Join #WONDERschools

Since this posted I have made an “official” #WONDERschools site. Visit it now!

If you are planning on reading Wonder this year, you’re not the only one.

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Many teachers across the country and world are using Wonder as a springboard for discussions about acceptance and bullying. The addition of the chooseKIND campaign offers even more reason to read Wonder.

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Besides, Wonder is flat out a great book–one that keeps spreading by word of mouth.

Deb Tyo (@chocolateair) and some other Twitter folks thought it would be cool to gather all the Wonder-reading teachers and schools under the hashtag #WONDERschools so we could share ideas and resources and hopefully connect teachers, students, and classrooms.

We would like to take this a step further by compiling contact information for these teachers so you may contact one another easily through email, atwitter, Skype, Google +, etc. Please fill out the form below if you are planning on reading Wonder at any time this year. I will post the spreadsheet of collected information shortly. We are looking forward to uniting behind #WONDERschools.

{We would appreciate you posting this form in your blog. Just Direct Message me at @DavidAEtkin and I will send you the code. It would also be helpful if we retweeted one another’s posting of this form. Thank you so much.}

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“Choose Kind”–inspired by WONDER

How important is the message of Wonder?

Important enough that the publisher has set up a whole site dedicated to the message of the book:

[Click this picture to jump to the site….after you finish reading this post.]

Important enough that the message is being spread in NYC’s Times Square:

As I have blogged about many timesWONDER is a book with a huge heart. It should be required reading for all humans. Skyping with author RJ Palacio just deepened my affection for the book.

When I was on Twitter the other week, I saw that Lauren Donovan, a PR and social media rep for Random House Kids, was talking about “Choose Kind” cards. I quietly *raised my hand and requested some. She sent them right out. This is what they look like:

Today in classes I will draw names and pass some of these out. I will also encourage my students to sign the PLEDGE. I did:

And I will fill out this certificate and hang it in my doorway.

Will you join me?

And will you take a couple minutes to write a response to Wonder on the site?

I have been signing yearbooks with CHOOSE KIND as the year ends. Now the students will know what it’s all about.

If you’re a blogger or have a way to promote this campaign, grab the CHOOSE KIND button on the side of my blog and add it to yours.

Thank you for making the world a better place–one person at a time.

Skyping with WONDER author RJ Palacio

On Friday, May 18th, RJ Palacio joined the 140 Sweet Home Middle School students on AlphaTeam and Team Possible via Skype to discuss WONDER.

It took a few attempts to connect–anxious moments indeed–but that just gave us time to raffle off some great titles that Kim Krug of Monkey See, Monkey Do brought along for the students.  By the time we connected and RJ popped up on the screen, the students were pretty pumped up.

Yeah–we teachers were too.

Here is the intro we gave RJ. (We were asked to call her RJ, just in case you were wondering.  Just another thing that we enjoyed about her:):Once in a while a book comes along that creates an unmistakable buzz.

We started hearing this buzz in 2011 on the book blogs we follow—like the Nerdy Book Club blog.

Wonder, and its hashtag #thewonderofwonder, started burning up the Twitterverse.  When we had the opportunity to get an advance copy of this WONDER, we jumped.

There are many books that are exciting. Many books that are thrilling.  Now that we’ve all read WONDER, I think we can agree that Wonder…is a life changer. It’s about being a better person. It’s about treating others with kindness.

Wonder can be summarized with two quotes from the book:


Mr. Browne’s first precept: When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.
&
Be kinder than is necessary.

There are not too many times that a book really makes such an impact on us that we feel as though we need to expose as many people to it as we can.  Fortunately being a teacher allows for me the forum to do so.  We hope that all of you have enjoyed listening to the lives of the characters in WONDER as much as we have enjoyed reading them to you.  We would like to thank R.J. Palacio for her willingness to offer her time to us and to allow us to discuss this “WONDER”ful book.


And with that, we give you—RJ PALACIO!

DAVID: It was a little overwhelming to hear RJ speak and answer the students’ questions. After reading WONDER 4 times (once on my own, then aloud to three classes), I feel like the characters are my friends. To hear from the woman who invented these friends of mine was amazing.

BRENT: Her perspectives and explanations as to the characters motives brought a whole new understanding to WONDER for me.  I had these ideas about who everyone was and what they intended and to hear R.J. give additional background and insight as to why she had these “friends” act how they did was very cool.We had our students create questions about WONDER ahead of time so that we could choose a number of them to be read at our Skype session.  We did this for time reasons and also to ensure that the questions asked were not repeated or things that we had already discussed.

Here are a list of the questions that ended up being chosen and asked to R.J. by our students.

QUESTION TOPICS THAT STUDENTS GENERATED INCLUDED:

  • Why did you choose to write from different points of view?
  • Why didn’t  you write from Julian’s POV?
  • Why was Justin’s section all in lowercase?
  • Who chose the artwork for the book? Why did the pictures have only one eye?
  • Why didn’t Mr. Tushman do anything about Julian bullying Auggie if he knew about it?
  • How did you know so much Star Wars stuff?
  • Where did you get the idea for the precepts?
  • How did you choose the song quotes?
  • Have you been bullied? How did you handle it? How would you now?
  • What was the most emotional part of the book for you? (R.J. said that this was one of the best questions she had been asked!!)
  • Have your friends and family been inspired by the book?
  • Is there any future for WONDER in movies or television?

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DAVID: I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to blink back tears at a few points in the conversation. RJ’s answers were insightful and thought provoking.

BRENT: I agree.  I was blown away by her responses.  She took each question and responded with a very well thought out response.  It was really moving to hear her describe her characters as though they are real people.  I find that many times I feel that way as a I read a story but that usually diminishes as I get to discussing the book with others.  It was refreshing to hear her speak about them in that way.

DAVID: It was also rewarding to have my mom there to experience the interview with me. My whole family has read and discussed WONDER. My mom was thoroughly impressed with our students and RJ. We gushed about it for a long time afterwards.We concluded our time together with this:

Thanks to Monkey See, Monkey Do bookstore, we received discounted WONDER copies that our students were able to pre-order.  We ended up selling over 40 copies.

Links that you might be interested in:

Brent’s Todaysmeet blog post:
http://wp.me/pjlXg-61
Brent’s original Wonder post:
http://wp.me/pjlXg-2L

David’s Todaysmeet blog post:
http://wp.me/p28nqv-bR

David’s original Wonder post:
http://wp.me/p28nqv-6N – original chat
http://wp.me/p28nqv-ci – video
http://wp.me/p28nqv-cJ – final chat and video

RJ Palacio’s blog.

To show how the WORDofWONDER has spread, I played around with making this flowchart.  I call it my WONDERtracker. As big as it is, it is still incomplete:

Do you want to hear the unofficial soundtrack of WONDER? 1) join PING in iTunes; 2) search for David Etkin–click; 3) click on the “Wonder of WONDER” list.
Written by:
David Etkin (@DavidAEtkin)
and
Brent Peterson (@BrentJPeterson) / http://bjp7834.wordpress.com