Therapy animals are used more and more often as we discover how much value they can add to healing and learning for people of all ages. Check here to read current news stories that exhibit the miracles that these animals can bring to us.
I am a huge animal lover and am/have been owned by several pets. Around my son’s 3rd birthday we were concerned about his speech development. He wasn’t much of a talker, but he was an expert at getting his needs met using other methods. He reminded me of the rabbit in the Frosty the Snowman special with all his non-verbal communication. He didn’t see a need to talk! Around that same time we got a new golden retriever puppy, Katy. Katy saw Sam as another puppy playmate and as she was growing she could get a little rambunctious with Sam and sometimes knock him over.
Of course, we worked with training Katy, she’s now a proud graduate of the Canine Good Citizenship program, but part of it was also teaching Sam to use the commands of sit, off, and down in a strong voice. Sam very quickly learned that talking and using his voice served a great purpose and he started using it more and more, not just with Katy, but with all of us. There was many a morning I would wake up to find Sam laying next to Katy’s bed chattering away telling her all about his adventures, hopes, and dreams. It was such a touching sight to see.
Katy is an extremely tolerant dog and she loves anyone and everyone! She would make an ideal therapy dog and in fact, we went through some training to lead to it. Unfortunately, the program we were working with ended their classes and Katy ended up having a series of knee surgeries to correct joint issues in both of her knees and a fight with osteosarcoma which resulted in her front leg needing to be amputated so her career as a therapy dog has never been realized.
Katy spends hours at home providing us constant unconditional love and “therapy” though. One of the things she loves more than anything is to lay with us and be read to! She’s sat through the entire Harry Potter series twice!
I’ve seen the value that the love and attention of a pet can bring to the mental well-being of the people around them. They really can be miracle workers! I would love to see the use of reading dogs in schools increase!
As part of my Wonder Novel Study, I created a reading informational activity about therapy dogs. I offer it outside of the novel study as a free download in my store. It is a wonderful activity to explore the use and benefits of therapy animals. This is a great activity to celebrate all the animal heroes in our life for National Therapy Animal Day!
I am sad to report that Katy’s osteosarcoma returned in her lungs and spine. We sadly had to release her from the pain. Katy was such an important member of our family and is the dog of my children’s childhoods. She will be deeply missed and loved always.
In honor of Katy, and all the wonderful therapy animals out there, Happy National Therapy Animal Day!
I used the Daily Oral Language sentences for grammar, punctuation, and spelling practice in my classroom for years as bellwork. I saw a solid improvement in students’ everyday writing. The short morning lessons paid off and translated well to the standardized testing that the students would take during the year too. Even though I felt this method was very effective I have to admit it was fairly boring for both me and the students. I figured there had to be a better way!
In my quest I came across an article from the Los Angeles Times, about the effects of texting on the grammar skills in tween/teens:
This particular quote caught my eye: “Basically, kids aren’t able to “code switch” — shift between standard grammar and the abbreviations used in text messages, Sundar said. Those abbreviations have essentially become the words for them.
Adults not raised on text-friendly abbreviations in their formative years are able to shift between formal and informal language, Sundar said. Kids consuming a steady diet of “textual adaptations” aren’t.”
We all know that teens use “text speak” to communicate their ideas in the minimum of characters used. This wreaks havoc on conventional grammar, spelling, and punctuation! It is sometimes painful to read! Sadly teens are allowing this “text speak” to sneak into their everyday writing in the classroom. Students need to learn proper writing conventions for application to the real working world. How can we help our students learn to “code switch” so that they can utilize the convenience of texting but still be able to use the proper conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
I decided to combine the DOL type practice with “text speak”. This way students get to do the practice in a way that seems more interesting and practical to them, in their “language” so to speak. At the same time they are learning that even though “text speak” has its place in casual texting conversations, conventional writing rules need to be applied in the school/work world situations. It was the best of both worlds!
The set up is the same that I used for DOL, approximately 2 sentences per day for bellwork. I have a weekly sheet with 10 sentences written in “text talk” that need to be corrected using the proper writing conventions. Each morning as bellwork the student will correct 2 sentences on their own and then as a class, we go over them as part of the morning routine.
Passage: n Aug he didnt nvr do gud
Answer: He didn’t do well in August.
As you can see it does look like some kind of Alien language! To tweens and teens, it is their language and a challenge to translate into proper English. It is almost like a puzzle to them to use the familiar text speak to get it back to regular English. It also reinforces the idea that their “text speak” is a valid form of communication and really should be acceptable among friends and casual acquaintances via texting but it is not appropriate for regular writing in school or most importantly, in the working world. This helps to clarify the difference between the two.
If you are looking for a practical, interesting, and dare I say, FUN way to give your middle/high school students some grammar, punctuation, and spelling practice, check out Alien Text Talk. The full product can be purchased by the quarter, the semester, or for an entire year! Each download includes a printable format, an interactive notebook format, or a digital format to use in Google Drive™!