I won a contest that Maria Dismondy was holding. I love winning stuff and I suspect that most of us do! Have you heard of this book? Have you heard of Maria? She's a Michigan author, mom, and friend to everyone. I've met her once and was thrilled to see how sweet she was.
Johnny is a big fan of school but that all changes when the new kid, Gabe arrives. Gabe doesn't speak any English, and that doesn't stop Johnny from going out of his way to be unkind. What will Johnny do when Gabe starts to make new friends? Will he join in the fun of making a new friend or turn the other way? Johnny realizes a powerful message in this story where empathy and inclusion teach us that actions speak louder than words. Read to find out how chocolate milk plays a major role in the discovery of the real universal language.
In my school district, we like to practice "Profundity" with our students. It helps them to think deeper about a book and the actions in the book. I decided to share this book with two kindergarten classes. I realize that kinders are new to profundity, but they certainly have thoughts and can usually verbalize their feelings.
This book shares a real situation that happens in schools to many students and I knew that these particular kinders were also experiencing these same scenarios.
First we decide on which character to focus on.
Then we look for three actions that character did. We write them down on chart paper in the order of the time they happened in the book.
Next, we ask them questions to think about one action at a time.
"Why did he do that?" (write in red pen)
"Was it right?" (write in green pen)
"What did he get from doing that?" (write in blue pen)
We continue with each action asking the same questions for each action. No answers are wrong, you just clarify their thoughts so they are staying on task. Sometimes (especially with kinders) you will need to paraphrase their thoughts into a shorter sentence that will be easier to follow. Be sure that the others are agreeing to the thoughts that are being shared. If someone disagrees, ask them to defend their thoughts by explaining why.
Finally you ask them what the author wants us
to know about this story.
"What is the big idea of the story?"
"What is the universal theme?"
(Write this in a brown pen)
Many topics can be discussed and each story can have many big ideas, so you help them narrow it down to one that you all can agree on.
And TA DA!!!! You now have a finished chart showing the profundity of this story. We hang these in the halls so others can read them and see if they agree with the choices.
I know that this particular story is mainly about empathy. But kinders don't always know this word. However, there were some gasps when actions happened in the story, so I knew they got it. I took the time to tell them, that they understood the pain he felt and that's why they gasped. That's called empathy. They knew what he was feeling.
I will be doing this same story with some first and 2nd graders and it will be interesting to see how the different the charts turn out and what they deem the big idea is.
If you would like to know more about how you can do profundity with your class, leave me a message with your email and I can send you the chart that will help you do this with your class.