Teaching! I Would Do It Again! Part 3By Warren Singer
Pond of doom!
About a thousand pounds of rocks and forty gallons of water were laboriously carried into to my classroom by students and me to create a habitat for various critters. We gathered rocks of varying size, texture, and color from a wooded area near the school and also near my home in Parsippany. It was a slow onerous process. We created a pond in the classroom by covering some of the rocks with a sheet of canvass and then filling it with water. An air pump hissed throughout the day delivering oxygen to an assortment of fish. The rocks were covered with moss and were offset with an array of colorful artificial flora. Frogs and toads found shelter between the wet rocks; biology lessons came alive! Sometime during the school year, inexplicably, the pond sprung a leak. One morning as I entered the classroom, to my amazement, my carpeted floor felt like a soggy sponge. The custodial staff had much to say about this disaster. But I survived. The kids, however, thought that our classroom “swamp” was especially cool!
Among the diverse subjects I taught, science was always my favorite. To some extent my enthusiasm was picked up by many of my students. Much that we did in science was hands-on activity, the “glue” that helped the learning stick. And, as with my other subjects, I learned at an early time in my career that lessons taught with an infusion of humor helped to keep the kids focused and wanting more. I taught them how to distinguish between observation and inference, to measure, hypothesize, and to think critically about things. In a nutshell, I did my best to teach them about the processes of science, while linking process to interesting content. Astronomy, biology, chemistry, electricity (my favorite), and much more made up the curricular menu. With life science activity the kids handled (some reluctantly) frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes and turtles.
I would be remiss not to mention how fortunate I was that my wife [conintued on page 2]