“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Changing things up....Wonder.

  January is passing by at a breakneck speed. Hopefully the weather will improve, as will my situation.  Despite all the ups and downs outside of school, my class has been doing some fun and interesting things (at least I think they are fun and interesting).  I really wanted my students to read a new novel this year.  In the past I have posted about the novel "Airborn" which we read each year in my grade six class.  I felt that this year we needed to change it up a bit.  I did some on line research and decided that the book "Wonder" by author R.J. Palacio would be a good choice for my class.  


The publisher's description:

"August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?" 
I love using literature circles with my students.  I have used a variety of models for this over the years, but this year I decided that my class would participate in Depth and Complexity Literature Circles.  

Sandra Kaplan is best known for her work in depth and complexity with gifted students.  Depth includes the following: language of the discipline, big idea, essential details, rules, patterns, trends, unanswered questions, ethics.
Complexity is comprised of the following: change over time, multiple points of view, across the disciplines.  To learn more about the work of Dr.Kaplan and the use of the symbols for Depth and Complexity, click HERE.

The students have been reading the novel and meeting in literature circle groups comprised of 4 students each week.  I give students time in class to read the novel and to prepare for the literature circle role they have chosen for that week.  As well, each week the students have been writing summaries of the reading selections (Wonder doesn't really have traditional chapters) using Tracee Orman's "Twitter Tweet Chapter Summary".  Student's write one summary about the reading selection using on 140 characters (or less) and then they write a second "tweet" taking on the role of one of the characters in the reading selection.  The students love it and I find it really improves their ability to effectively summarize and demonstrate comprehension at the same time.

Click on the image above to download your own FREE copy from Tracee's store.
I have used several other resources to support our in depth reading of Wonder.  

Click HERE to visit Nicholas Reitz's store.

Click HERE to visit Jean Martin's store

I have to admit that I love the messages in the novel.  They are "universal truths" which the author R.J. Palacio refers to in the novel as "precepts" or rules to live by.  Mr. Brown, Auggie's English teacher uses these "precepts" in his classroom and they are sprinkled throughout the novel to help shape the emotional tone of the reading.

"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."~Dr. Wayne Dyet

"Your deeds are your monuments." ~Inscription on ancient Egyptian tomb

"Have no friends not equal to yourself."~Confucius

"Fortune favors the bold." ~Virgil

"No man is an island, entire of itself." ~John Donne

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." ~James Thurber

"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much."   ~Blaise Pascal

"What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful." ~Sappho

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."  ~John Wesley

"Just follow the day and reach for the sun." ~The Polyphonic Spree

"Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world." ~Auggie Pullman

In order to remind my students of the precept of KINDNESS, I created a bookmark.   I printed these in colour on card stock then cut them out and laminated them.    If you would like your own FREE copy of the bookmark to share with your class just click on the image below.

Last week we used the on line program Tagxedo to create character trait portraits of the characters from the novel.  I found an excellent PDF tutorial for using Tagxedo HERE.  My students are going to create portraits for four or five characters from the novel and then we are going to use those to make a portrait collage using Picasa.  

This is the sample portrait of August I created while demonstrating how to use the program.
After we are finished with the Tagxedo portraits, the students will be creating imaginary movie trailers using our school Ipads and Imovie.  The students will write the script, create the props and then record the final product.  I am hoping to have these completed in time for our character education assembly later this spring.   I love when we can integrate drama, media literacy and language arts!


I find that reading novels such as this one help me to put my worries and problems in perspective. It seemed like choosing this novel was meant to be, for the process of reading it has helped me to remember that everyone has troubles, and more importantly that some of the youngest members of society have the most to teach us about the daily struggle of being human. 

Have you read Wonder?  What are your ideas for using it with your class?


  1. I'm sorry that the end of your year was so stressful. I hope 2014 brings you some relief in regards to all the things weighing on your heart. And Wonder is a fantastic choice. I think it should be required reading for all students... it's that good!

  2. I agree with everything that Miss Lifesaver said! Hope things are looking up for you. Wonder is a phenomenal book and my students loved the technology project we did at the end of our reading!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. Thank you for linking up! Your lesson is amazing. Wonder sounds like a great novel. I would love to create a character trait portrait with my kiddos. Thanks for linking up the website on how to create one.

    Your blog is stunning!

    Thanks again!

    Mary with A Classroom Full of Smiles


  4. Sounds like a wonderful book... makes me miss the junior grades. So sorry to hear you were caught in the storm. Hope 2014 brings much happiness to you and yours!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  5. I really enjoyed reading this. I loved all of your ideas. My son hates writing summaries and I think that the Twitter Tweets chapter summaries just might work out perfectly for him.

  6. What a great lesson using this amazing novel! Thanks for sharing with the KLBH, and I hope you will find yourself able to do many more posts!

  7. I've been meaning to read Wonder and now most certainly will! Loved how you walked us through how you are using this book in your classroom with tons of multi-media links. I've been out of the schools staying home with my kids for the past few years and have not heard of twitter tweets for chapter summaries- what an excellent idea!

  8. Those look like great resources to go with Wonder. Thanks!

  9. My 10-year-old daughter absolutely loved this book. She read it within a few days. I plan to read it as soon as I can find the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the hop!

  10. We love this book! What wonderful activities you have to go along with it. StanleyNKatrina are now following you on twitter. Thanks for linking up to the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Have a fantastic week ahead!

  11. Great to see you in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Oh my, but I loved this book. The message is so powerful. I wish every middle grade classroom would adopt this one as required reading. Thanks for joining us! :-)