Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The wonder that is Wonder has hit Versailles Middle School in rural Ohio. All students in fifth through eighth grades have met Auggie and have heard his story.
Our experience started one day last spring as an innocent conversation over lunch.
"I've heard of schools that select one book to read. I wonder if we could do that here."
"Have you read Wonder by R.J. Palacio?"
Here are some of our plans that have transpired since that initial lunchtime conversation...
*Middle school teachers read Wonder at the end of last year and over the summer and agreed that this book would be the perfect way to begin a new school year.
*Our principal ordered all of our language arts teachers a copy of Wonder to be read aloud to the students.
*Parents were invited to join in the reading of Wonder. A letter was sent out during the first week of school inviting them to read along with their child. Parents secured a copy of Wonder at the bookstore of their choice, at a local library, or sent in payment to their child's teacher for the book to be ordered for them. A total of 79 books were ordered and delivered to parents!
*Tomorrow, October 10 is Auggie's birthday! Students will be signing the Choose Kind pledge HERE. (Random House Children's Books will donate $1 to PACER'S National Bullying Prevention Center for every pledge in October.) Students will also be signing two huge "Choose Kind" signs that will hang in our hallway at school. Some classrooms have planned a birthday celebration to include cupcakes and 'gifts' for Auggie. A post will run later this week with a wrap-up of our festivities.
*Parents are invited to join a Skype visit with author R.J. Palacio on Wednesday, October 17. Our fifth through eighth grade students will meet R. J. Palacio via Skype in our theater. I will be sure to post about our meeting after it takes place.
*On October 22 at 7:00-8:00 in the evening, parents who have read Wonder are invited to a Grand Discussion. Parents and students will come together for an evening of discussion around Auggie's story. It is our goal to provide parents and their child with the time to share a great book and a fun evening in which to discuss it.
Our students and staff feel blessed to have shared this story together. So many valuable discussions have resulted. Following are some more ideas that our teachers have used with students in their classrooms...
**There is a weekly quote in my classroom. The students write our weekly quote in their Language Arts notebook each Monday. Attendance is taken every day with each student repeating the weekly quote. After six weeks, the students can recite all of the weekly quotes we have had since the beginning of school!
Week 1 Quote = "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." -Aesop
Week 2 Quote = "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." -Wonder
Week 3 Quote = "Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up." -Jesse Jackson
Week 4 Quote = "Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns." -Author Unknown
Week 5 Quote = "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -Mother Teresa
Week 6 Quote = "Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness." -Seneca
Week 7 Quote = "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
**I have been sharing the CCA (Children's Craniofacial Association) Kids Blog with my students. They are amazed by the stories of the kids that we have read there. Most recently, Peter's story has touched us. He and Auggie share so many similarities.
**One of our seventh grade teachers had her students draw a picture of what they thought Auggie looked like as she read. She then held the pictures up in front of the class and they had a discussion about their reactions to the drawings and how those reactions would be similar or different if they met Auggie face to face. This led to a discussion on empathy and acceptance. "It was very powerful," said the teacher.
**The seventh grade teachers had their classes write letters to Julian's mother after learning how Mrs. Albans felt about Auggie being at school with her son. The letters were written in groups and contained powerful words for Julian's mother.
Versailles Middle School says, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUGGIE!" We will keep everyone updated on our celebrations, our Skype visit with R.J. Palacio, and our Grand Discussion coming up at the end of October.
Mrs. T :)
P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!