Have you ever read a book to your students and they scream out, “We want to do that too!” I can think of many books where this has happened. For example, after reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds, every student wanted to make a unique dot. After reading Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, every student wanted to create an origami puppet based on a favorite book character. And after reading Earrings by Judith Viorst, everyone wanted to write a persuasive letter or essay. I am so grateful to these authors for inspiring my young readers to try new things and take up new causes.
Recently, my students and I have been reading Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, and a scene in the book inspired good deeds for Thanksgiving. If you’ve read Because of Mr. Terupt then you know this scene well. It is the scene where Mr. Terupt creates a classroom incentive program. He suspends a paper-link chain from the ceiling and each day his students can earn a link to add to the chain. Once the chain hits the floor, his students can do something special. After reading this scene aloud, my students felt inspired to make a paper-link chain also. But our chain was different.
We decided that we would add links to the chain if we did good deeds. Each morning we discussed our good deeds and added links to the chain. This fostered great conversations each morning and started each day off with a positive feeling. We loved adding links to our chain and felt proud of the good deeds we were doing. We had only one problem- what would we do when the links hit the floor? Earning a reward for doing good deeds seemed contrary to the purpose of our paper-link chain. So we decided that if our paper-link chain reached the floor we would purchase and donate a frozen turkey to give to a local organization that provided turkeys to families in need on Thanksgiving. My students were energized by this cause. They wanted to do good deeds and give back to the community.
Today I am proud because our paper-link chain touched the floor. We all cheered this morning in celebration. Our 14 pound Butterball turkey (fondly referred to as Bubba) is on its way to a family for Thanksgiving. Thank you to all the authors who inspire my students to be creative, take on new initiatives, and get involved by taking action. Your writing is making a difference in the lives of children. Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Typically found wearing mismatched socks, Dana Johansen spends her time teaching fifth grade in Connecticut, negotiating with her yellow lab about doggy dinner options, and plopping down on the floor in bookstore aisles to find new reads. She has taught elementary and middle school for fourteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop.