Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Mini-Freak-Out

This semester I have a student teacher. She has had some really great ideas that we are using in the classroom. This week we began a new unit. We requested that the 3rd and 4th grade students bring in a shoe that they have out grown, or to bring in anyone's old shoe to use for an art project. This is a great way to reuse something that they might have around the house and turn it into an artwork.The main goal of the lesson is to use the shoe to tell a story and today they were challenged to come up with ideas.

One boy got his shoe from the pile and came over to me. "Mrs. Mitchell, there is a black widow in my shoe." Now this boy is a really fun student, but I sort of just assumed that he had seen a spider and wanted to scare me. I took his shoe over to the trash, reached my hand inside and started pulling out the cobwebs, shoe liner, and crunched up leaves. I shook the shoe out and gave it back, "I don't see any spiders. I am sure it is fine," I told him.

A few minutes later as students were finishing their sketches, he came to get me again. "Mrs. Mitchell, there really is a black widow in my shoe." I had him bring the shoe to me and as soon as I looked inside, I almost freaked out in front of the entire class!! There REALLY was a black widow spider inside his shoe! My entire body gave way to some sort of scared, freaked out spasm as I tried to keep every one calm, I was secretly freaking out inside. Trying to control my breathing, I decided to use this as a teaching moment.

I would catch the spider in a jar so everyone could get a closer look and they would know to kill a spider if they ever saw one in their shoe or crawling around a baseboard. I quickly found a jar with a lid and went back over to the shoe. As I looked inside, I realized that the spider wasn't where he had been a few minutes before. I started to peak into the shoe and of course all of the students were curious now. "I am going to catch the spider and you can all look at it," I told them. "Eeek...I can't see it right now..." A girl nearby piped up, "Mrs. Mitchell, the black widow is crawling on your back!" AAAAAAAHHH!!! My composed, calm teaching moment was ruined as I literally had a mini freak out with dozens of kids watching me shiver and convulse!!! "Get it off!! Get it off!! Get it off!!" I rushed over to her as she giggled. "Not really, I was kidding." She said. Ugh!! My insides were shaken and I was really scared at this point. I have heard that black widows can be poisonous and even deadly. (To read the real facts that I read up on later, click here.) Everyone broke into giggles at seeing the teacher have a mini-freak-out.

Whew, no spider on my back. But I still managed to catch him, and another little baby one in this jar. I am sure this is a moment that my students will never forget.

You can see that he/she has already made a mini web in the jar.


LeAnne said...

I would have died right on the spot. Spiders are one thing (don't care how helpful they are to the environment, my plants, or whatever) that I could do without!!!

Sankari W. said...

okay - reading your post made me have a mini freak out - when your student joked that it was on your back - i felt like i had creepy crawlies on my back.... ewwwww... you are so brave to try to make it into a teaching moment!!! what an amazing pic of that spider!