Great Books Great Lessons!


Two fantastic books have been recently released that teach children about deep sea exploration and teachers should be jumping with joy. These books are fun to read, full of great scientific facts, and the perfect pair to use for a compare and contrast lesson. 

image-1OTIS AND WILL DISCOVER THE DEEP by Barb Rosenstock is a wonderful book that tells about the two men crazy enough to think they could explore the deep ocean in a machine of their own design. Amazingly they were successful and in 1930 became the first deep sea explorers in their ship the Bathysphere.

imageFLYING DEEP by Michelle Cusolito tells about the modern version of the bathysphere – Alvin the deep-sea submersible. This high-tech machine can dive two miles  to collect samples from the seafloor and allow scientists to conduct research on the deepest parts of the ocean. The author uses lovely lyrical language to describe the mysteries of the deep plus she gives lots of information about her research for the book.

I love both of these books and I think they are ideal for doing a compare and contrast lesson. Deep Sea exploration from its beginning to present day. The perfect opportunity to mix science and language arts. I have designed a Compare and Contrast lesson plan –


And worksheet CompareContrastSubWorksheet

And I’ve given you a bonus extension lesson on writing opinions. WouldYouRatherWorksheet

Hope you like the lesson. I KNOW you’ll love the books!!



Stop Testing – Start Teaching!


“Why don’t we just declare a moratorium on testing for a few years, spend the freed-up money on support and professional development for teachers and wonderful books for children in all disciplines, and then spring a test on everyone without test prep to see what they’ve learned? We just might be surprised by the outcome.”

Vicki CobbHuffington Post 9/25/14

womanjumpWhen I read the article that contained this quote I stood and cheered.  Literally stood at my desk and shouted “Yes! Somebody gets it!”

I am not anti-common core.  I think there are some good aspects to the standards such as increased use of nonfiction texts, and more time spent on writing.  But I truly believe that good teachers have been doing this all along.  They instinctively know that immersing their students in wonderful literature and beautiful stories will enrich their vocabulary, expand their world, and increase their intellectual curiosity.  And the test that measures this will be the tried and true test of future innovation, creation, and experimentation by new young scientists, engineers, writers, and thinkers.

clft2As a teacher I do believe in testing.  Some testing is important to let both teachers and students know what is being learned and where there are gaps in the education process, but at this point in time I believe our society is so concerned with the testing that we have forgotten the process of teaching. We need to let good teachers teach.  Let them design themed curriculum using quality books and classic literature.  Let them create tepees in their classrooms, set up student businesses in the middle schools and challenge high school students to partner with real scientists to do research.

These best practices are all available.  They have been tried and found to be successful, so why are we going back to the drawing board time and time again searching for a test that will cure all our problems?  Good principals know the leaders on their staff.  Teachers themselves recognize their peers who excel at engaging and teaching students, and parents all know which teacher they want their student to have for each grade.  It is no secret that some teachers are better than others.  Why not embrace this fact and use the skills of these master teachers to help all teachers improve?

The best teachers will agree with Vicki Cobb.  Give them books, time to study and create, and children will learn.  Give them time to lead professional development programs and mentor their peers and teachers will improve.  Provide all the teachers access to professional writers, scientists, engineers, artists, and business people.  Encourage partnerships between classrooms and the real world.  Then give them a test – any test you want, and you will learn what engaged enthusiastic students can do.  It’s not magic, its teaching.  Good solid teaching done by creative enthusiastic professionals.