When it comes to teaching, Lisa Steele doesn't mind sharing her daily tasks at Ooltewah Elementary with a furry critter, a few water dwellers, and some rough characters. "I realized that children have lots of different learning styles and there's lots of different intelligences and so some children are connected to nature."
Steele uses animals at expand her lesson plans. Take Chester for example. The Lion's Head Bunny helped her 2nd grade class grasp the concept of shapes. "In the middle of Math class Chester decides he's going to come and play with the ball and push it across the carpet, and so of course everybody laughs about Chester, but what they remember is that Chester was pushing the sphere."
Chester, Cisco the Bearded Dragon, and their compadres provide hooks for science, during lessons on habitats and the environment. They also make for easy topics to create stories about during writers workshop. Student Caleb Lancaster says "we draw a picture and then we write about it and I drew a picture and I wrote about it and I almost made it to like the 3rd page."
For as long as she can remember, Steele wanted to be a teacher. Her mother and several relatives made a living in the profession, which she first devoted herself to 30-years ago. "I have found that I'm very fortunate because I get paid for what I love to do and not everybody gets to do that."
Steele strives to create an environment that learners want to be in, and also uses visual arts, drama, and songs to keep her class engaged.
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