Monday, September 3, 2012

Wonder-ful

I read the book  Wonder by R.J. Palacio  after hearing Donalyn Miller book talk it at the SCASL conference.  I enjoyed the book and especially loved the quotes at the beginning of each section. Of course, I passed the book on to my students and teachers, urging them to read it. Not long after I finished reading Wonder, our school began forming and training an anti-bullying committee. I knew this awesome book would  perfectly compliment our school's anti-bullying efforts.

I recommended it to the principal for a school wide read, and he thought it was a fantastic idea. We pitched the idea to the faculty at our beginning of the year anti-bullying training. The faculty liked the idea of doing a school wide read-aloud too. We purchased a copy of Wonder for every homeroom teacher.

Every morning at 8:00, teachers fire up their document cameras and LCD projectors and display the book on their whiteboards so students can follow along as the book is read to them over the school's PA system. The whole school listens and reads the book together. It's magical on a level that is usually lost in middle schools.

The principal read the introduction. 

I read the first chapter.

Mrs. Sommer-Gough and Ms. Sommer, two teachers, who were hand-picked for their excellent talents in reading books aloud, have been taking turns reading the rest of the book. They read for 15 minutes each morning, stopping five minutes short of the end of the period to give time for discussion. 

We have been doing this for a seven days now, and already this has been an amazing experience. It feels powerful and good. The students and the teachers love the book. They love reading it together, and now we all have one more thing in common with each other, which strengthens our school community. It is an excellent way to begin a school day.

Teachers tell me how much they love the book, how much the students love the book, they tell me how much they enjoy the way Mrs. Sommer-Gough and Ms. Sommer read, and they share insightful student comments and connections their students are making. Students tell me how much they love the book. Do they know how happy it makes me to hear this?

I am creating a blog to serve as a place for more discussion. This school wide read-aloud  is Wonder-ful on many levels.  It makes me feel the impact that books can have on people. I want more of this.

I think everyone else does too.



















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