An Excerpt from Chapter 6
…‘No,’ she smiled and turned to Ruth who said triumphantly, ‘It’s the sun, miss. All the plants grow because they get sunlight and then animals eat the plants.’
‘Yes that’s right, Ruth… Right, everyone remember that common sequence for the flow of energy in the food chain – sunlight, plants, animals.’ She turned to write it as a large flow chart on the white board. ‘When you get to question three on page seventeen you’ll see that it tells you to play the food-chain game with a partner. I have all of the cards on my desk and you can only play the game if you’ve both completed questions one and two. Is that clear?’ Silent nodding around the room. ‘Make sure you look carefully at the diagrams on both pages as they will help you complete the questions. I have extension work for anyone that finishes quickly. The second part of the lesson is a practical.’
There was a murmur of Ooh! and Great!
The lesson was progressing well and Molly was circulating helping some of the less able children when Faithe asked her, ‘What we doing for the practical, Miss Pearson?’
‘We are going to make bird feeders out of all of the yoghurt pots that you brought in last lesson, Faithe.’
‘Oh, yes, I forgot. But I brought an empty pot noodle thingy. Can I use that?’
‘Yes, if you remember I said a clean plastic container about the size of half a coconut. Some people have brought in a small flower pot, Faithe. Don’t worry it’ll be fine.’
Each child was going to fill their plastic container, even half a coconut shell in some cases, with melted beef suet into which they’d added mixed seeds and nuts. Before the fat set to become solid they would push a small twig right through a hole made at the bottom, so that it could be suspended. Molly felt very pleased with the way every child had wanted to make their own feeder. In two previous lessons they had watched, fascinated, the blue tits’ antics on the feeder outside the classroom window, perching on the twig, fluttering at each other impatient for their turn, just as Danny had described. If only she could maintain all that motivation and enthusiasm for the rest of their school career! Ah well, she thought, I can hope.
During the following week 7S were pleased to see four more suspended seed-fat bird feeders hanging near to their Science room windows. There was a small courtyard surrounded on three sides by classrooms, the Science lab being one of them. The fourth side was a corridor linking the Science department to those of Art and Technology. This corridor had a door giving access to the courtyard, used usually by technicians from the three departments when they required a plant that was growing in the lean-to greenhouse. Molly had persuaded Harold, the school caretaker, to erect a two metre tall pole in the small patch of grass in the centre of the yard. Suspended from the pole were the four prize winners! Children were not allowed in the courtyard without a teacher’s permission.
At the beginning of the lesson following the children’s production of the bird feeders, Miss Pearson had announced that now the fat had solidified they had over twenty “very fine examples, that could easily be sold in the local pet shop”.
The class was shocked at this statement:
Oh, miss I thought we was goin to ang em in the garden…
That’s not fair, miss…
We could feed the birds in our garden, miss…
I like watching the birds feeding…
Oh, miss – please!
She laughed and was unable to speak for a few minutes, amazed at their naivety. The kids were astonished to see their lovely and kind Miss Pearson displaying such callousness, though of course they did not think in those terms.
‘Oh, 7S I’m not going to sell them. I just meant that they are so good that you could sell them in a shop.’ There was a group sigh of relief.
‘What I would like you to do in this lesson is put up your hand for the four feeders that you like best. I will hold each one up in turn and you raise your hand if you like it.’
Lewis raised his hand immediately.
‘Not yet, Lewis.’
‘I’ve got a question, miss.’
‘Oh I see. What is it, Lewis?’
‘Is there a prize for the winner?’
‘Well, I’d like to hang the best four from that new pole outside the window.’
The whole class turned to look at the pole. There were mutterings of: I wondered what that was for and Ooh I hadn’t noticed that before…
‘And,’ the teacher continued, ‘the feeder that the birds use will be the winner.’
Lewis again. ‘Yes, Lewis.’
‘So do they get a prize?’
‘Yes, Lewis, they will win something chocolaty.’
There were several Mm-mms and Oo greats from the Year Sevens. Miss Pearson waited for them to calm down and the voting started. It took longer than she had anticipated, with several children forgetting how many votes they had cast and some lobbying, that she had to squash, from the best friends of the maker of the feeder she held aloft. Miss Pearson was relieved to find that Danny’s half coconut and Faith’s pot noodle pot were destined to be hung from the pole.
‘Now then,’ said Miss Pearson, concerned about how much time was left for her lesson plan. ‘If you wish to take your bird feeder home to hang in your own garden come to me at the end of the lesson, or at the end of school if it’s too awkward to carry it round. You have got two more lessons after all… Yes, Liam, you have a question?’
‘Can you leave it here, miss? I don’t want mine.’
‘Oh! I suppose so, Liam. Come and see me at the end of the lesson will you.’ He nodded. Molly didn’t like to question him further about his reasons. Liam was a very scruffy-looking little boy who always looked under-nourished, grubby and as if his hair needed a good wash.
She recalled her major faux-pas after only three lessons with 7S. Liam had dropped and smashed a test tube, which she made no fuss about, and he had cleared up the mess with a brush and pan. When, five minutes later, he’d dropped a rack of six more test tubes and smashed four of them she shouted at him for being careless. Her words still resounded in her head:
“Liam Miller you are the clumsiest pupil I’ve ever had! Now clear up that mess again… I cannot just ignore this, your mother will have to pay for the damage… Come to me at the end of the lesson with your address so that I can write to her!”
As he crouched and swept the bits of broken glass into the pan Liam broke his heart. Tears streamed down his face as he blubbered and continued brushing, pausing every so often to wipe his snotty face with his sleeve.
Oh, miss, muttered two or three girls. But Molly’s next response had been, “Oh good grief, Liam! It’s your own fault for being so clumsy.” But she was beginning to weaken – cruelty was not her style. “Give him a paper towel, someone, to wipe his face!”
Faithe gave Liam a hand-full of clean paper towels while Kirsty sidled up to Miss Pearson to point out in a whisper, “Liam can’t give you his address, miss. He’s in-care while they find a foster-mother for him. His mum’s in hospital.”...
Here's the link to Nick Baker's U-tube Demo:
and the book link is at the top of this page.