Saturday, October 6, 2012

WONDERschools Blog Tour

Today's post is a part of the Wonder Schools blog tour.  I am so honored to be a part of this wonderful group of educators who have chosen to read the amazing book Wonder by RJ Palacio with their students.  

This summer I began following many teachers and fellow book bloggers.  I was so intrigued by all the talk about the book Wonder that I had to go out and find it to read.  Reading this book was an amazing experience: I laughed, I cried, and I spent time thinking about how to best use this amazing resource with my students.

You see, I connected with the story of August in a very personal way.  When I was sixteen, my mother, who was a widow at the time, married my step-father and we moved in with his family.  My step-father has two sons and at the time they were seventeen and nineteen.  My oldest step-brother, Jeff, has severe Cerebral Palsy and is unable to care for himself.  He was able to say "yes" and "no" but lately he has been deteriorating in health and is unable to do even this. Jeff is a sweet person with an incredible sense of humor.  He has so much personality and we all love spending time with him.  

My wedding with all the siblings.
Enjoying a Brewers game together.  

When we moved in with him, it was very difficult at first.  My mother, my sister, and I were not used to being stared at everywhere we went.  We had to learn how to be the people that were the center of attention in every public place.  We had to learn to ignore the stares and the whispers.  At first, I was angry all the time, just like Via is in the book Wonder. Then, I learned to ignore the stares and I just enjoyed being around such a great guy.  

The book Wonder treats this issue in a wonderful and real way.  I connected in such a powerful way with the family, and I knew that I needed to share this book with my class.  I loved how Auggie was so matter-of-fact about how his life has been.  It is so important to me to help my students learn empathy for people who are different so that they can go out in the world and advocate for kindness.  Auggie's voice is so honest that a reader can't help imagining what it would be like to be in his shoes.  

Jeff and my stepdad at Christmas

This school year I am reading Wonder aloud to my 8th grade class.  We started at the beginning of the school year and have just begun Part II.  I was reminded today of how much I connect with Via's character as we started the section that is written from her point of view.  My students have shown incredible depth in their responses so far and I heard an audible, collective gasp when I read about Halloween.  (If you haven't read the book, you need to read it and then you will know what I mean)

I will have my students take the pledge to choose kind during the month of October for National Bullying Prevention Month.  This is such an important issue and I love that I have a good piece of literature to help bring up some important but difficult topics.  I am using ideas from the teacher resource guide provided as response ideas. I am asking my students to connect to the book in their own personal ways and I will share my connections to the characters and my experiences of being in a family that got stared at everywhere we went.

If you are interested in taking the pledge to Choose Kind or to find out more about this WONDERful book, visit the tumblr page by clicking on the logo.  

Enjoying some live music.  Jeff loves when we sing and when my husband plays guitar. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your Wonder experience and introducing us to Jeff. What a wonder-ful person he is!