Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ten Dogs in the Window

Most teachers I know find getting ready for a sub one of the dreaded activities of the school year due to the added time it takes to prepare. I am certainly no exception. Over the years, I have an assortment of books that are my go-to resources every time I find myself with little time to get ready for a substitute teacher to visit my classroom.

So I thought to share with you one of my very favorites: Ten Dogs in the Window by Clarie Masurel and Pamela Paparone. The text is very basic with a nice repetitive and rhythmic pattern, so you can use it even with beginner students. The book is about 10 dogs in a pet shop window display that leave one by one with different people. The fun thing is to guess or predict which dog each person will choose. In one page, you see a person approaching the window, in the next page the same person is leaving with one of the dogs as the next customer approaches the store. It really is for small children but, the older students enjoy guessing and explaining their reasoning behind their prediction. It is also good for making a arguments. The sentence frame I use is:

"I predict this person will choose the _________ ________ dog because ________."
"I don't think he/she would choose the ______ _______ dog because ___________________.

A way to add complexity is counting -- subtracting the dogs; reviewing Math vocabulary using questions like "How many dogs will this person take away?" and "How many dogs are left?" etc.

Another way to use it is as an informal assessment for describing by having the students make their own guesses or predictions to the question: Which dog do you think he/she will choose? The students describe without a scaffold in order to identify those still struggling with the adjective-s+noun pattern. When a guest teacher is given an assessment task that is easy to do and record, they really appreciate it. Nothing like "fresh ears" to help you make sure students reach mastery in this basic skill. I just have them mark in the student's list, next to their names a - or or for every time a student had a turn to describe using a complete sentence. "-" means struggling; "+" means experienced. Hesitations count as "struggling". For me, this skill should come automatic to count it as experienced.

What a fun book for a 30 minute session pull-out group! I find it ideal for K to 2nd grades, however 3rd and even 4th graders enjoy the guessing game too. I love reading this book, but I resist using it throughout the year, so whenever I find  myself short with time preparing for a substitute teacher it is a go!.

What are your go-to books for subs?