HELPING TEACHERS INSPIRE COMPASSION
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Category Archives: Blog

Using Books to Create a Caring Classroom

Using Books to Create a Caring Classroom

This school year started like no other. As we transition through these challenging times, it is important for everyone to show a little more compassion and empathy towards others. It is important for us, as teachers, to begin fostering these qualities in students at the beginning of the school year to help establish a healthy classroom environment and a positive classroom culture. Compassion and empathy encourages prosocial behaviour and ethical citizenship, which helps to build strong communities. Establishing a strong classroom community at the start of the year sets your students up for a successful year.

Within a busy school day filled with meeting curricular outcomes, fostering empathy and compassion can sometimes be challenging. However, there are ways to boost character in students while meeting curricular outcomes.  For instance, choosing good books is a great way to explore character and the use of literature to develop empathy is well-documented. Stories engage students’ imagination. They allow them to identify with the characters and assume their thoughts and actions. That’s where AnimalTales comes in. Each book focuses on animals or our relationship to them, and deals with a variety of topics – from the importance of being kind and compassionate to every living thing and responsible pet ownership, to handling pet loss in a healthy manner and bullying. Through sharing and discussing stories, as well as having meaningful reflection, students can build on their sense of compassion and empathy which they can apply in the classroom, school, home and community.

My students were very interested in the stories. They struggle to think of being kind to each other so the idea of being kind to animals allowed a starting point they all related to.

Grade 6 Teacher, Calgary

For those who don’t know, AnimalTales is a free book lending program that is mailed right to your school. Available in grades Kindergarten to Grade Six, these grade specific packages come with four books, a teacher’s guide, as well as online resources (smart board activities, podcasts, videos, etc). Included in the teacher’s guide are discussion questions, and pre and post reading cross-curricular activities tied to the Alberta Programs of Study. The activities are easily adaptable to suit your classroom and students and can be done in class or virtually. For more information on what to expect with AnimalTales, check out this past blog!

I enjoyed watching my students engaged in their learning. The program helped my students become more empathetic and compassionate towards their peers and animals.

Grade 2 Teacher, Drayton Valley

AnimalTales is available to request for this school year with new measures implemented to ensure the safety of you and your students in response to COVID-19. AnimalTales can be requested to arrive at your school as soon as possible, or you can schedule it to fit into your year plan. Teachers who complete the program can have their class added to the Kindness Map and will receive a class set of bookmarks!

A Message for Teachers:

Dear Teachers, Thank you for your hard work and dedication to students in this exceptional time. The need for caring for others is becoming ever more salient and we recognize and value the important role of teachers and learning communities in proving support and care that impact students, families, and the greater community. With this…Continue Reading

Students Making a Difference through ‘Class Action’

Service learning projects are a great way to address curricular outcomes while providing students the opportunity to leave a positive and lasting impact on the community. The Alberta SPCA’s ‘Class Action’ projects to help animals, people or the environment provide an opportunity to engage your students in service learning. One of the great things about…Continue Reading

Fostering Curiosity in the Classroom

Children are naturally curious. We know this from the numerous questions they ask each day. However, for some reason it seems as children get older the number of questions asked become fewer. As educators we want to encourage students to continue asking questions and to stay curious and engaged in learning, but how? We’ve all…Continue Reading

After the War: Animals Helping Veterans

Animals had, and continue to have an important role to play in war. In last year’s Remembrance Day blog we discussed the role animals played in The First World War. This year we are looking at service dogs, and the important role they have in helping veterans who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder…Continue Reading

Why Curiosity Matters

Curiosity is powerful. It encourages us to ask questions, seek answers, think critically, and find solutions to problems both big and small. It helps us to be open to others, build understanding and foster empathy – and it needs to be nurtured.  Astrophysicist and science educator, Neil deGrasse Tyson has lamented that “kids are born…Continue Reading

Summer Reads for Teachers

We usually highlight great animal-themed books for your students, but this list is just for you! The following suggested reads span fiction to non-fiction and are guaranteed to kindle your curiosity about animals and spark reflection about our relationship to them. Saving Manno by Spencer Sekyer (autobiographical, Canadian) Spencer Sekyer is a Sherwood Park teacher who…Continue Reading

Animals in the classroom: Responsibilities & Rewards

Mrs. Ainslie-O’Connor is a seasoned grade three teacher who has incorporated classroom animals in her teaching for about 10 years. I met with Mrs. Ainslie-O’Connor in her brightly lit grade three classroom in Spruce Grove and was introduced to some of her furry – and not so furry – friends.  She has a six-year old guinea…Continue Reading

Volunteer Spotlight – April 2019

The Alberta SPCA Education Department is fortunate to have two wonderful volunteers that help us connect teachers to humane education resources they can use in their classroom. Whether it is coming into the office once a week, or helping us at special events, our volunteers are an integral part of our department being able to…Continue Reading

What to Expect with AnimalTales

Are you thinking about getting AnimalTales but not sure what to expect? This blog is intended to give you a better idea of how AnimalTales can be used in your classroom. The AnimalTales program is easily adaptable; each activity can be modified to fit the needs of your class. You can spend as much or…Continue Reading

Blog posts represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Alberta SPCA.