When the Moon Blocks Out the Sun: through the eyes of 7th graders

Looking at my blog over the last month, you can tell EXACTLY when school started. My daily posts have come to a stop. My middle school life has taken over, and there isn’t much room for anything else. In the language of high tech, I don’t have enough bandwidth.

Suddenly my lazy mornings are squeezed into about an hour and a half.  The time when I would write is filled with making sure I’ve planned my day, given the needs of my students. I’m trying desperately to learn all their names (I only have about 60 students, but I’m part-time; God bless those teachers with full loads). I’m trying to keep up with the papers and assignments, because that’s a way I get to learn about my kids. Mostly, I’m trying to start out on the right foot. The year can get kind of long if you don’t.

Then: the eclipse. And that eclipsed everything. My kids had prepared for it in their Science classes; they made pin-hole viewers and if they had science during the eclipse, they would be wearing “eclipse” glasses designed to block out the harmful rays.

My mind started wondering about those early civilizations who experienced the blotting out of the sun’s rays without the scientific explanation of earth and moon rotations. What might they have imagined? What did the artists and poets do?

So my class took a time out and spent the day wondering about and witnessing the eclipse — from the poet’s corner, the dreamer’s mind. We took a “language arts” approach to a scientific event — and while we went outside and oohed and ahhed at the spectacular crescent shadows cast through the trees, we processed it through haiku and watercolors. Their combined experience, the marrying of science and art (STEAM) was a rich one — much richer, I think, than compartmentalizing it would have been.

As for me . . . I admit being a little jealous of my husband who traveled to the path of totality and witnessed the darkening of the earth, the magic of the eclipse.  But I was lucky enough to see it through the eyes of 12-year olds, who took in an 80% eclipse with wonder and joy.


While most kids were either using their pinhole cameras they made in science or sharing my one pair of solar eclipse glasses, one of my students was fascinated by the colander I’d brought from home and all the tiny crescents it created on the grass:

And here are some of their finished pieces.  I have to say, they look beautiful on my bulletin board!

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