It was weeks ago, but it stays with me: Grace brought a microscope to school. Usually we have outdoor science on Thursday, but this was Tuesday and the outdoors called us. Earlier, through the windows of Room 204, we’d seen a huge flock of migrating birds arriving in great numbers on the treetops just beyond the roof line across Hanover Avenue.

Now it was late in the day. The birds were gone. Grace’s microscope sat on the round table, still in the box.

“Take out your crayons and look. How many shades of green do you see.” Hands shot up.

“I have a crayon called asparagus,” called one.

“….And I have spring green,” called another.

And forest green.  And yellow green. And just plain green.

“Which crayon would match a blade of grass?  Is all grass the same color?” I asked. We hypothesized about that for a minute. And then we got our coats on and went outside.  Once outside, my third graders waited for instructions.

“Each of you is going to your spot to find a blade of grass. Take a few minutes and come back. You won’t really see if you don’t look.”

Once we had come back together and I asked them to match up with someone with the same color of grass. We went inside to test the hypothesis of color. It turns out that most of our grass was in between two colors. And the color is even more complex when you look under a microscope. Austin pointed out that you could concentrate on a tiny dot that had a color all its own.

Kayia brought me a magnet from the side of my filing cabinet. “Look,” she said. The magnet is a quote from the Talmud: “Every blade of grass has an angel who whispers ‘grow.’”

Isabella came over and told me that her parents had a Johnny Cash song called Forty Shades of Green. We downloaded it on my iphone.

The music  played in the background as the children were grouped around the microscope with their blades of grass.

“What do you see?” I asked.

Colors.  Life.  A tiny egg.

“You know, some people see a field, but writers see a blade of grass.  Your notebook is another kind of microscope. Open up your Quick Writes and write.”

And then… in the whisper of flipping pages, I heard it:


It is true for teachers, too: You won’t really see it if you don’t look.

About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified teacher and loves her work. After a forty year career in the classroom, she continues to support teachers. Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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12 Responses to Grow

  1. Elsie says:

    That is such a powerful lesson! What a great analogy for your students.

  2. Martha says:

    I’ve been privileged to know some of your students as they continue to grow; your love of questions and the permission and commission you give them to look carefully and to wonder stays with them, Annie C. (And your posts always make me misty-eyed with joy.)

  3. Carol says:

    Wow. Just wow. I needed to read this. It’s only four weeks until our state tests. I needed to remember to help my kids see through eyes of wonder. Thank you!

  4. “You know, some people see a field, but writers see a blade of grass. Your notebook is another kind of microscope. Open up your Quick Writes and write.”

    And then… in the whisper of flipping pages, I heard it:


    It is true for teachers, too: You won’t really see it if you don’t look.

    What a great Slice, Annie. You capture the moments in your classroom so vividly. Thanks for sharing this with us,

  5. Love this. Beautiful. Grow. I will remember this today as I enter my classroom.

  6. Stacey says:

    I love the way you connected a science lesson to writing!

    Thanks for capturing your students’ comments in the post too. It shows their connections with the material and with you as their teacher.

    That’s it, we’re moving to Richmond in a few years so Isabelle can be in your class. (If only…)

  7. Tara says:

    What an awesome moment – thank you for sharing it this morning! That is exactly what we hope to establish in our writing workshops – the delight in taking in all that is around us and using our notebooks to grow our wonder.

  8. Linda Baie says:

    It’s just wonderful that you responded to all the ingredients of the lesson that your students brought to the table. Each time that empowers them to share more ideas & look more for things. I love this Annie. Thank you for showing & sharing such a powerful lesson. I’ll put this in my notebook too!

  9. JenniferM says:

    What a beautiful learning moment! Thanks for sharing with us!

  10. MaryHelen says:

    Powerful. I love the way you connected observation in science to writing.

  11. What an amazing moment in an obviously amazing classroom with such an amazing teacher! I loved every bit of it – from the inquiry to the questioning to the comparisons to the worldly connections! Love the connection to writing too. You are an angel!

    Did I mention that I thought that was amazing?

  12. Betsy says:

    And for a moment you let them wonder and think and explore…what great teaching and what an opportunity. You are a little angel in their ear, whispering!

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