One Sunflower

every opportunity

on May 24, 2011

I was about a half hour into my Tuesday morning routines when I noticed that one of our butterflies had popped from its chrysalis.  But the poor thing lay crumpled and lifeless on the floor of the netted enclosure.  I quickly made a dish of sugar water and placed it close to the fragile insect but the wings were too deformed; I knew it wasn’t going to survive.  I waited until the last minute, secretly hoping for a miracle but finally pulled it out before the students arrived on the bus.

I decided to let the students witness the hatching of the other five before I recounted the story of my early morning finding.  My students are young and  I could have conveniently forgotten to tell them the story of this butterfly; none of them had really kept track of the fact that six caterpillars become six butterflies.  But this was a powerful story and one I knew they would repeat often.  Since a primary goal in our class is to strengthen oral language, I try to use every opportunity to prompt student story telling.

Sure enough, Lena was absent on Tuesday and so on Wednesday, her good friend, Taryn, escorted her to my journal and retold the story of premature butterfly.

ps to all readers and writers at Two Writing Teachers – do you have a recommendation for a professional book read for elementary school teachers to begin with in the fall?

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8 responses to “every opportunity

  1. Elizabeth G says:

    Life lessons can be hard, I am so glad that you shared your account of the poor deformed butterfly. I always seem to have a butterfly who struggles too. I love how your students keep absent students informed. How very sweet and a great opportunity to share their learning.

    Professional books for Elementary Teachers: I’ve read some really get books this year. I’m guessing that you want more primary oriented books. “A Place of Wonder” by Georgia Heard was a great reading and writing NF book. “Of Primary Importance” by Ann Marie Corgill was a phenominal and practical book about teaching young writers. “Guided Math” by Laney Sammons was a great book on teaching differentiated math. Of course, you can’t forget the Moser Sisters “Daily 5” and “CAFE” books (reading stratgies and differentiation instruction) if you haven’t read them. Hope that helps! Enjoy!

  2. Elizabeth G says:

    Oops, have one more book for you. “The Reading Powers” by Adrienne Gear is another must read for teaching reading strategies and thinking. It’s nestled right next to my dog-eared “Mosiac of Thought” and “Stategies that Work”.

  3. Mrs. V says:

    I am glad that it was not the only butterfly so that the students could experience a mixture of the excitement along with the sadness/disappointment.

  4. Linda Baie says:

    It’s wonderful that you told the whole story. And special that you did this project at all. Sometimes people are afraid that some will not make it, but that’s life, isn’t it, and your students learned that, too. As for books, there are so, so many. Our staff read Non-Fiction Matters by Stephanie Harvey a few years ago and it made good conversations. We have also read the Literature Circle book and I have discussed Nanci Atwell’s In The Middle with my teachers of older students. We haven’t read anything together lately, but I really do like this new book Day by Day by the Two Writing Teachers.

  5. Michelle says:

    Wow! So powerful and many times just giving kids the words is what they need. I think I would have conveniently forgotten to mention it, but good for you for taking advantage of this opportunity of life and death.

    There are so many great books to read! In the last couple years, we have read the following reading strategy books: “Reading with Meaning” (Miller), “Strategies that Work” (Harvey and Goudvis), DAILY 5 and The CAFE book (2 Sisters). It also depends on the needs of the building — be it comprehension, vocabulary, writing, professional learning communities . . . can’t wait to hear what you are reading in the fall!

  6. Ruth says:

    Katie Wood Ray’s IN PICTURES AND IN WORDS (Heinemann, 2010) totally changed the way I teach primary writers. It was revolutionary (and I don’t use that word lightly) for me.

    @ Linda Baie — Thanks for the nod to Day by Day.

  7. Diana Martin says:

    Perfect example of the power of authentic reasons to read and write. As always, your pictures make me imagine the joyful sounds of your classroom.

    My school just purchased Day by Day by Ruth and Stacey and Notebook Know How by Aimee Buckner for fall PLC’s.

  8. Kjersten says:

    I love that you told your students the entire story (after they witnessed some good moments, so as not to be distracted away from those moments). Somehow I bet that hearing the sad part made the good parts of the experience more rounded, real and memorable.

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