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As Deb and I were walking out to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse today we noticed two men with binoculars. Curious about their conversation, I asked, “Do you mind if I ask what you are watching?”
“Birds,” they responded.
“I have some friends who are birdwatchers too. It’s a great hobby.”
They both smiled and nodded in agreement. They walked a few paces with us and then began telling more of their story They shared how they began bird watching. Then one said, “Three weeks ago we were here and saw some purple sandpipers, right here along the breakwater. We were so close to them. It’s a rare treat. They usually don’t come this far south.”
Their wives, who were farther down the breakwater, joined the conversation as we neared. “Those sandpipers are here again.”
“Really?” both men perched their binoculars and focused their attention in the direction of the purple sandpipers.
Deb and I searched for them too. One of the wives pointed them out to me. “See the three? Down there in the rocks?”
I stretched and angled and saw them hopping along the black rocks. “They are rare?”
“Oh, yes,” the woman said. “This is special to get to see them.” The enthusiasm of the bird watchers was contagious. We were compelled to watch for a little longer.
I was struck by how we could have completely walked by this rare treat. Without having someone, an expert, point it out to me, I wouldn’t have even known I was near something special. If they weren’t looking the purple sandpipers could have been almost invisible.
I think this happens too often with the readers and writers in our classrooms. We miss the rare treats of deep thinking or compelling writing because we aren’t looking. We see the misspellings. We see the conventional errors. We get hung up on text complexity. And we miss the remarkable work that is happening each day in our classrooms. This wee let’s be on the look out for rare treats. Let’s look past the annoyances and instead find solid reading and writing work.
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