Saturday, September 10, 2011

Community Building Week 1: Friendship and Responsibility

The first month of school this year, I decided to try a weekly theme. Each theme is related to building community. Books are fantastic teaching tools, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

The first week of school, our theme was friendship. Here's what we read:

Words Are Not for Hurting/Las palabras no son para lastimar
This book is great because it's full of words phrases that are helpful and hurtful, and some things you can say to fix it when you hurt someone or to defend someone who is being bullied.

Together, we made a chart of hurtful and helpful words, and then used it to make a book called Palabras agradables (Kind Words). Each student made their own page, and I put them in sheet protectors in a three-ring binder, which I then placed on a shelf for them to read at will. They frequently pick it up during their free time.

How to Lose All Your Friends
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! Nancy Carlson is a great author, and this is a really fun "opposite" book. Carlson lists 6 or 7 things you can do to scare away any potential friends, among them being a bully and refusing to share. At the end it's clear that having no friends is not much fun.

Of course, we made a chart of ways to not have friends (hitting people, saying mean things, not sharing, cheating) and ways to make/keep friends (be nice, say nice things, share your toys). We made another class book called Como ser un buen amigo (How to Be a Good Friend). Just like the other book, each kid made a least one page and the pages are now in a binder on the shelf for them to read.

It's Not My Job! 
Another one I absolutely love. It's this great story about a family who never wants to take out the trash, because everyone claims it's not their job. Finally, there is so much trash in the house that it's coming out of the windows! Teamwork and responsibility save the day.

I noticed last year that we had some problems taking care of the things in our classroom. There was always paper on the bathroom floor, and the kids completely destroyed their book boxes by the end of the year, which meant I had to head back to IKEA to buy 25 new ones. I've also had problems in the past with kids ripping my books. So after reading this book, we drew and labeled pictures of things we can do to take care of our classroom, and those pictures are now on the wall in our hallway.

Happy school year!

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