Having a positive character in the classroom is more important now than ever before. With so many demands on instructional time, it can be challenging to work in community building, problem solving, work on building self esteem, and the many keys to healthy living and socialization. Our counselors are stretched thin, but there are ways that we can all work on these topics. In our reading lessons, we can try to get more from our teaching “buck” by building on these themes through literature and writing. Today, I want to share with you a few titles and ideas I’ve come across that you could include within your lessons.
Books that Build the Classroom Routine:
The Bad Seed by Jory John:
The book is about a poor young girl who is new to the class. She comes in with short sleeves and sandals in the middle of winter dirty, sad, and embarrassed. Kids whisper and no one welcomes her in. They treat her badly and then, one day she’s gone. They’re left with guilt.
In this unit, I use the book first for theme building. Teachers compare/contrast theme to main idea, analyze quotes from the story, discuss with guiding questions, and explore story vocabulary, etc. Then, students work on applying the theme to their own classroom with a Kindness in the Classroom lapbook which allows students to think about themselves, their classroom, their communities, and their families. Finally, there is a class book where students introduce themselves. The finished book could be given to new students to read and add to so that hopefully, no students would be treated like Anna.
Bully by: Patricia Polacco
In this unit, I include before, during, and after activities you can use to work on schema building, vocabulary, cause/effect relationships, making comparisons between books and characters, and summarizing before moving on to persuasive writing about why bullying is wrong and how to overcome it.