Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Power of Words

We can all use a hug...
I’ve been sharing picture books during mini-lessons last week and this week. With PARCC testing every other day, I feel that enjoying reading and writing on our off days is very important. For example, on Friday we shared Hug Machine and Extra Yarn. We discussed how they had similar themes of kindness (among others) and pulled examples from each book of evidence of the theme. So while they were absolutely doing the work of readers, we also focused on he enjoyment as well.

Today I had a plan originally to share Journey and Mirror Mirror. Then, I heard that my students in each class are having some issues with the words they are using. They are teasing and taunting their friends. I think what is happening is that they’re goofing around and saying things they think are funny. However, they are on topics that some children are sensitive about, and it is giving them a blow to their confidence. I talked to a parent and a few kids and knew I needed to address it, but how?


I decided to keep my original two books and add another two and a video. I began our lesson by talking about the power of words – what we say, like the beautiful and smart language in Mirror Mirror. We read it in awe, what a beautiful book. Then we looked at Journey and discussed how the absence of words can say something on its own.

Then I shared Hello, My Name is Ruby and we looked at the power of our words, even when we don’t intend to hurt someone, we can ruin in their day unintentionally. The kids were excited to see Philip Stead’s illustrations after reading his book Special Delivery last week.

Finally, I pulled out Misty Copeland’s Firebird. Many of my students didn’t know who she was, so we studied her words, Christopher Myers illustrations, and Misty’s author note. We talked about her perseverance. Then, I shared this video.

By the way, for you teachers of older students, before beginning the video I said to the kids, “This is a video of Misty Copeland, who we just read about. First, please be aware that she is essentially in an outfit similar to a bathing suit. Please don’t let that be the focus of your attention. Listen to the words and how they contradict the image you are seeing on the screen. Be ready to talk about it.” I figured it was easier to address her lack of apparel that have them giggle through the entire video. It worked. Each class sat with rapt attention.

When we were done we talked about how the people that were turning Misty down were wrong and how she didn’t let them hold her back. She became what she knew in the heart she could be.

I asked them to do a quick write then thinking about this idea. Our words can be used to propel people forward and up, or to tear them down. How have they been using words lately? Also, are they listening to their hearts and becoming what they are meant to be, or are they letting others limit their potential.

It was a packed lesson, but one I think was important. These fifth graders are on the cusp of becoming who they are meant to be. The adults in their lives need to continue to be there to guide. I cannot wait to see them reach their full potential.