments!

  3. I love the images you painted with your specific word choices at the beginning of this slice. I remember those crackly old film strips too. I had a couple of teachers who always had trouble threading them through properly!

  4. Laura LA says:

    Isn’t it great to be a part of that discovery. I love your flexibility in choosing topics of study; your students are clearly engaged.

  5. I remember being intimidated at first about using the filmstrip projector! I also remember when I learned that President Washington did not chop down the cherry tree. Great words to remind us that our words are important.

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