Every child has a story. And a story can be found in anything. Writing and sharing those stories has power. While roaming around the book store I stumbled upon the book The Lost and Found Tooth. Losing a tooth is a big deal to kids and they always have a story to share with it.
So to merge the two I have kids write a 'Tooth Tale' whenever they lose a tooth. I keep the book handy at the beginning of the year and then the moment a student loses it--- I make sure I read it that day. On one of the cabinets I have a big piece of white paper. Every time a student loses a tooth they go the back cabinet and write - their name, time, date, and setting of where they lost their tooth. Then during literacy block or the end of the day they share their story. We graph them throughout the year to compare the months.
There is always the one student who doesn't loose a tooth until the end of the year and stress about it until then! Once they lose that tooth you thought they would have won the lottery. Tooth tales are great because it is ongoing throughout the year, involves no maintenance besides adding another piece of paper, and every student gets to share their story. Any time we can empower children and their story... I'm down for it!
Meet Scout, our classroom reading dog. Isn't he about the cutest dog you've seen?!? I'm usually NOT a pet person, but I CAN'T get enough of him. He comes weekly to our classroom to read with students--- especially those that are reluctant or have any problems with reading. He is a certified therapy dog and has his Canine Good Citizen certification and his a Reading Paws Dog.
His master is a student in my class and his family. Scout had to do quite extensive training to be allowed to be in the school.
What exactly did Scout to do to be a reading therapy dog?
1. He had to pass an evaluation and training to be accepted in the Therapy Arc
2. Then Scout and his owner, Amy, had to take classes to get his Canine Good Citizen through the AKC
3. Amy had to go to training through the Reading Paws/Intermountain Therapy to get certification.
Click on the links above and http://therapyanimals.org/R.E.A.D.html for more information of the steps to become certified.
While the steps to becoming a reading therapy dog are many--- so are the benefits of the dog with our students.
The first time Scout came to school I had Amy (the momma owner) and the student in my class share about Scout. All kids that wanted to pet him and asked as many questions as they wanted. We set a purpose that Scout was at school to help you be a better reader. He's here to help you read more fluently and confidently.
I read the book A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz the first day Scout came.
The book is a PERFECT tie in for the benefit of animals in our world and can lead to a launching point of so many topics--- service/therapy animals, non-ficiton, biographies, wildlife conservation, different learning types, etc.
This book is about a boy named Alan who loves animals. He goes to the zoo and sees the animals alone and worries about them. Alan wants to be their champion, helper, their voice- but he himself has a sever stutter.... except when he talks to animals. Based on a true story this is a tender tale and lends to the power that each student has no matter the circumstance!
My students LOVE reading with Scout obvi and go nuts every time they see him. I am a firm believer that all students should have access to reading with him!!! High, low, middle, whatever category you put on it- all students have someplace to grow and I will support them in it however I can. I don't make students "earn" their time with him because it is usually the particularly naughty students that need him the most!!!
All students rotate through reading with Scout in 15 minute increments. Scout can only be doing "therapy" for about 2 hours. Some students go in groups, while others get one on one time. I have a few students that I have read with Scout more often because they need that extra 1:1- this includes those with reading disabilities, ELL, need that little extra encouragement, have made a big turn in their reading, Austim, and developmental delays, etc. There is mounds of research on animals supporting students growth academically. I have an inclusion classroom and I can attest to the growth in fluency that has occurred when students read with Scout. It brings me to tears/severe allergies when I see one student who wouldn't even get to close to Scout and couldn't read 3 words without stuttering now let Scout put his head on his lap and reads nearly fluently to him.
There is nothing sweeter than seeing kids snuggle up to Scout and simply read because they can. Scout reads to other students in the school throughout the week, but this year we get the special privilege of having him as an honorary classmate. We love you Scouty!!!!