Harry Potter, my classroom Iguana

During church Sunday, Sara asked those of us that work in the public school system to relate a highlight/success of their first week of school. Here is one that I was excited to share. It is a teaching strategy idea that she gave to me that really worked in my high school classroom!

As background, I had attended a teacher workshop prior to the beginning of school provided by our school system. It was about learning and employing teaching strategies and we were asked to implement them using our course specific content. The idea was to engage students and improve achievement. Sara likes for us to share with her what we, teachers, learn at these sessions each year and she interacts with us how we will practically utilize them. So, after sharing my content idea (something about comparing apple varieties) for teaching comparisons (similarities and differences) she offered one that she felt would excite the students even more, and it did. It was to use the class iguana, Harry Potter (see his picture…Sara named him), and have the students compare him to an alligator.


I drew two intersecting circles on a paper and had the students break into teams (this was the strategy I had learned at the teaching workshop). The students were to work as teams and write five things in each circle that were unique/different to the iguana and then to the alligator. They were then to write three things in the intersecting circles that were similar to both the iguana and the alligator. This really sparked their interest. They got interested in Harry Potter and wanted to handle him. By the way, Sara has never handled him!

They began interacting with one another. A leader/spokesperson emerged in each group. Each one shared, participated and worked together. And they came up with great comparison facts and reasoning from their brainstorming. That activity set the tone for the week and a great week it was!

Thanks Sara for your creative input! Maybe the Daily Lily writers would like to share some of their ideas that work and/or highlights from their first week of school.


Author: Debi

I live in Leesburg, Virginia where I teach high school students in the Agriculture Department. Additionaly, I am self-employed as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer. "Beefriend the Bees!" and "Neither Here Nor There" are children's books I wrote and illustrated available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Deborah Chaves&x=12&y=25. Other interests include singing and playing my guitar (also have a CD for sale on Amazon called "Gardening Therapy"); walking my American Bulldog, Cloud and Olde English Bulldogge, Sky; staying active in my local church, and blogging on the www.thedailylily.com.

8 thoughts on “Harry Potter, my classroom Iguana”

  1. I really love learning and growing. I really really really love hearing theory, strategy and having opportunity to practice the theory and then implementing and see and hear success.

    Who taught this workshop to give us this tool to communicate better?

    Harry Potter sure has grown since last school year? Does he still wear glasses?

  2. The workshop was taught by Dr. Roger W. Mackey, Professor of Education, Coordinator Urban Educational Ministries, Grove City College, PA.

    I haven’t seen Harry with his glasses on this year. They may have gotten hung up and lost in his fern plant. Speaking of glasses and eyesight…Harry is such an interesting character…as one student pointed out the other day, he has two eyelids.

  3. D.
    Your students discovery is fascinating. Does the student mean that Harry has two eyelids on each eye or or a total of 2 eyelids, meaning one on each eye?
    Just curious.
    Thanks for the info.

  4. Debi, This is an awesome idea. Harry Potter is a cool little guy. I know the kids loved working with such an awesome little creature. I am so shocked that Sara has not picked him up. i though she would have taken Harry for a ride to the coffee shop and out to lunch by now. I was watching a talk show one night and the show was on hypnotizing lizards. They had a young girl that would take here finger and lightly stroke the lizards belly. This would hypnotize the lizards for about 30 minutes. She would dress these lizards is dresses and different outfits and set them up to pose for a picture. Then she would take pictures of these lizards. While the lizards are hypnotized, they don’t move at all. They can be moved into different positions to pose for the pictures. Just make sure you get all the pictures taken within 30 minutes. The little girl stated that she had seen people hypnotize alligators by stroking their bellies, so she decided to try this on lizards. It worked. I don’t think they dressed the alligators up in dresses after they hypnotized them. Maybe you can try this on Harry. Sara can help you dress him and then she can take pictures of this cool little guy. Let me know how this works.

  5. WOW, this is amazing Chickenfamrer. I would love to help and that is help! We could get Dorothy to make his clothes. We already have his glasses. The students can hypnotize Harry and dress him and I can take the picture.

    I must say Harry P. is such an interesting little creature. His eyes just win your heart. He is the star of the show always.

    Debi, tell about when he lost his tail! By the way Chickenfarmer, you could write a skit on Bees and Iguanas. And, of course you and Needles could then steal the show with your performances.

  6. Debi,
    What a cool pet for your students. I did a little research on iguanas, after reading this blog. I read that when they are full grown, they are usually between 4 and 6 feet, and some can be up to 7 feet. How long is Harry? I also read that they have a good sense of hearing, smelling, and super vision. What an interesting creature! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Harry Potter is in for some interesting experiences….a photoshoot…wardrobe and the likes….seems employing the right strategy will surely get results…all Harry had to do was be who he really was and people love him and now hes got his own following plus a PR person..(Sara)…and care takers..(students and Debi) …..and wardrobe manager (Me..Dorothy)… Debi and Sara Good Job on getting the students going in the new year….they may even have an idea now of what they want to be when they graduate….maybe veterinarians with a knowledge of plants ……who knows…dj

  8. Well Sara, about Harry’s tail….One day, a couple of years ago when Harry Potter was much younger and smaller, a group of elementary students came to visit him. He had never had seen so many young visitors and didn’t understand that they had just come to pay him a friendly visit and find out more about him. He became very afraid and wanted to run away when I went to reach for him and bring him out of his home for them to see and touch. He must have thought they wanted to eat him for he threw his tail off at them as he wriggled to get away. We all screamed as his tail wiggled and twitched on the floor. One of my students calmed us down and told us that this was Harry’s defense mechanism against predators. In the wild an iguana will ‘drop’ its tail so the predator will be distracted and go after the wriggling tail instead of the fleeing iguana. Poor Harry. We all felt badly for him. He hid in his dark log for many weeks, a tail-less iguana. Finally the tail regrew but the new part is a different color.

    By the way Needles, Harry is about 15″ or so long now. And chickenfarmer, Harry and I are looking forward to watching your skit. He wanted to know, though, if he can get a bag of greens and squash blossoms (his favorite)instead of popcorn at the concession counter?

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