Today was a special day. We visited the second grade dog therapy/literacy lab class of second graders for the last time in this school year. During this time we also interviewed some students, asking them about what they liked about our visits this year.
Children expressed that having a dog in the classroom gave them a sense of happiness and brought a lot of fun and laughter due to Carmel’s silly personality. They also all mentioned that working on their own autobiographies was the best part of my own interaction with them. It’s amazing to hear from children that writing with Carmel was the best part because it shows that the children truly value this experience and got a sense of a great accomplishment.
Some students said:
“It’s very fun. We get to work on stuff that other second graders don’t get to do.”
“We get to write books and talk about books. We also get to illustrate in many different ways.”
“My favorite part was playing with her and getting to write books. When I get older I’m going to write a couple thousand books.”
“My favorite thing is that I always love reading books. I always wanted to write a real book about something, and you gave me the opportunity.”
Children’s responses to interview questions made me rethink the title of my next book. When children talk about writing and becoming writers, as well as even having their own therapy dogs in the future, these ideas make me think that what we have done in the classroom truly empowered children. In the world of chaos and sometimes hopelessness, I can see that bringing pets to schools and engaging children in meaningful activities around pets and writing about them can result in the actual change in the world because these children will influence the future. Therefore, the new title of my current book will be:
“Teachers and therapy dog teams: Collaborations to increase children’s motivation, engagement, and literacy achievement and to empower them for life
In the meantime, as we cannot go to every classroom in this country, we have created the Carmel’s Therapy Dog App. This application allows children to interact with my dog character, write stories, illustrate, and much more. The application also is meant to be used by teachers who would like to connect students to the therapy dog idea and look for ways of engaging young writers in writing. So please do not wait and get the app.