“Then, he smiled a froggy smile…”

The first week of the semester is almost over. I survived my first two stats classes (a ph.d. student’s rite-of-passage and the last class of my own ph.d. career), and taught my own first class meetings. My first blog post asked what you would read, and I thought it only appropriate that I follow up with what I actually read in one of my classes.

Crafting Teaching Practice: Elementary Language Arts – this is the first time I’m teaching the course and I was actually a bit nervous. In class on Tuesday, we talked about who we are as learners and the ways that can impact the decisions we make in a classroom (both as teachers and students). We also talked about how the similarities and differences that we share as learners all contribute to creating a unique learning community, and that we all contribute to each other’s learning. I am very consciously and purposefully using “we” here, because I am always learning from my students (one of the things I love most about teaching). So, what to read with them? I had a number of choices depicting different types of teachers and/or students and/or relationships. Ultimately, I didn’t go with any of them. I ended up reading City Dog, Country Frog (Willems/Muth).

I have loved this book since it first came out – the illustrations are beautiful and the way that they work together with the text are sublime. I read it in the closing minutes of class and asked students to put every thing away and just listen. The listening silence that I hope for was there after a few pages. The bittersweet ending seemed to surprise some of them. But then I told them why I shared this particular book. City Dog carries Country Frog’s friendship  with him. We see it in the illustration of his “froggy smile”.

I think that teaching and learning communities are similar; we carry learning experiences (both formal and informal) with us as we move through our lives. I asked my students to think about the fact that not only are they bringing their experiences as students with them to our classroom, but that they also will be creating experiences for their own students in their internship placements and future classrooms.


9 thoughts on ““Then, he smiled a froggy smile…”

  1. Having a consciousness of the value behind both formal and informal learning experiences is crucial. It’s so great that on the first day of class you were able to capture the “listening silence” that you had hoped for, it has set a tone that will undoubtedly impact that rest of the semester, both formally and informally.

  2. I think that was a great book choice — both to give the ideas that both sides (city/country, teaching/learning) work in partnership, but also because the unexpectedly powerful ending also shows that sometimes something in a class (either for teacher or student) can unexpectedly strike like lightning, profoundly affecting the recipient.

  3. A teacher once told me that she loves to read this book at the end of the year, to share how even though the class will say goodbye, they will make new friends next year and remember each other. The double spread page with no words – waiting – gets me every time. And that froggy smile! a.

  4. I first picked this book up in my daughters livingroom/library. I was struck by the beauty of the artwork as well as its ability to convey the feelings going on in side the frog and dog. Plus I love frogs! As humans we are genetically determined to grow all our lives. Though phisical growth ends our mental/spiritual growth continues. That appears to be true in City Dog as well. That gave me hope and brought a smile to my face. I plan to read this to the children at OMPS library. Thanks Kris.

  5. I love that book. I remember when I heard that Mo Willem’s was releasing a book where he didn’t do the illustrations and I thought “whatever for?” but as soon as I finally saw it I knew. The pictures are a perfect fit for the story.

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