Of Toads and Turtles

Toads Hanging Out in June

In June, the Eastern Spadefoot Toad tadpoles had become toadlets.  They were now fully capable of hopping around, capturing beetles, finding cool places to hide out, and just hang out and enjoy one another’s company.  We were “fattening” them up before they went back to the Cape.  By the end of June, my students had moved onto fifth grade, and my toads were heading back to Sandy Neck on the Cape.  I mourned both of their leaving.  The class and I had put a lot of effort into making sure that the toads would be successful onto their release into the wild.  The students and I had also put a lot of effort into our own learning over the year.  I knew they would be successful learners and people as they move on in their schooling.

And then comes August.  For this teacher, I remember that I have “given away” students who could do anything ask of them and in a short time, I’d be inheriting third graders who would need to learn the routines and expectations all over again.  Assignment Chart will take 30 minutes as I guide them through the fine art of recording assignments in their Student Planner.  I don’t know them as learners yet, don’t know what makes them tick, don’t know their unique personalities.  August is a time of transitions for both the teacher and students who share similar thoughts.

And then came last Thursday.  I was asked by Bryan Windmiller, the biologist who arranged for the class to have the toads, to accompany him as he check on the Blanding’s turtle eggs that he was tracking.  This year, all the 4th grades in

A one-day old Blanding's turtle

town will be studying the Blanding’s turtle.  After a professional development day on Tuesday, where we designed curriculum about the turtle, I was really excited.  So I eagerly accepted the invitation and then drove to Bryan’s house where I met another 4th grade teacher and a former Thoreau alum who is at CCHS and works as an intern. First, Bryan showed us a one-day old hatchling and to my surprise, five of the toads that he had held back.  While not much larger, the toads looked more mature.  The hourglass shape on their back was more defined.  They seemed the same on one hand, but different on another hand.

We headed off to the first site, up on the Concord-Lincoln line.  At an office building, a Blanding’s turtle had laid eggs right by the door.  Quickly, Bryan started digging and soon enough, he held up a hatchling.  I was so excited to see the turtle, it was amazing.  He kept digging, and soon pulled up an intact egg.  Before I knew it, the egg was hatching in his hand.  

Exploring

More and more hatchlings were unearthed.  One by one, they were put into a little plastic box.  Soon, the little hatchlings were exploring all over the tub.  I was amazed at how curious they were as they traversed the box – up and over paper towels, over each other, over broken egg pieces.    Then, it dawned on me.  These turtles were so excited to be exploring.  Everything was new and they were curious about their surroundings.  This is just like my new students will

Follow Me!

be, full of wonder and eagerness to learn about their new environment.  I suddenly became really excited to be able to share this experience with my new students.  Through the turtles, we will learn about each other.   Together, we will explore our environment and explore new ideas about learning that I heard about while at BLC 10.  I am really looking forward to my turtles arriving in Room 305B.

I arrived home after about two hours of walking around in the 90ºF heat.  We had found two nests of hatchlings and it was fascinating.  As I pulled into my driveway, there was one of my “toads” waiting for me to give me a bag of sand from Scotland and her journal.  She too looked older and more mature.  I’m happy to still have the toads in my life, as well, as I’m looking forward to my turtles arriving in a few weeks.

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