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SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHERS, COUNSELORS, AND GROUP LEADERS
I originally developed this book to give teens a self-generated journey to success. But I tested and reﬁned the activities with groups of teens ranging in number from ﬁve to ﬁfty. Thus, although each reader will have to do the work required to set an individual course to success, most of these activities can be shared in a group setting.
To help you facilitate that process, I offer suggestions for sharing some of the activities with groups. Whenever appropriate, I also include personal comments on how to make each activity most effective.
ACTIVITY #1 SUGGESTIONS:
Depending on the size of the group, ﬁlling out and sharing the favorites list takes about half an hour. If you want this exercise to take an entire class period, (I always did because teens LOVE this “Return to Childhood” day), you may include warm-up exercises such as reading aloud a favorite children’s book or having them draw a picture with crayons.
Teens relish talking about their favorites even as they ﬁll in the list. Encourage them to save their comments until after everyone has ﬁnished writing, then allow them to say as much as they wish. Let the sharing ﬂow spontaneously. Each group will favor different topics to discuss. Some teens will have much to say, and their enthusiasm becomes contagious. Feel free to contribute your own favorites as much as possible. It humanizes you to the group and makes the entire process more inviting. Surprisingly, thanks to tele- vision reruns and pop culture nostalgia, your sharing will not date you, but rather create a common bond with your teen participants.
Teens of all ages relish the chance to remember and talk about their past. If you have a close-knit group, they’ll feel even more free to share comic, embarrassing, even moving experiences.
Although this day is usually fun and happy, some- times reminiscing brings up sad memories that deserve attention. On those rare times when teens have painful experiences to share, give them time to express and process their feelings. Their peers will be tremendously supportive, and by providing a safe environment to share and giving them encouraging feedback, you can help teens heal old wounds they’ve carried with them for a long time.
ACTIVITY #2 SUGGESTIONS:
To help teens generate possible answers, lead a brainstorming session. Let them suggest possible activities, events, hobbies, projects, skills, talents, etc. Once they realize how vast their range of answers can be, they’ll more easily and thoroughly complete this activity.
ACTIVITY #3 SUGGESTIONS:
The biggest challenge most people have is discover- ing their passion. Many teens have only begun to explore what they like, and how those interests can translate into their life’s Work. Use yourself as an example, or ﬁnd articles (or young adult biographies of people that teens like and have heard of) to illustrate the power of passion and pursuing one’s real dreams. Illustrations abound, and they are often more convincing than direct instruction.
ACTIVITY #7 SUGGESTIONS:
Make sure that the new routines that your group members adopt are not counterproductive to their life’s Work. The purpose of changing a routine is to stay passionate about their life and goals. Some teens mistakenly think that changing a routine requires choosing an entirely new dream. To the contrary, it requires ﬁnding new strategies to stay excited about the path they’re already on.
ACTIVITY #8 SUGGESTIONS:
If you have the time and inclination, you can let your group members keep an extra copy of their “To Do” list in the room where you meet. Occasionally, peruse the lists to encourage their success, to note when they’re not making much progress, or to watch for opportunities that might help teens achieve their goals.
ACTIVITY #9 SUGGESTIONS:
Counselors are especially adept at helping teens distinguish between issues that are theirs and someone else’s. One verbal skill that helps teens take ownership of, and responsibility for, their own issues is expressing their feelings and thoughts in ﬁrst person. Using “I” to describe a feeling, especially in relation to others, is empowering. If the “I” point of view doesn’t ﬁt well in the context of the issue they’re exploring, it’s probably one the teen could let go of.
Once, when practicing this ﬁrst-person exercise, one of my students merely added “I think” to the begin- ning of the same thought he was expressing. When he said aloud, “I think she should . . .,” he, as well as everyone else, knew without doubt that “she should” held all the power of that sentence. Hearing himself say it aloud helped him recognize an issue that wasn’t his.
ACTIVITY #10 SUGGESTIONS:
If you’re in a retreat setting, this activity can be very effective. It gives you the opportunity to show a ﬁlm in its entirety instead of dividing it into two or more class periods. (Sometimes having to interrupt viewing to ﬁt into school schedules lessens the impact.)
Even though not all teens will share the same view of what is and isn’t life-afﬁrming, there are universal themes of courage, fortitude, and self-sacriﬁce that impact nearly all people.
If you show an older ﬁlm, sometimes you need to give teens background information about the context of the time period for them to understand certain challenges. For example, some teens cannot fathom a time when women or minorities were not permitted to enroll in some colleges.
“Not permitted?” they ask. “What do you mean, not permitted?” The concept seems totally beyond their grasp.
Although it never stopped me from showing It’s a Wonderful Life (my favorite inspirational ﬁlm), some teens complain about having to watch black and white movies. Usually just warning them before you start the ﬁlm (or, better yet, offering them a reading assignment as an alternative) eclipses any griping.
ACTIVITY #11 SUGGESTIONS:
This activity makes a great ice breaker. Often I pair teens up with someone they don’t know well and let them describe and explain their lifeboards to one another before we start sharing as a group.
As an alternative to having teens share their own lifeboards to the entire group, I sometimes invite teens
to describe their partner’s lifeboard and explain what they learned about the other teen that they didn’t know before.
Whenever I have teens pair up one-on-one for an activity, I mingle among the pairs, offering suggestions or encouragement when appropriate. If there is an odd number of participants in a group, I become an active participant and pair up with one of the teens myself.
ACTIVITY #13 SUGGESTIONS:
If you have the time and inclination, you can let your group members keep an extra copy of their cards in the room where you meet. Occasionally, peruse the lists to encourage their success, note when they’re not making much progress, or watch for opportunities that might help teens achieve their goals.
ACTIVITY #14 SUGGESTIONS:
As often as possible, notice and remark about teens demonstrating excellence. Often teens assume that the most studious member (and often not one of their more popular peers) has cornered the market on excellence by making perfect grades. By recognizing and praising students for expressing excellence in different ways and in different tasks, you invite all group members to consider how they may be demonstrating excellence in tasks they take for granted.
Consider social, artistic, athletic, and scholastic achievements. Note unique aptitudes, such as trivia knowledge, or hobbies that take skill, such as chess, skateboarding, even outﬁt coordinating. Though they feel uncomfortable asking for it, teens thrive on praise, especially when it allows them to explore their true passions without ridicule or condemnation.
ACTIVITY #16 SUGGESTIONS:
Most classroom teachers have extra activities on hand to give students who ﬁnish assignments early.
Often, however, students who’ve completed their class work don’t want to ﬁll in a worksheet, do word puzzles, or read a novel. Thus, encourage your group members to leave in the room where you meet materials that allow them to work on their dreams whenever time permits. Let them store this material with the extra copies of the 3 x 5 cards you invited them to keep in the room. With the materials at their disposal, they’ll have no reason to complain of being bored. Even better, if there are exercises that don’t apply to some group members, you can invite them to work on their own dream activi- ties without your having to ﬁnd something constructive for them to do.
ACTIVITY #18 SUGGESTIONS:
When you request that teens leave in the room materials that will help them use all their time wisely, do the same yourself. Keep some of your own back-up materials with the teens’ index cards and materials. Whenever possible, demonstrate constructive use of your time by pulling out those materials when you’re not doing anything pressing. As you retrieve the materials and work on your dream, let group members know what you’re doing.
Telling teens that something is worthwhile makes a small impression. Showing them through action that you believe what you teach them makes an indelible impact.
ACTIVITY #19 SUGGESTIONS:
As always, use yourself as a model for success. Teens like the personalized touches that make a teacher, counselor, or group leader more human. Find your own trigger for happiness (or a replica of it if it’s something you need to safeguard) and leave it in plain view. As always, explain to teens what you’re doing so they can see effective life strategies in action.
ACTIVITY #20 SUGGESTIONS:
To begin this process, you may want to give each teen a seed of good luck and suggest they pass it on, then see what results. Another very effective strategy is to create a simple note that you can share with a teen at the appropriate time. For example, I draw a smiling face on a card and write, “Every time you look at this card today, you have my permission to feel happy for one full minute.” When teens have a bad day, I discretely slip them the card.
If they seem more troubled or concerned, and they don’t want to accept my invitation to talk, I sometimes give them another note that reads, “Sorry you’re having a hard time. You’re not alone. I’ll be thinking of you today, and wishing great things for you. Mr. Leslie.” It’s a simple kindness that often makes a huge difference.
ACTIVITY #22 SUGGESTIONS:
Many teens aren’t clear about what values are, let alone what their values are. To help them identify their own values, you can dream up fun and enlightening moral dilemma questions for them to answer. I created about one hundred moral dilemmas and wrote each on an index card.
Sample moral dilemma card:
“You ﬁnd a wad of money in a locker at the gym. Because no one else is there to claim it, you put it in your gym bag and head for the door. As you do, another person runs into the locker room and frantically begins searching for something. What do you do?”
I divide the group into clusters of about eight people, then hand each cluster part of the stack. I let them answer and discuss their responses, explaining their choices.
When clusters ﬁnish one stack, they exchange with another cluster until every teen has had the opportunity to answer and discuss every dilemma.
It’s a fun exercise and a great learning tool. From it, teens recognize the values that inspire their decisions. They draw sometimes surprising conclusions about their thoughts and behaviors. They see how many different ways there are to perceive the same situation. They also (usually good-humoredly) pick out the honest and untrustworthy people in the group.
ACTIVITY #26 SUGGESTIONS:
Consider starting a Bravehearts Club. (Because this title may date the exercise, you might let your group come up with its own name for it.) The club is dedicated to challenging each member to take a wise risk that they know will enhance their life.
Invite teens to determine something they want to do but are afraid to. Allow them to discuss what mental or emotional roadblocks prevent them from going after what they want. Set a speciﬁc time period (usually a week or two) by which they must take some constructive action toward achieving their goal. Then let them pair off so every teen has a support partner who will encourage them and hold them accountable for taking action. After the deadline, discuss victories and set- backs. Those members who successfully take their risks should then plan to take another. Those who don’t should recommit to their original goal and try again.
ACTIVITY #31 SUGGESTIONS:
Several variations for expressing gratitude work for groups. Some like to list “100 things we’re grateful for” in a brainstorming session. Around the holidays, some teens choose a group project of doing something chari- table for a group or individual who makes a difference in people’s lives. At the end of each school year, my stu- dents picked favorite teachers in our school and gave them a special award.
Sometimes the most rewarding challenge is to acknowledge people whose tireless efforts often go unnoticed. Share some of these options with your group, then let them create their own way of expressing gratitude.
ACTIVITY #35 SUGGESTIONS:
Mentors are everywhere, but most teens have no idea where to look for them. Sometimes the best resource people are school or public librarians. They can point teens in the direction of local people who are succeeding in what they aspire to do. Many librarians have resource ﬁles of community members, contact lists that include local businesses and Chambers of Commerce, and reference books and web site addresses that can connect teens with mentors of all professions and interests. Sometimes the best way to help teens ﬁnd a mentor is to visit a library media center as a group and research together.
Career counselors and teachers who coordinate high school and college independent studies classes are also outstanding resource people to contact. Either go to them or give them a list of the kind of mentors you seek. Give them time to do the research, then let them visit your group with their ﬁndings. Many teens are shocked to discover how many people very near their own home are excelling at what they dream of doing.
ACTIVITY #39 SUGGESTIONS:
Teens love a play day, especially if your group activities are usually challenging and work-intensive. After a particularly challenging work period, tell teens you’re rewarding them with a play day. Invite them to bring materials that support fun. If your facility allows it, let them bring music or board games. If not, coordinate your own games that tie in (directly or indirectly) with your group goals or curriculum.
My regular level English classes loved playing “Literary Wheel of Fortune.” (I used the word literary loosely. Besides quotations from Shakespeare, I included comic book heroes and titles of popular movies and television shows.) My Honors classes preferred “Literary Jeopardy.”
If you let teens decide how they want to spend their fun day, many will vote for sitting and doing nothing. I always vetoed that suggestion. Whatever your teens do, whether as one large group, in small clusters, or even independently, let it be something active and engaging. So many of today’s teens grew up expecting to be enter- tained, they often need your help ﬁguring out how to create fun. With minimal help from you, they can have the (self-created) time of their lives.
ACTIVITIES #41-#43 SUGGESTIONS:
The goal setting section is comprised of systematic, sequential, left-brained activities. It is very appropriate to guide teens step-by-step through every part of this process. I spend much time explaining and modeling these stages even before we set our goals. It seems to help signiﬁcantly.
When you do goal setting as a group activity, allow every teen to choose an individual goal, but make every- one’s deadline the same. Also set a goal along with the teens. Leave your goal sheet in plain view, both to dem- onstrate how to chart your progress and to remind teens to keep working on their own goals.
During the period they’re working on their goals, occasionally give teens some time to update their goal sheets and to ask questions, if necessary. At the end of the goal period, spend time sharing achievements and challenges. Invite volunteers to come to the front of the room and explain what worked (if they achieved the goal) or what didn’t (if they didn’t). Being able to identify why we didn’t achieve our goals is often more valuable than accomplishing the goal too easily. (That usually indicates the goal was not well chosen.)
Each year, we set a six-week goal, then a twelve- week goal, then an eighteen-week goal. During each period, I set aside ten minutes or so every other week to help teens update their goal sheets and make sure they’re monitoring their own progress. I write my own goal sheet in regular black ink, but chart my progress in red marker. Then I post it on a bulletin board near the entrance to my room. The placement and color help to draw teens’ attention to it.
ACTIVITY #44 SUGGESTIONS:
Usually, adults are great about staying on-target with their goals and dreams until they get very close to achieving them. It’s that ﬁnal step that intimidates them most.
The toughest challenge for teens comes much earlier. They struggle to choose a path and to stay with it long enough to get results. They will often drift from one possibility to another, or keep exploring so they don’t have to decide.
Do not accept a mere “I don’t know what I want” as a response. They do know—or at least they’re on the way to ﬁnding out. Help them recognize the routines in other areas of their lives that work for them, then encourage them to apply those qualities to pursuing their goals.
ACTIVITY #50 SUGGESTIONS:
After teens complete their self-assessments individually, invite them to share their results as a group. They learn much from their peers. Often, they gain entirely new perspectives about themselves by talking through their responses, rather than only answering the questions.
Soon after they complete this self-assessment, you might encourage the teens to take a vocational interest test. If you are not a counselor, you can send teens to their school counselor to take the test. If you prefer, you may invite a counselor to proctor the test, or secure a set of tests to give to teens yourself. Directions for taking the test and interpreting the results are clear and easy to understand.
Teens need help correlating their interests and passions to career choices. By completing both the self- assessment activity and a vocational interest test, they can use their personal strengths and preferences to explore career options.
Knowing their likes and aptitudes does more than help them see job opportunities. It enhances their self-esteem, helps them build better relationships, and empowers them to choose the best path for their life.
Sample Lesson 2
using The End of the Beginning
1. Literature/ Book Resource: The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant) by Avi
2. Produced by: Ellen Gillis, Fourth Grade GATE Teacher and Susan Sloan, Librarian (Ashbel Smith Elementary School in Baytown, Texas)
3. Lesson Objectives: Collaborative Classroom / Library Lesson Plan—Define the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. characters traits and analyze them as they apply to characters in the book.
- ELA (6B) Students will understand, make inferences from and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. They will also describe the interaction of characters including their relationships and the changes they undergo.
- ELA (29) Students will work productively with others in teams. Students are expected to participate in teacher- and student-led discussions by posing and answering questions with appropriate detail and by providing suggestions that build upon the ideas of others.
- Technology (2C): Collaborate effectively through personal learning communities and social environments.
- Technology (5A): Follow the rules of digital etiquette.
- Multiple copies of Avi’s book The End of the Beginning
- Class set of computers
- LCP Projector
- District account on Edmodo instructional social networking website www.edmodo.com
- List of questions to post on Edmodo relating to the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. characters traits
5. Length / Timing of Lesson:
- Two 45 minute lessons (read book aloud)
- Two 1 hour lessons (discussions via Edmodo website)
6. Intended Audience:
- Fourth Grade Gifted and Talented Class
- Observe real snails to see how slowly snails move.
- Define the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. character traits.
- Read the book aloud in class.
- Discuss the elements of the story and focus on the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. character traits.
- Join Edmodo groups based on the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. character traits.
- Students work in groups and answer questions posted by the teacher. The teacher, librarian and students will all respond to each other’s comments via Edmodo.
8. Results of the Lesson:
- What worked well
- Students had prior knowledge and practice using the Edmodo.
- The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. character traits and corresponding page numbers on the outline were a valuable component to the lesson.
- Students learned the value, mechanics, and etiquette of online collaboration.
- Introducing two live snails to the lesson helped them to better understand the “snail battle” and some of the more subtle actions of the story based on snail attributes.
- Suggestions or modifications
- Students could also pose thoughtful questions to each other via Edmodo.
- Have the class re-read designated sections of the book to determine on their own which character traits were exhibited and how they knew it. This would tie in with the reading lessons on character traits lesson.
- Write book recommendations as part of a book review.
- Recommend to others: Conduct a book talk for Avi’s sequel titled A Beginning, A Muddle and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing
Sample Lesson 3
1. Literature/ Book Resource: So B. It by Sarah Weeks
2. Produced by: Ruth Foster (5th grade teacher)
- Students will understand the characteristics of a self-aware person and how the main characters in So B. It portrayed them.
- Students will understand the characteristics of an undeterred person and how the main characters in So B. It portrayed them.
- Students will apply the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits lesson to their own lives by being self-aware and thinking about how they can be more undeterred in reaching their personal goals.
- So B. It by Sarah Weeks
- Reader’s Theater by Sarah Weeks
- Markers, highlighters, pencils, chart paper
- Acrostic Poem (Self-Aware and Undeterred)
3. Length / Timing of Lesson
- This lesson is designed as a culminating activity to be completed after students have read the novel and discussed the character traits. As such, it could be completed in two 45-minute class sessions.
- 5-7th grade students
5. Activity Sequence
- Discuss the attributes of the two S.U.C.C.E.S.S. character traits with students and include discussion of some examples from So B. It.
- Students work in groups to read through the Reader’s Theater. Find and underline/highlight where the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits are demonstrated. Assign parts and let at least one group perform for the class.
- Discuss areas in the Reader’s Theater where the characters demonstrate self-aware and undeterred behavior.
- Students work in groups to make a poster about one character illustrating how she or he demonstrated the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits.
- Independently students use the information from their poster and from the reader’s theater/novel to write and share an acrostic poem about being undeterred or self-aware.
- Finally, students think about their own lives and identify one area they could benefit from being self-aware or undeterred. Then write an “I will” statement promising to model the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits in their lives.
- My 5th grade students absolutely loved this book and connected with the characters and the story. When I told them we would be performing the reader’s theater they were all very excited and begged to be in the group that would perform for the class. The reader’s theater effectively re-engaged them with the story and was a good introduction to discussing the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits for this lesson.
- One thing that was difficult for them was to actually put examples of the success trait in the acrostic poems. They tended to just put one or two examples and then write other details about the story not necessarily related to the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits. I think that problem could have been solved with more modeling and discussion.
- At the end of the lesson having them write an “I will” statement related to the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. trait was very effective. Since the students were getting ready for state testing, I had them think about their testing goals and write their statement accordingly. They decorated and I laminated their statements, then they kept those on their desks during testing.
- While planning this lesson it was very helpful to have the information about which S.U.C.C.E.S.S. traits the characters in So B. It demonstrated and where those examples could be found (see pgs. 411-416). I believe that an educator could plan an effective lesson using the data provided without having read the entire book. Even though I did read the entire book to my students, I also believe that this lesson could have been taught using specific excerpts from the book even if there wasn’t time for students to read the entire book.
Success Traits Acrostic poem
Undeterred: perseveres, doesn’t give up
Success Traits acrostic poem
Self-Aware: expresses personal insight and knowledge
Sample Lesson 1
The Virtues of an Egalitarian
1. Literature/ Book Resource: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
2. Produced by: LaWan “Dia” Rhoden
3. Objective: An introduction to the virtues of an egalitarian
- Multiple copies of Clementine
- Discussion guides adapted from Sara Pennypacker’s “Clementine Activity Kit.”
- Clementine look-alike costumes/ funky shoes
5. Length of Lesson
- 45 to 90 minutes
6. Intended Audience:
- Second through fourth graders
7. Guided Discussion
- A guided discussion will be used to analyze the traits of an egalitarian by exploring specific characters from the book Clementine by Sara Pennypacker.
- Wear your most creative Clementine sneakers for a chance to win a Tales of Virtue Gift Card.
- Clementine often demands to be treated equally, especially when her younger brother gets to eat Gummi Worms or she needs to overcome her fear of pointy things to get bracelets like her best friend, Margaret. Clementine’s actions are consistent with the virtues of an egalitarian: the idea that all people are equal in value.
- Infants through fourth graders attended the Mother and Daughter Tales of Virtue Book Talk. Surprisingly, mothers also brought their sons to the event—a prime example of the virtue of egalitarianism, the idea that all people are equal in value. As the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Traits coordinator for the Book Talk, I welcomed the children with a rhyme element and provided Q & A handouts. I also gave each attendee a paperback copy of Clementine by Sara Pennypacker to use as a guided reading resource. As a program incentive, the child wearing the most creative Clementine-inspired sneakers was to win a gift card.
- Since all of the children wore such cute sandals and sneakers, I decided to model the egalitarianism by placing their names into an empty fish bowl for an equal chance of winning the grand prize. While writing down their names, I opened the discussion with the meaning of Clementine’s name, an orange-like fruit, while pointing to her beautiful orange hair. Using context clues helped with our first topic.
- The next challenge was defining egalitarian. We began with a multiple choice question:
- Egalitarian means:
- A. equal
- B. same
- C. advocacy
- D. unfair
- E. just
- The elementary age participants selected “equal” and “same.” The younger children agreed with their answers. When I added “advocacy” and “just” to the list of correct answers, the children seemed very impressed. They were further enlightened when I complimented their observational skills, because no one selected “unfair” (D) to describe the virtue of an egalitarian.
- The next discussion topics touched on topics they had been learning in the Character Counts program at school, including: Telling the truth (Chapter 2, pages 16-18), Not keeping secrets from parents (Chapter 3, pages 31-38) and Being creative (Chapter 3, page 42). Truth, honesty and creativity where familiar virtues to the school-age participants.
- Telling the truth (Chapter 2, page 18): What did Clementine say to keep her mom from worrying? Did Clementine tell the truth? Why or why not? Should you always tell your mom the truth? Why or why not?
- Not keeping secrets from parents (Chapter 3, page 38): Clementine shares a secret with her mom. What was the secret? Should you keep secrets from your mom? Why or why not?
- Being creative (Chapter 3, page 42): Clementine asked her mom to prepare lentils for dinner. How did Clementine eat the lentils? Did Clementine’s mom criticize her for eating lentils this way? Why or why not?
- A. with her fingers
- B. with a fork
- C. with a toothbrush
- D. with a spoon.
- Equal or guilty? (Chapter 4, page 45): Clementine is an advocate for fairness, so why does she cover her head with a quilt? Was Clementine trying to be equal or to get even with her best friend, Margaret?
- Facing music (Chapter 4, page 48): Clementine mom’s says, “You have to go and face the music.” What does face the music mean?
- A. taking piano lessons
- B. going to yoga with her mom
- C. going to music class
- D. none of the above. (If you answered none of the above, please explain why)
- Creativity or carelessness? (Chapter 9, page 116): What did Clementine make with her mom’s favorite hat? How do you think Clementine’s mom felt about the decorations on her favorite hat?
- Exquisite words (Chapter 10, page 132): Clementine is great at finding exquisite words. Find an exquisite word to describe your mom. Why did you choose this word?
Their responses were both humorous and informative. For example, a fourth grader talked about telling the teacher if someone were to hit him, instead of taking matters into his own hands. He also mentioned telling his parents about incidents at school, “Especially if you have to go to the principal’s office!” I made eye contact with his mom, who was smiling and beaming with joy. When I asked if the person who started the dispute should receive the same discipline, everyone wanted the bully to be sent to In-School Suspension (ISS) or to be expelled from school. Keeping the focus on the virtue of an egalitarian, we read Chapter 4, page 48 and discussed the meaning of, “face the music.” A nine (9) year old said, “It means you’ll have to go to school anyway, so everyone can laugh at you.”
Controlling my own laughter, I explained “Face the music means recognizing your mistake and accepting the consequences.” The participants identified being laughed at as a consequence for Clementine’s decision to cut off her beautiful orange hair, even though her action was a sign of empathy for her best friend, Margaret. We noted that orange is the color of fairness for the Character Counts program at their school.
The students shared their reading interests, which included books written by Jeff Kinney, Beverly Clearly, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Rick Riordan, Eion Colfer and of course, Sara Pennypacker. Since they said they were familiar with the notion of “character circle” (i.e., Venn diagram) from their reading classes at school, we developed a “character circle” for Clementine, generating a connection between egalitarian and other familiar words: equality, fairness and generosity.
- Equality - A second grader has a soccer game next week. She wants to win the final game for her team, but her best friend is on the opposite team. Both girls agreed to remain friends, regardless of the game’s outcome. As an equal opportunist, the third grader really wants to win the game and says, “I will not help my best friend’s team win!”
- Fairness - A third grader has a younger brother who receives preferential treatment from his parents. He says, “It’s because he’s the youngest child and I have to lead by example.”
- Generosity - I complemented one of the 4th graders for being a good listener. He said, “I would have won the good listener award in my class this week, but the award was given to a another student. The other student has problems paying attention, but I always pay attention.” In addition to being independent thinkers, these children seemed to be great problem solvers.
9. Related Activities
- Word Search: How many words can you create using “egalitarian”? For example: Eagle, Train, Rain, Leg, Gelatin...
- Craft Ideas: Make a Clementine hat out of construction paper and decorate it. Please, be careful with the scissors and markers. Note how hats can be different yet equal in value.
- Vocabulary Game: Create a list of fruits and/or vegetables from A to Z. For example: A is for Apple and Z is for Zucchini.
- Language Arts: Use a simile to describe what kind of flower Clementine looks like after she cuts off her beautiful orange hair. Similes are usually formed with “like” or “as.”
- Math: Add the total number of pigeons on page 77 with the total number pigeons on page 88. How many pigeons are there altogether?
- Science: How long does it take lentils to sprout? Develop a hypothesis and record your observations in a journal. Soak a half cup of dried lentils in a container of water for 8-12 hours. Remember, smaller lentils need less time to soak. After soaking the lentils, drain the water from the lentils and then rinse the lentils off with more water and drain them again. Place the drained lentils in a glass jar and cover the jar with a cloth. Repeat the rinsing and draining process everyday until your lentils produce sprouts.
10. In summary
- In summary, I was honored to introduce the virtue of an egalitarian to this group of inspiring children, who used exquisite words like outrageous, kind, beautiful, nice, generous, resourceful, intelligent and lovely to describe their moms. The use of discussion points, writing prompts and activities were the ideal combination for the Tales of Virtue Book Talk. Most of the participants were able to express their ideas verbally.
- The younger participants used their creativity to draw pictures (see p. 562) which required flexibility and attention to detail. We concluded the discussion by sharing our plans for the future: in addition to athletes, firefighters and authors, we had an aspiring artist in the group. I finalized the Tales of Virtue Book Talk with the words of Clementine’s mom, “You may end up being something else, too- whatever you want to be.”( page 38)
- Clementine is an independent thinking third-grader who sees things from a different angle and often feels she’s being treated unfairly. Whenever there’s a dilemma, Clementine takes it upon herself resolve the matter, even if she’s exposed to ridicule.
- Her creative thought process causes her to challenge her mom’s decision to work from home, instead of working at the bank like her best friend’s mom—who also wear dresses rather than overalls (see Chapter 3, page 38). She displays the virtue of an egalitarian by deciding her mom is the best person to help her achieve her goals without compromising her individuality.