"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Come With Me, It Takes a Village... of Kindness

The second graders have been focusing on kindness this month. We're reading picture books that shine the light on kindness in different ways. We started out in a familiar setting, the school setting by reading Each Kindness and I'm New Here. You can see how the students responded in this post. The next week, we narrowed our focus to the individual level by focusing on human interactions and seeing (not looking) at those around us. We read Why Am I Me?, We're All Wonders, and Be a Friend. You can see how the students responded to these books on this post. 

This week, we expanded our scope to the broader community. First we read Come With Me by Holly McGhee and illustrated by Pascal LemaĆ®tre.  
I read the dedication with the students because it is not only empowering, it also helps set the stage for the book. 

You know a book is timely and important when students give you the "me too" signal when reading this page. It made me sad, but also thankful that there are books that can help start necessary conversations like this one.

The young girl wants to make the world a better place and her parents help her do this by inviting her to witness their world, "Come with me," they say. They go out into their urban neighborhood and interact with others, in simple but powerful ways like greeting those they meet along the way -- building that global community one smile at a time. They also take her shopping at their local grocery, where she sees that she is part of a multicultural pluralistic society where each person is seen as an individual.

Ultimately the girl is ready to head out on her own, which her parents allow, not letting fear get in their way. When the young boy from across the hall wants to know where she is heading she invites him along, knowing that two people working together can do even more. She offers the familiar refrain of Come With Me reminding readers that sometimes we are invited and sometimes we invite others. 

Each act of kindness ripples out making the world a better place (to take a line from Each Kindness).

I won't spoil the ending, but it is perfect and empowering and filled with hope. Holly McGhee and Pascal LemaƮtre's book is a seamless and beautiful thing.

I asked my students what they were doing or wanted to do to make our community/world a better place. I invited them to draw their hands around the world (which we forgot to color) because it symbolizes that invitation - to reach out to help. Here are some of their responses:

Next we read It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton and illustrated by Marla Frazee. Hillary Clinton's Clinton's spare and empowering text is perfectly paired with Marla Frazee's art, both invite children to envision themselves as valuable members and builders of the village. 
The book starts off encouraging children to see themselves as important members of the village. 

This spread below got a good laugh at the idea of there being instructions, but also allowed for a conversation about life being a journey and making mistakes being part of that journey.

I can't stress how much I value the message in these next pages. Its important for children to know and see that all members of our community contribute and are valued.

My students loved the finished playground (great analogy). The final sentence is a clarion call to ensure the village is worthy of all children. The students and I talked about the things that are necessary in a village/community. After our discussion, they built communities, each adding their own building block of what they felt was important.

I am tempted to read one more book, Kadir Nelson's If You Plant a Seed, which I would have included but it had been checked out! Add it to your lesson if you have it. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fifth Graders Pitch Picture Book Ideas

My fifth graders have been engaged in a digital citizenship/picture book month mash up. They learned about Picture Book Month by evaluating the website and gathering information, using the document below.

Leading up to this unit, the students have read and discussed books that demonstrate the power of story in picture books. Today, they started thinking about the picture book they would write - the story they wanted to tell. I used this stack of picture books as examples of mentor texts. These are books I have read with them in the past. 
I talked about drawing upon where you live, family history, or an emotion as an idea for a story.
I talked about drawing upon a passion, an experience, or an event as an idea for a story. 
I talked about drawing upon an historic event or fact, humor, or a common childhood misunderstanding for a story.

Here's where the digital citizenship came into play. The students needed to pitch their idea on a Padlet. The students shared what they know about posting their work on the web and demonstrated a clear understanding of what their posts and comments should look like and sound like. I reminded them that this is yet another opportunity to practice and learn. And yes, I did something I hadn't done in a while. I opened up the comments option and invited the students to read each other's ideas and then comment. They handled it all pretty well. 

Their picture book pitches range from personal stories to complete fantasies. It's cool to see how they responded to this opportunity.

We'll be moving onto using some digital storytelling to get these stories off the ground. The plan is to ultimately share them with their buddies. I am excited for the next few weeks!

Have a look at some of their ideas and the comments: