I’d been a substitute teacher for a number of years before I signed on as an special education technician at Whittier Middle School. I truly enjoy working with all age groups, and had worried a little about settling down with only the 7th and 8th grades. But I had nothing to fear. Middle-schoolers are silly, fun, caring, dramatic, sarcastic and smart. I learn something new every day!
I’m blessed to be paired in a classroom with Shannon Shanning. I’ve learned so much from her! Every day, I witness her uncanny ability to get to the heart of what each student needs in order to be a successful learner. Then she goes above and beyond to make sure they get that type of learning. Shannon also believes in connecting her students to the community. Is it any wonder she was named Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year? Click here to follow her journey.
One of my favorite lessons to teach is writing strategies (big surprise, huh?) Quite often I use one of my own books as an example on how to gather ideas, do research or create a character. I highlight the similarities between their classroom writing and the process I used to write Cooper and Packrat’s adventures. I enjoy their questions: How many times did you have to rewrite it? How long did it take you to write 35,000 words anyway? How the heck did you ever fiiiiind 35,000 words to write? How do you choose the storyline? The characters? Do you really have to do research? Whoa, you make more mistakes than we do, Mrs. Wight! (after seeing a manuscript full of critique notes from a writing friend)
In the drop-down menu for this page, you’ll find free curriculum guides developed by Shannon, as well as classroom activities. Shannon Shannning and I have tested most of them several times through the years, and they were given a seal of approval by our students. Please don’t hesitate to ask either of us questions, we’re happy to help.
Under the “Read Aloud” tab, you’ll find virtual read aloud opportunities for Mystery on Pine Lake, Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest and Mystery of the Bear Cub. Between teaching and writing, I’m creating more, so please check back often.
Also, any of the wildlife photos you find on my site, especially those in the wildlife gallery page, are free for you to use within your classroom curriculum, or for your students to use in projects. All I ask is that you keep the photo intact with my copyright information.
Be sure to check out the Words and Wildlife Blog for some of my wildlife-stalking adventure stories, such as the summer I monitored a loon family from nesting and hatching, until they flew south for the winter. Or the time I videotaped a snapping turtle fight . . . which in turn ended up a scene in the first chapter of Mystery of the Bear Cub! There are also some wildlife story starters and creative wildlife research projects.
Please drop me a line if you use any of the content here. I’d love to hear all about it!