Friday, February 1, 2013

Wings: The Power of Being Unique!

This week, we read a story called "Wings" from our reading series.  This is a story about a young boy named Ikarus who has wings and is repeatedly mistreated by his classmates because he is different.  To tie into the theme of the week, we made these little geese.  This craftivity was perfect because we were studying irregular plurals and "geese" was one of our spelling words.  :)  It was also perfect because geese have wings... which again was the title of the story... and it's all about being unique.  So, each kiddo received a random assortment of colored wings to make each individual goose special and unique.

We did a little more word play by creating this anchor chart together.  It grew each day as we examined a few words at a time.

After reading a short passage called "Dancing in the Wings", we started to build this web.  We continue to add on to it throughout the week.  If you'd like a copy, you can snag it HERE.

I know you've looked at photos of these posters over and over again, but I seriously LOVE the discussion that comes out of the essential questions and how deeply students consider answers to them. My kiddos especially like "written conversations" where they have three minutes to respond to a question before switching with the person across from them or to their right/left.  (However you want to do it or mix it up!)  It's amazing to see how profound they can be, and I love seeing them cite evidence from the text as they write back and forth.  I give them three minutes to respond before they switch back and read the responses.  We wrap it up each day with a brief group discussion!

I made PowerPoint slides to project the questions even though I display the questions around the room throughout the week.  It makes it larger and therefore easier to copy into their journals.  Nothing fancy!

While reading this week, we approached the text two different ways.  The first time, I read the text aloud as the kiddos worked on the questioning strategy.  They wrote questions on Post-It notes before, during, and after reading, and then I asked each pod to discuss potential answers to those questions.  We also sang the questioning song from my Strategy Songs: Metacognition Through Music pack.  (I'm currently wondering why I decided to use the Black and White version on my SMARTboard! Ha!)

I  assigned literature circle roles the next day, even though we were all reading the same text, and the kiddos worked in groups to dissect and discuss the text further.  :)  Again, discussions were fantastic!  We took a look at my Accountable Talk FREEBIE to review expectations, and I was not disappointed.

Since we were talking about what it means to be unique, we read "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon.  The target comprehension skill for the week was cause and effect, so my kiddos made this cute craftivity by Amy Lemons.

In the midst of studying "Wings" and discussing bullying and what it means to be truly unique, my family was caught up in a firestorm that very closely tied into our classroom discussions.  My cousin Kellie, who has Down's Syndrome, mistakenly dialed a local radio station.  She was trying to call a friend, but she ended up speaking to the most controversial DJ in the area.  This radio personality proceeded to mock her relentlessly and poke fun at her speech.  (If you would like to read more about this story, you can read the transcript of the actual broadcast HERE.)

Honestly it's weird to see my cousin's sweet face all over the news and television stations right now, but it was a perfect opportunity to make a text-to-self connection and bare my soul a bit with my kiddos.  I didn't get into the nitty gritty details with them, but I gave them a brief overview, and most of the kids had already heard about it by that point anyway.  Of course, I have the sweetest kids in the whole world, and they couldn't believe that a grown-up would treat someone that way, especially someone with a disability.  This was a real-world example of exactly what we had been talking about, and it led to great discussions about tolerance and acceptance.  Sometimes I think it's really important to let your students see you as a real... vulnerable... authentic human being.

In other news, I am happy to announce the winner of my BEEP, BEEP, BOOP, BOOP Giveaway.  The following person is the BIG WINNER, and she gets to chose FOUR items from my store!  :)
Congratulations, lady!!!!  Check your email!


  1. I love the way you approached teaching this topic - those activities are really meaningful. I'm sorry to hear about your cousin - hopefully your kiddos learn that mean never equals funny.


  2. Oh My Goodness! I was just calmly reading through your post and thinking about what great ideas these were for when we read Wings and then...I saw my name!! I think my heart stopped for a moment! I am so excited right now I can hardly stand it!! Thank you so very much! =)

  3. We are enjoying your strategy songs! Bless your poor cousin's heart. I can't even watch, I am sure it will just anger me. Was there an apology?

  4. Amanda, I LOOOOVE the picturebook Wings. It is on my top 5 list of must reads to kids and I usually use it at the beginning of the year to talk about accepting others and celebrating differences. I love the concept web you made and just downloaded it for next year. I think it really helps to see the theme like this. You rock!

  5. Whenever one can teach inner beauty & acceptance, they have done a priceless job! Well done!

    Amy Howbert
    Little Miss Organized

  6. Amanda - I love the work you did with your youngsters on Wings and the Stripes..made me wish I was teaching with a basal! As I read it I immediately thought what a wonderful way to tie into differences in people! Then I read the story and the transcript about your cousin and it made me sick to my stomach that someone could be so ignorant and heartless to have verbally tortured her! Knowingly leading her on even after she had the wrong number he continued so unmercifully. I am a special educ teacher and live south of Strausburg and I hope I never have to hear that man on a radio ever! Please give your cousin a big hug and tell her there are lots of fans for her!
    God bless!

  7. Amanda, I was so saddened to read of the humiliation your cousin experienced. How sad that someone can find humor at the expense of others, and then "followers" support that kind of humor. As educators we need to be sure we do as you did with your kiddos and share our disappointment (and sorrow) that someone would treat another person in that way. There is absolutely no reason for that kind of behavior from anyone. I'm not a listener of that particular station...don't even know if it reaches to where I'm at, but it definitely will not be one I listen to when I'm in your neck of the woods. On a brighter your ideas you wrote about. The Accountable Talk is great...just the answer to what I was looking for! Enjoy the rest of the weekend and the snow!
    P.S. I was at a workshop on Tuesday...and saw your name. Was hoping you might be there so we could meet face to face! Maybe another time!

  8. Amanda, that's the sickest thing I've ever read. I understand getting laughs but seriously, HE has it rough worrying about making fun of people. Wow. Just wow

  9. Wow. I'm just speechless Amanda...about the situation that happened to your cousin. I find it so difficult to believe that people behave in that manner in 2013! Honestly...who has the disability? Certainly not your beautiful cousin!

    A is for Apple B is for Blog

  10. I am so sorry this happened to your cousin. Completely ridiculous!!!