The “Wonder” in a classroom is sometimes created by the material, sometimes the message, sometimes the students and sometimes the teacher. On a great day it is all of those things and wonderful indeed.
The sixth grade classrooms of Lynda Dawson, Mel Reyes and Marianne Muller were all filled with “Wonder” recently as they took on the novel of the same name. For those not familiar with the book, it was published in 2012 and has spent the last 5 years in a row as a number one bestseller on the New York Times list. Wonder deals with the challenges faced by a Middle School student with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare and disfiguring condition. Sheltered for much of his early life, the student is quickly ostracized by his peers as he spends his first year in a private school.
Students not only read the book, but watched the movie made in 2017. According to students Leila Dostal and Nolan Chamber the book is "way better."
Mrs. Muller believes that students in middle school have a unique connection to stories like Wonder. She loves teaching middle school students simply because they are, in the opinion of many people, so difficult. “I love how hard they work at finding out who they really are and what’s important to them,” she said with a quiet chuckle. “They seem very grown up, but you can see by their reactions to the books we read, that there is a lot of kid left in them.”
Mrs. Muller’s students will read Wonder, Where the Red Fern Grows, Number the Stars and Walk Two Moons by the end of the school year. “We choose books that we know are enjoyed and favorites of kids. We also choose books that enable us to delve into the human spirit and discuss the obstacles that affect kids their age. Kids today find their greatest tragedy to be a lost cell phone charger. We introduce them to characters from many different time periods who are truly facing obstacles. Our students are able to learn from the courage, grit and determination of these characters” explained Mrs. Muller.
Mrs. Reyes described the relevancy of the books her 6th graders read to the lessons they are learning in other areas. “I try to align with what we are studying in Global Studies. For example, we read Greek Myths when we study Ancient Greece and Dog of Pompeii, when studying the Romans. I do a huge fairy tale unit when we study the Renaissance and during the study of World War II, we read Number the Stars, which is about the Danish resistance,” she explained.
In Mrs. Dawson’s class students wrote their own chapter for Wonder. “In addition, they make cover pages and choose their own theme song for the book. The students then share with the class the covers they have created and the theme songs they have chosen,” said Mrs. Dawson.
(l to r) Alexander West, Nolan Chambers, Leila Dostal and Isabella Kopec all enjoyed the book and the precept posters they made after reading Wonder.
Just some of the posters created by students after reading the book Wonder
Students in all three classes chose precepts from Wonder and found quotes that apply to what they personally believe. The 6th grade hallway walls were lined with posters and precepts as numerous and marvelous as you would expect them to be when the material, the message, the teacher and the students all find that special something that makes there time in the classroom come together in a wonderful way.