As this month comes to a close, I am most amazed by the wealth of ideas I have for possible slices each day. I started the month trying to figure out what to write about each day, but at the end of the month, I find the biggest challenges are: choosing only one of many topics and making time to write every day.
Tonight, I will choose the most recent moment, even though there is still more to write about our author visit. And, there was the lunch I had, yesterday, with my students who are also slicing. And, there are still so many moments to share from my trip to Japan, especially my visit to an elementary school. It looks like I have found the tools I need to keep blogging! Maybe I will challenge myself to another month of daily writing? My students tell me they will join me for NaPoWriMo! But, that is also a slice for another day.
The most recent moment just wrapped up in my classroom. Eight families came together for our second meeting of our family read aloud book club. We are reading Wonder. The evening began with the energy of third graders excited to come to school and see each other again…at night! My energy was barely there since jet lag hit me like a wall on day three of my return from Japan. I soaked up some of that giddy joy and the happiness that is talking-about-books, and got our meeting started.
We settled in at the tables in our classroom, and I showed a video to set up the theme of our meeting. You can watch it here. We discussed what we’d noticed, and students shared what they noticed. The words I asked them to focus on were, “I could do something,” which is the message of the video, and a theme of Wonder.
We moved to our group meeting area, and I read the chapter, Choose Kindness. As I read, students were reading in their own copies of Wonder. At one moment, I looked up to see every child in a comfy position, sitting or stretched out on mats in front of me, intently focused on their books. The moment literally caused me to get goosebumps. This, I thought, is why I share books. I felt like there was a current connecting us through words.
When I finished the chapter, I told them that the words, “Choose kind,” and, “I could do something,” were rolling around in my mind, and I wondered aloud, “Are these words rolling around in your heads, too?” Heads nodded. I added, “I have two quotes I’d like to share with you that I think are related.” These are the quotes I passed out on small sheets:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of
the people who don’t do anything about it.”
― Albert Einstein
We focused in on the Albert Einstein quote, noting the connection to the words: “I could do something.” With that in mind, we returned to our tables to make some posters. On one side, students and their families wrote the question, What are some examples of times when it is hard to choose kind? On the other side, they wrote, What can we do to help ourselves make kind choices? Then they discussed and brainstormed ideas, listing them on their poster papers. Ideas that were shared included: It’s hard to choose kind with my siblings. It’s hard to choose kind when you feel shy. It’s hard to choose kind when others are older and bigger.
So true. We took these thoughts with us when we returned to our group meeting area for one last book: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. If you’ve never read it, head to your nearest library or bookstore. It is excellent, and a powerful tool for discussing the realities of school and ways that students can do something kind. These were the words I left my group with: I could do something kind. These are the words that I will be repeating now, when our whole class comes together tomorrow, and I read The Invisible Boy to all my students.
As we creep closer to the weeks of standardized tests, I am reminded that there are things we teach that will never show up on a test, but they might be the things that matter most. Imagine if we all lived these words:
- Everyone is a genius.
- I could do something kind.
I know we would all live better lives.