Skip to main content

Authentic Reading: Meet Tarra and Bella

A few days ago, my daughter jumped off the school bus and said “Mom, can I go on You Tube? I HAVE to show you something!”. I was a bit taken aback and asked what she wanted to see. Immediately she and her twin brother began talking about Tarra and Bella, two animals they met in a book during their library time.

Tarra and Bella are unlikely best friends. Terra is an elephant and Bella is a dog. The You Tube video describes their connection and provides some adorable footage of the friends in action. As we explored, I found a book published about the pair and they told me about the book from their experiences in school. 

I was so happy to see my children excited about reading books and deepening their reading with technology. Too often, they lament that read is ‘work’ and they dread writing about their reading in school. Since they were so taken with these animals, I thought I would share the links with you in case you want to share them with your class. Think of the possibilities: examine photos of pair and make inferences about what they see, read the book about Tarra and Bella, view some of the online videos posted, read a few non-fiction articles about friendship, particularly in animals, and then share their thinking across texts and technology with others. Interested? Here are some links to get you started. If you see more that might add to this mini-theme, please share!

Here are some links to photos that you might use to preview the reading. You will even meet some other unlikely pairs that might get your students thinking! Create an ‘I Think / I Wonder’ chart with your students or simply talk about what they see.

Terra and Bella Photos.

Read the book titled Tarra and Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends. Talk about students predictions and if they matched. Infer together. 

Complement the reading with some technology and view the following videos with your class. View the videos in order and watch the original first. Encourage students to share their reactions and questions. These questions could drive further research!

Unfortunately, Bella has passed away. You can read the announcement from the Elephant Sanctuary here, adding in work with primary sources. 

You might broaden your exploration and connect to some non-fiction pieces. Head to Read Works and search for ‘friendship’, ‘dogs’ or ‘elephants’ within your grade level. A few passages should appear as possibilities. How can students connect the new facts they are learning to the Tarra and Bella story? Investigate some of the other animal odd couples out there, such as Owen and Mzee.
Who knows where this could take you and your students!

Starting with a single spark in a topic, we can provide our students with a reading and writing experience that holds their interests, works across multiple texts and technologies and encourages deeper thinking. How might students share that learning with others in an authentic way? Could they research additional information and then present their findings to another class to explore? The possibilities are endless!

Happy reading!
Stephanie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Instructional Coaching Toolkit!

I have a thing for notebooks. And colorful markers. And sticky notes. I use them in all aspects of my literacy teaching and coaching. During coaching conversations, I often find myself providing on-the-spot demonstrations with these tools. I might engage teachers in a brief lesson on phonemic awareness and ask them to sort sounds. I might walk teachers through word building activities so they experience a new way of engaging students. I might introduce books to teachers to model how they might do the same for their students. I might even create game boards on sticky notes as visuals for teachers to support instructional planning. These demonstrations and notes act as instant and tangible tools to further teacher learning.
Over the years, I’ve compiled these artifacts to create coaching toolkits for the teachers I work with. My toolkit for ‘word work’ might include a picture of an anchor chart created with students, a list of words appropriate to the alphabetic feature students are wor…

Focus on Coaching Cycles

At this point in the school year, many of us are deep into our classroom coaching and engaging in coaching cycles with teachers. Just as coaching can look unique from building to building, our coaching cycles are often unique to our coaching context, our purpose for partnering and the goals and needs of each individual teacher: 1:1 coaching cycles, small group coaching cycles, student-centered coaching cycles and more. Each cycle typically has a pre-coaching conversation, classroom coaching/co-teaching/observation and then follow-up conversations as well.You can find theforms and templates I tend to use for classroom coaching here.
For me, my coaching cycles right now are in the context of my graduate education courses. Each week, I engage in a single coaching cycle with each of my students: lesson planning, observing lessons and coaching conversations. We repeat this for ten weeks of the course and the focus of our cycles shift and change over time. We also meet for small-group coac…

Leading By Learning

This summer, I vowed to be intentional in how I spent my time so that when the new school year arrived, I would feel refreshed and renewed. Admittedly, the summer seemed to fly by, but I did carve out time for my own professional learning. I read every day, I wrote in my notebook (almost) daily, tried my hand at gardening, spent time with my kids and just tried to get better at being me. Some days, I killed it. And other days, well….you know. So, as I head into another school year, I know that I need to be incredibly intentional in how I spend my time and ensure that I focus on my own learning as an educator. It is this learning that fuels my work: it lifts my reading spirits, fuels my writing heart and reminds me that leading the learning of others requires that I remain a continual learner myself.
It is this core belief that drives my teaching, coaching and leading this year. I am even more committed to my own professional learning to fuel my work and lead by example. I have purpose…