Category Archives: Class Community Building

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #22 – Making a Difference

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While many are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support. (Shout out to my teacher friends in Alberta and Ontario who are working online at the moment!) These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

OLLIE #20 – Thank you, Earth!

OLLI #21 – Mother’s Day Poem

The Inspiration

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.         – Jane Goodall

An essential goal for teachers in the 21st century is to try to help students understand that they are in important part of the global community.  No matter our age, our actions can affect and contribute to the world.  Most children living in North America don’t really understand that, for the most part, they are among the most privileged in the world and because of that privilege, they have a responsibility as a global citizen to be mindful and helpful of others.  And while we may not able to take our students to Africa to help build a school, as this year winds down, we can help bring awareness that our actions, no matter how small, can make a big difference. 

The Anchor:

One Two Many  – Linda Grace Smith

Listen to the author read her story on Simbi HERE

Watch YouTube Read-Aloud HERE 

One Too Many introduces young readers to social justice issues (poverty, education, safety) in a child-friendly and easily accessible way.  Simple, rhyming text with repeating phrases will leave the reader feeling more aware of those in need and inspired to take action.  An important book to explore basic needs and access to them and simple ways we can all make a difference.

Added bonus – Author Linda Grace Smith will be sharing her book during a Virtual Author Visit next week! (more information below! Don’t miss out! )

The Lesson:

  • Write the words “NEED” and “WANT” on the board.  Invite students to think about what the difference is in the two words.  Give an example:  I need food and water to live; I want a new video game.  Invite students to share some of their own ideas.  Create a list on the board.
  • Look at the “NEED” list – introduce the term “Basic Needs” and explain that there are only a few “basic needs” people need to survive – food, water, clothing, shelter, and love.  Without those things, it becomes difficult to live your life.  Explain that everything on the “WANT” side of the chart are not necessary for survival.  We might WANT a new video game but we don’t actually NEED it to survive.
  • Explain that if someone does not have their basic needs, life can be very difficult.  Most of us don’t need think about what we are going to eat, where we are going to sleep, or if we have clothes to wear. 
  • Ask students if they think everyone in the world has basic needs.  Discuss the fact that there are many people living in different places in the world who don’t have food, water, shelter, clothing, or love.  Ask if they think that it’s fair that we do and they don’t?

But there are 7 billion other people in the world, so I probably don’t need to do anything.  I can live in my house and play my video games and go to soccer practice, eat pizza, play with my friends, and live a good life. I can’t really do anything about it – I’m just a kid!  Agreed? 

  • Write or show this quote: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending a night in a closed room with a mosquito.”  – African Proverb  
  • Invite students to talk to their partner and infer what they think it means. (if one tiny mosquito can make that big an impact – then I guess I can, too)  It only takes one small action to make a big difference!
  • Read the book One Too Many.  Explain that the author wrote it because she wanted us to start thinking about others and about ways we might be able to help.  Invite the students to be listening for ways they might be able to help.
  • Close the book and say “Sometimes, when I finish reading a story, the book ends but my thinking doesn’t.  This book is really lingering (triple scoop word!) in my mind. 
  • Ask the students what is “lingering” for them.  You might model:

It really made me think about others and also how one small act can make a big difference. One person can make a huge difference – just like one tiny mosquito can have a huge impact on a gigantic human.  You are the mosquito; the person is the world.  I may not be able to help people in other countries get clean water or food, but I can make a difference by my everyday small actions.  Don’t ever think that one small action is not going to make a difference.  YOU CAN make a difference!

  • Create an “I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE” chart.  Brainstorm different ways students can help make a difference. (see examples below)
If I see someone…I can…
playing by themselvesinvite them to play
eating alonesit with them 
cryingask them if they are okay
carrying something heavyask if they need help
with no snackshare my snack with them
  
  
  • Pass out “I Can Make a Difference” chart.  Tell the students they can “borrow” one or two ideas from your chart, but to try to come up with the rest on their own.
  • After students have completed their page, invite them to share their ideas. Discuss setting a goal and challenge each student to pay attention to those around them in school, at home, or in their neighbourhood. Encourage them to notice a need and do their best to take action and “make a difference”.

Download the “I Can Make a Difference” page HERE

Download the “I Can Make a Difference” page for Early Primary page HERE

Join author Linda Grace Smith next Tuesday, May 25th at 9:30 am PST  for a Virtual Author Visit! 

Sign up for FREE Here

Lesson Extension

This lesson would be a great introduction to the concept of “Change Agents”.  Depending on your grade, you could continue sharing books about real people whose actions changed the world.  For more lessons on Change Agents and other global issues, see my book Powerful Understanding – Chapter 4 – Understanding the World

Additional Anchor Books:

The following books are recommended for introducing social injustices, local and global poverty, and acts of kindness that make a difference. Don’t forget to search for Read Alouds on YouTube, if you are teaching online. Whenever possible, choose the video of the actual author reading their own book.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – Emily Pearson

Lend a Hand John Frank

Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Maddi’s Fridge – Lois Brandt

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts

I Like, I Don't Like: Baccelliere, Anna, Ale + Ale: 9780802854803: Books -  Amazon.ca

I Like, I Don’t Like – Anna Baccelliere

Some Tips for a Better World and Happier Life – Rebecca Doughty

Secret Kindness Agents: How Small Acts of Kindness Really Can Change the World – Ferial Pearson

Weezer Changes the World – David McPhail

What Does It Mean to Be Global? (What Does It Mean To Be...?) by [Rana DiOrio, Chris Hill]

What Does it Mean to Be Global – Dana DiOrio

Recommended books from the Simbi Library. (Not familiar with Simbi-Read for Good? – Check it out HERE)

Bear Shaped by Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden

  Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour

  Lionel the Lonely Monster by Fred Blunt

  Impact Series: Malala Yousafzai by Stephanie vanKampen

  Impact Series: Anne Frank by Stephanie vanKampen

  Impact Series: Greta Thunberg by Adrienne Gear

  A New Alphabet for Humanity by Leesa McGregor

  Rebel Girl: Yeonmi Park by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

   There’s a Norseman in the Classroom by Grayson Smith

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have some new ideas and new book titles to inspire small acts that make a big difference!

Somewhere inside all of us, is the power to change the world – Roald Dahl

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Filed under Class Community Building, Lesson Ideas, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, social justice, Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Best Books for Building Class Community

Well… for many of us – tomorrow we head back to school to begin a new year.  These first few days and weeks are filled with many emotions, new routines, and, let’s face it – a fair share of chaos!  But nothing is more important in these first weeks than establishing your class community.  Creating a positive, welcoming, accepting place will help students feel more connected, empowered, and invested in learning.  Reading stories to your class and engaging in discussions is one of the best ways I know to begin this process.  While there are dozens to choose from, here are a few of my favorite picture books for building a positive learning environment in your class:

(Note:  This is not intended to be a list of “Back to School” books – which are really only shared during the first few DAYS of school.   This list is meant for sharing and discussing over the first few WEEKS of school, while you focus on building your classroom community.   For favorite “Back to School” books, see my post here.)

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!  If you are familiar with my “One Word” transform lesson – the one word I would use with this book is, of course, “Welcome”.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Another one of my favorite books by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson is about bullying – the subtle kind of bullying –  the ignoring and whispering and refusal to acknowledge someone. I think this kind of bullying can be the worst. This book is heart-breaking and poignant.   I love the metaphor of the stone making rippling waves in the water representing the effects of kindness upon others and the not so happy but very realistic ending.   Such an important story to share and talk about.

The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig

This powerful, heart-breaking story is one of my very favorites.  Brian is so quiet, he is “invisible”.  He is not included, invited to birthday parties or is really noticed.  Then Justin, the new boy, arrives and works with Brian on a class project, giving him a chance to shine.  This gentle book is a valuable one to include in your class collection, showing children how small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  The illustrations by Patrice Barton are soft and gentle, just like Brian.  LOVE!

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! Trudy Ludwig

From the amazing team who brought us “The Invisible Boy”, Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton’s new book “Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!” is a must have for a first week read-aloud to help build your classroom community. Owen McPhee loves to talk… and talk and talk and talk! (connections, anyone?) But when he develops laryngitis one day, he discovers the the value of being a good listener. Wonderful depiction of the social dynamics of a busy classroom with a gentle message about the importance of listening. LOVE!

Cover Image

We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”.

                                                 How to Be a Lion  Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  SUCH a great book for building classroom community!

I’m the Best! Lucy Cousins

Some children like to brag.  And while the line between being confident and being a “swagger-bragger” is often thin, it is an important distinction to discuss with your students.   This cheerful, humorous book is a wonderful way to spark that discussion.  Dog is “the best” at everything and likes to tell his friends all about his “amazingness”!  Eventually, his friends are tired of his bragging so they start a little bragging of their own, helping Dog realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of a “swagger-bragger”.   I love how this book gently shows how bragging impacts others.

Steve, Raised By Wolves – by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be yourself”

Do Unto Otters:  A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

Based on The Golden Rule, this book reminds young readers to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Simple message that being kind and using your manners will go a long way when interacting with other people.   Love the word play and puns and quirky, fun illustrations.

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices – Sally Derby

I love this unique look at the first day of school told through the voices of six diverse children, ranging in age from kindergarten to grade 5.  Each child tells the story of their first day of school, beginning with the night before where readers will see that even children who are older worry about school and who their teacher will be.  Excellent book for inferring, voice and point of view.

The Bad Seed – Jory John

This humorous tale of a bad sunflower seed who eventually turns good makes a great read-aloud for primary students.  Sunflower is a BAAAAAAAAAD seed!  How BAAAAAAAAD?  He cuts in line, lies, doesn’t listen, has no manners…the list goes on!   I like how this book explores how he got to be so bad as well as focusing on his transformation to the “good side”.   Expressive illustrations – lots of laughs but great message.

What if Everybody Did That? – Colleen M. Madde

A wonderful book for teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community – perfect for the beginning of the year.   What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick has simple, up-beat text,  colorful illustrations and gives a new perspective on how our choices impact the world around us.  A good reminder to us all – before you do anything or say anything, ask yourself, “what if everybody did that?”

 This School Year will Be The BEST! – Kay Winters

Fantastic beginning of school read-a-loud. Great for starting the conversation about what students are nervous about, thinking about, and hoping to get from school.  Also a great anchor for writing about school goals and wishes for the new school year ahead.

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Be Where Your Feet Are! – Julia Cook

A simple, child-friendly book about mindfulness and creating a positive classroom environment.  Too often, our students are overbooked with school, homework, projects, sports, extra-curricular activities, family time and so much more.  The main character in this book is so focused on his band tryouts that he can not focus on anything else.  Mindfulness tips are included in the back of the book and would be great to kick off a class created list of ways students can work together to be present as individuals, supporting each other throughout the year.

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book for building class community?

 

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Filed under Class Community Building, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Point of View