A visit from high school student, Emma Cribbs, and her duckling, Artie, sparked the idea for a lesson that would tie together English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and real-world experiences in Michele Cribbs' second grade class. As Emma and Artie walked into the Nicely Elementary classroom, the students’ natural curiosity was piqued and they began generating questions about the downy duckling. After their guests left, the enthralled students begged for Artie to come back for another visit.
Because Miss Cribbs believes that students learn best and become attached to their work when they can apply it to real-world examples, she searched through her collection of books and found Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, deciding it would be a perfect fit for a series of lessons developed around their new friend, Artie. Seeing that an important character in the book was a friendly police officer named Michael, Miss Cribbs invited Officer Jason Dieter, a patrolman who frequently visits the students at Nicely, to come to her class and help bring the book to life.
As Miss Cribbs read Make Way for Ducklings, a story about a mallard family who makes their home near downtown Boston, Officer Dieter and Artie listened in the crowd of fascinated second-grade students. After the story, Miss Cribbs reinforced that police officers protect everything that embodies our community, just as Michael the Policeman protected the mallard family as they crossed the busy streets of the bustling city of Boston. Students loved hearing that Officer Dieter takes time every day to feed the ducks he sees as he is patrolling around Greensburg. In order to show gratitude for the actions police officers take to keep students, their families, and the community safe, the class then shared donuts with Officer Dieter and had the opportunity to ask him questions about his job. Later that day, Miss Cribbs led her students in investigating a feather kit to learn about the types of feathers found on ducks. She incorporated new vocabulary words from Make Way for Ducklings likes "molting" and "habitat" into their investigation. By observing her students and tapping in to their interest in their new feathered friend, Artie, Miss Cribbs was able to engage and intrigue her class with a student-centered lesson to teach new concepts and skills, as well as connect their learning to the real world. Second grade can't wait to have Officer Dieter and Artie visit again soon!