At the beginning of the school year, I read a post on George Couros’ blog about a little girl named Emily. This post really resonated with me. Emily is a student at George’s school, and she sounds like the most amazing child. George speaks about all of her incredible gifts, and he also speaks about the fact that Emily is autistic. Emily has a service dog that accompanies her to school each day, and this dog helps calm Emily during difficult situations. Until this post, I never heard about having a service dog for autism, but George’s post definitely intrigued me, and Emily and her mom definitely made an impact on me.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet from George about Emily. Her mom, Alison, published a book called If My Dog Could Talk, and it was all about Emily’s day-to-day life with her service dog, Levi. The book looked amazing, and so I ordered a copy. It arrived on Wednesday, and on Thursday, I decided to read it to the class.
Over the year, we have already spoken a lot about autism, and the students can all connect to having a child in the class that is autistic. Maybe it was the photographs in the book, or the rhyming verses on each page, or just the simplicity of the text that instantly had all of my students loving, If My Dog Could Talk. After reading the book, I mentioned that Emily went to Mr. Couros’ school — all of my students know of this principal from Alberta, as he has inspired many classroom activities too — and right away they wanted to connect with her.
We have been working on “point of view” in the classroom, so we looked at some of the different photographs in Alison’s book, and we talked about what the dog might be thinking on each page. The students then chose to draw pictures of an event in the book and add a thought bubble or two, inferring what Levi might be thinking at this time. I mentioned to the students that I follow Alison on Twitter, and so they thought that it would be great if we could make a VoiceThread and share the link with her. We did just that!
This sharing had amazing results. On Friday night, I got these tweets from Alison:
When I wrote her back and said that she could definitely share these links, I noticed that not only is our VoiceThread on her webpage, but it has also been tweeted out to numerous people from around the world.
I even got numerous tweets from Nancy, another parent at George Couros’ school, asking about our VoiceThread and saying how much she enjoyed it.
Alison’s book really helped my students understand what autism is all about. Her book educated us, and now we can help educate others too. Thank you, Alison and Emily, for showing us that education really is power!
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This is what learning in every classroom should be like, purposeful, engaging, and authentic. What a great idea for using voicethread! Your students must have been thrilled to see the instant positive feedback from Allison and the fact that their work was being shared to the world.
Thanks for your reflection and contribution Aviva!
Thanks for the comment, Thomas! I think that this authentic learning makes the difference. I know that it definitely inspires my students to want to do more!
What a great post, Aviva! I really enjoyed the VoiceThread that your students created. What a great authentic learning opportunity for your students! I cried while reading the book for the first time last week. Thank you for spreading the word about a very special little girl who inspires those around her with her positive attitude, kind nature, and beautiful smile! What a great story.
Thanks for the comment, Lesley! I’ve never had a chance to meet Emily, and yet, she definitely inspired me and the rest of my students too. I’m so glad that I saw George’s tweet about this book. Yet again, the power of Twitter definitely amazes me!
What an amazing post illustrating how your students share their voices with Emily and the world. At the end of the day, it is relationships that are the most powerful and keep us grounded to what matters most. Your students positioning themselves to share the dog’s point of view demonstrates their true comprehension of caring and love.
Thanks Lisa! I think that these connections are so important too. My students loved this activity, and best of all, they learned something from it as well.
Thank you for the comment!