Coming Full Circle With the Wonder of Wonder & Part 2: Julian’s Chapter

julians chapter

A little background…

During the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, my school read Wonder by RJ Palacio for our first “One Book One School” event and promoted the book’s “Choose Kind” message all year long. Students embraced the story and it was a great experience! My students and I used this resource from the Help Readers Love Reading blog and it helped tremendously with student background knowledge and prompting discussions. I highly recommend checking both Wonder and pairing it with this blog if you haven’t already. As you can imagine, it was very exciting and rewarding to discuss and refer to Wonder with students and staff members throughout the year.

Fast forward to May….

This spring, RJ Palacio released an ebook companion to Wonder called “Julian’s Chapter”. If you haven’t read Wonder, Julian is the bully and antagonist of the story that creates a lot of trouble throughout the book. Like any good reading teacher, I kept the release to myself, as I wanted to surprise my students with it and wow, were they excited! They remembered Julian as the bully and mean kid and did not have nice things to say about him. We read “Julian’s Chapter” over the course of a little over a week (it’s a lot longer than I thought it would be) and it was a great way to end the school year. I read it with the students and didn’t preview it ahead of time. This lead to some great discussions as we found things out together.The Help Readers Love Reading blog has some great resources for Julian’s chapter, too. It’s no surprise that reading a story from the bully’s perspective is a unique opportunity and students learned a lot from this read aloud. Every story has two sides and by the end, we appreciated that Palacio gave her readers more story.

Without giving too much away, “Julian’s Chapter” gives insight into why Julian acts the way he does, his home life and how he comes to terms with what happened during his fifth grade school year. He goes to visit his grandmother in Paris and this was my favorite part of the story. His grandmother tells a story from her childhood that Julian has not heard, and it kept my students and I on the edge of our seats. Full disclosure, this part really got me choked up and there was a mad dash to get the teacher some tissues that day! Overall, revisiting RJ Palacio’s characters was a great experience, and one that I’m sure students will remember for a long, long time.

Looking back……

As an educator, it doesn’t get better than this. Through two stories, and lots of discussions over the course of 8 months, we ended the school year full circle – promoting the “Choose Kind” message with a shared reading experience that students will not soon forget.

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up – What’s Going on in Room 213?

What an awesome week in room 213! Lots of new activities and even a celebration. Here’s a snapshot of how it went!

Monday:

In first period we finished reading Wonder. While we were sad it was over, we loved this special book. We started planning a birthday party for Auggie, too. Ideas included bringing in dogs, watching Auggie Doggie cartoons, wearing Star Wars’ masks, and bringing in party food to share. While some ideas wouldn’t work with our schedule, I promised students we would have a fun time on Thursday. Students also started preparing for their end of the quarter independent reading project which will be a Smore Page. We will work on this next week in the computer lab and students can also access their projects at home.

Other classes finished reading our first class novel Seedfolks. We also worked on our Vocabulary Collector “Meaningful Writing Activity” for the week – we picked four of our self chosen words and worked on writing definitions, parts of speech, sentences and a “Mr. Stick Man” picture that shows the meaning of our word. A lot of us had trouble using the dictionary, so this was a great activity. This will now be an every other week assignment for the rest of the semester.

All classes took their first “Academic Vocabulary Verb” word list pre assessment and our words of the week were analyze, articulate and cite.  We went over assessments on Tuesday and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday went over a word a day, specifically relating the word to other content classes. Assessments, which asked students to define each word and then apply the words to math, science, and social studies were given on Friday. A lot of great conversations were had at the beginning and end of class over these three words.

Tuesday:

First period continued working on their reading project graphic organizer and students had questions about how to figure out the genre of their book. We also went to the library for our bimonthly visit. Students asked where the award winners section was in the library, because one of their reading requirements for the year is to read at least one award winning book. Our library does not have a specific award winner section, so I promised students we would go over genre and award winners on Wednesday.

Other classes were introduced to Class Dojo – an online behavior management system that rewards students for good behavior and helps students pinpoint what they need to work on. So far students LOVE Dojo and we are having fun with it. Each student has their own monster avatar, so I have been (affectionately of course!) calling them my little monsters. We set a goal of earning 20 positive points each by Friday to be given the chance to change avatars. What a motivator! Class Dojo has already made a difference. We are showing up to class prepared, being more kind and helpful and staying on task.

Wednesday:

1st period was given two quick mini lessons on award winning books and genre. I created a google doc of links to lists of award winning books and put it on our Symbaloo page. We covered the Newbery, Sibert and Printz award winning lists and why they are given to authors. Secondly, I gave students a very detailed flow chart about genre. They start with Non Fiction and Fiction at the top, answer questions about their books, and follow the arrows. We also took notes on several basic genres – realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, and autobiography and biography. We also talked about graphic novels and picture books being formats, not genres. It was a great discussion!

In other classes, students finished up their Vocabulary “MWA” and had lots of time to read independently. We charted how many pages we read at the end of class.

Thursday:

1st period celebrated Auggie’s birthday with lots of food, music and a special surprise. We listened to Natalie Merchant’s Wonder and watched the video for Sara Bariellies’ Be Brave. We also made a short video – sending special messages to Auggie and others about our favorite and most important parts of RJ Palacio’s book. Here’s our video:

2nd period through 7th period worked on reflecting on Seedfolks by writing headlines for their favorite chapters. We used old newspapers as mentor texts and talked about what a headline looks like. Student then chose their favorite characters and wrote creative headlines. This visible thinking activity is a great after reading activity. I will blog about it soon. I also showed students a video to get them thinking about what they would do if they had just one day to live. If you haven’t seen this video, it is very, very powerful. My eighth graders were especially reflective and insightful when it was over. Many told me later that they showed their parents the video when they went home. At the end of class I told them that we would be participating in something called Genius Hour on Friday and I hoped they would all be here to check it out. They left class intrigued and with lots of questions!

Friday:

6th grade student council election speeches were held in the auditorium for most of the period, but we had a few minutes after they were over to watch our video that we made the day before. I also showed students that I had sent RJ Palacio a tweet to show her our video and she then retweeted and favorited it. Needless to say, they are all so very proud of themselves and their newfound internet celebrity status!

My other classes took their Academic Vocabulary assessments and then we celebrated the Vocabulary Collectors of the Week who excelled on their WPA for the week. Students then logged onto their Chromebooks, which we are signed up to use every other week. I had them write down 4 things they love to do and are interested in on a notecard. They visited Wonderopolis and looked at the Wonders of the Day archives to add things to their notecards. After about 15 minutes of exploration, we stopped and I explained to students what Genuis Hour is all about. They will be given time in class to study a topic of their choice and become experts on the topic. Lots of research will be involved and they will also be required to present their Genius Hour projects before the end of the semester. By the end of the day I had answered around 75 questions and students had a much better idea of what it will look like. Preliminary project ideas include a website about cyber bullying, a video on how to shoot the perfect jump shot, a stop motion lego movie, research about cancer, how jelly beans are made and a modeling blog. Next week we will narrow down our focus and make timelines.

Phew! This week had just the right amount of new activities, celebrating of books, and fun! I hope you had a great week with your students as well!

Lesley ♥