Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wonder- "What is Essential is Invisible to the Eye"

"We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness." Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wow.  That is the first word that ran through my mind as I started reading the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  I love it when you see or read something that makes you stop in your tracks and reflect.  This book absolutely does this; making one stop and ponder on choosing to be kind and often the price that one may pay in this decision.  There's a knowing deep within you, that to #ChooseKind, is the right choice to make.  What vignettes in your own life demonstrate a time when you purposefully decided to choose kindness?

Published in February 2012, I first heard of this book from International UWCSEA Teacher @davecaleb on Twitter, who was encouraging others to read it.  It is currently on the voting list for Newbery Awards 2013.  The King County Library System near Seattle, Washington, is encouraging people to view the list of choice books, read at least 4/6, and then vote for your book of choice to receive the 2013 honor.  You can view all the book entries for the Newbery 2013, here.

Wonder is an excellent book to emphasize the Virtues of Kindness, Caring, Respect and Assertiveness; the PYP Learner Profiles: Caring, Principled, Open-minded and Risk-taker; and the PYP Learner Attitudes: Respect, Integrity and Empathy. 

To get you and your students started, you can find Wonder discussion questions posed by the author here.  Have your students also come up with their own "I wonder.." questions about the book and how different characters demonstrated behaviors/actions of caring or uncaring, respect or lack of respect, integrity or lack of integrity.  How do you and your students judge a "book by it's cover" or a "person by the way they look"?  Is there an example you can think of?

This book makes us stop and look at ourselves; evaluate where we are on the scales of kindness to everyone we meet.  As Palacio quotes The Little White Bird by J.M. Barrie, "Shall we make a new rule of life...always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?"  Because to be kind, is a choice.

I think Antoine de Saint-Exupery stated it best in The Little Prince, "Now here is my secret.  It is very simple.  It is only with one's heart that one can see clearly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Enjoy the wonder in this wonderful book! 


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Using Your Voice- Transforming from Me to We

"Never doubt for a moment that you can change the world!"  Two brothers, Craig and Marc Kielburger started a movement to Free the Children.  Their work has expanded into humanitarian work and promoting the rights of children around the world.  They have started a Me to We youth empowerment organization which encourages our young to volunteer and be active in making our world a better place.  "Living we means walking softly, traveling lightly and making a difference in all your actions—small or large."

Recently, my middle school daughter has had the opportunity to apply for one of her school's spots to participate in the 2012 We Day Youth Conference.  The entire school is excited about the possibility to attend such an event.  This has only served to enthuse our youth to volunteer, serve others and use their voice to make a difference in our world!  Here is a video showing what We Day is about:

Educators around the world are using their voices to promote Freedom.

@intrepidteacher  posted a blog on "Azadi Means Freedom" about stepping out and using our free voices to help others.  This jumps out at me: "If you were living in an oppressed society, wouldn't you want the people who have freedom to use it for you?" Yes. Any person who lives freely- free to walk outside and feel the sun on your face when you want, free to write, read, study, practice your faith, go to school, learn, make mistakes... lives a privileged life; one which many in the world can only dream of living. We can take that freedom for granted and begin to focus inward on ourselves, maybe even grumble about things that are not perfect or didn't turn out just the way we wanted it to. Time for some perspective. It's time to use our voices for those who are restrained from speaking about their truths, their realities.

For the month of December 2011, @coolcatteacher also spoke out on an issue in our world in her blog: #endslavery, which started a movement of blog postings/tweets and people using their "free voice" for those held in slavery in the world.   I added my voice to the blog movement.  She posted again in April 2012, speaking out against slavery.  She knew we wouldn't "end" the issue of human trafficking, but the one power we do have is the freedom to use our voice to shake up the status quo.

Mother Teresa said, "If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out." You've got to use your voice.

And Margaret Mead stated, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." You've got to take action.

Can we step out of our comfort zone and into our free voice? Because at the end of the day, when we do speak out or take action however big or small, we are changing the world into a better place. One word, one action at a time. I am excited to hear about the We Day experience from the students at my daughter's school at the end of October 2012!

How does your school encourage students and teachers to use their voices to make a difference in our small world?