Saturday, November 17, 2012

Miss Nelson is Missing!

Publication Year: 1977
Author: Harry Allard
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Grade Level: Kindergarten to Grade 2
Theme: Good character
Skill Taught: Debating

Summary: This story is about a kind and sweet teacher anyone would be thankful to have, but her students treat Miss Nelson with disrespect.  One day, the class is so obnoxious and wild that Miss Nelson doesn't even return to school the following day.  The class instead gets a substitute teacher named Ms. Viola Swamp, who gives the students a lot of homework and has strict rules.  The class is afraid they will be stuck with her forever and try to get Miss. Nelson back.  Eventually, Miss. Nelson returns to school and the students improve their behavior so they don't lose her again.

About the Author: Harry Allard was born in Illinois on January 27, 1928.  He graduated from Northwestern College in 1943 and continued further education because of his love of learning.  He never planned on writing children's literature, but in the early 1970's, he teamed with James Marshall to collaborate on twelve books until Marshall's death in the 1990's.  (

For the Classroom

Pre-Reading Activity: Before reading, students would answers a couple of questions about the person opposite of who they are.  Questions would include, "What are you favorite activities to do?" "What is your biggest fear?" "What words would you use to describe yourself?" Students would be reminded to think of their opposite while answering these questions in their reader's notebook.  Their notebooks would be eventually collected at the end of the unit and I would check all assignments.  Following the activity, I would set the purpose for reading by having the students determine why Miss. Nelson left her classroom.

Post-Reading Activity: After reading the book, I would try to begin a class debate, but second grade might be too soon to do such an activity.  If the debate didn't work out, I would begin a class discussion asking the class, "Does a teacher have to be strict/mean in order for the students to learn?" "Are there bad things about being a nice teacher?" 

Reflection: I enjoyed reading this book because as a substitute teacher, I have experienced the well behaved classes, and the classes that were difficult to control.  Miss Nelson is Missing! is a book all teachers should use early in the beginning of the school year to help teach students the importance of respecting others.  This is a book that an educator could do multiple activities with, such as a character comparison chart, identifying clues to determine what happened to Miss Nelson, a letter persuading Miss Nelson to return back to school, or making predictions.  The book indirectly teaches and places the idea of good character in students' minds while reading, which is an effective way of learning.   
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