This year our fifth graders read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Wonder, a favorite among NEMJDS students, is the story of August Pullman, a fifth grader with a craniofacial anamoly, and his experiences going from home school to public school. This books focuses on kindness and the importance of point of view.
As our final project for Wonder, students hosted their own Choose Kind Day. They first made t-shirts with the Choose Kind message. Their t-shirts included their interpretation of precepts. The precepts the students selected came from Wonder and included “Fortune Favors the Bold” and “Kind Words Do Not Cost Much. Yet they accomplish much.” Throughout our time reading the book, students began class each day with a different precept, and one student led the discussion and explained their interpretation of the precept. In addition to getting our students thinking about kindness, this daily exercise developed the fifth graders’ leadership and analytical skills.
After the students made their t-shirts, they worked together to plan a presentation about kindness for the younger grades. The fifth graders read Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches to first grade and the Wonder illustrated children’s book to the kindergarteners. The fifth graders then asked the younger students comprehension questions and worked with them to think about implementing more kindness into their own behaviors.
If you saw a fifth grader on Choose Kind Day, you also might have noticed the students were wearing stickers that said, “Ask Me About Choose Kind!” This provided an opportunity for our students to share the Choose Kind message and engage with other students and adults.
Overall, this unit was a way for our students to strengthen their literary analysis skills by examining various points of view from the novel and also a way for our students to internalize our school value of kindness.