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Agents of Change Read Alouds

Our students (and probably us too) seem to think that unless we can do some major task or undertaking, we won't make a difference or change. We think we need to be famous to have people listen to us, or lots of money to buy what we want. However, small everyday actions can spread and inspire change... change that should be acknowledged and shared. One of my goals this school year is to motivate my students to be agents of change and the way we do that is by building our character, educating ourselves, and implementing acts to make our school, community and world a better place.

I began searching for books to read and found some common themes that I'm going to bring up with my students. Check out the 4 themes below with possible books to check out as well!

Check out these two read alouds that show how small acts can have major impacts.
Click the image to go to links to for more descriptions.


I've read both of these in years past. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson leaves the kids in a bit of an awe... the ending isn't what you typically expect. We do an activity with stones and water after we read it... you'll see what I'm talking about if you pick it up and read! Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson has a great message and shows the chain reaction of how doing something good can spread happiness and kindness. It's very repetitious, so get ready!

It's important to find something that we are truly passionate about because this is going to take time and effort. If we find and follow something that matters, we are more likely to invest the time and energy necessary to make a difference and our passion is seen and heard more easily to others. When we follow something that matters, we are able to see a problem, but more importantly, start imagining solutions.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman is one of those classics that can be used in so many ways! I've used this book in the past when talking about gender stereotypes, but it's also great about showing the importance of holding your ground and going after something that is meaningful to you. The second book from Kobi Yamada after What Do You Do With an Idea? is What Do You Do With a Problem? I would highly recommend reading the second book first, which talks about how problems can fog our brains, follow us around, and sometimes feel like they can overtake our lives, yet when you address it, it can teach you something. How great then to go back to the first book and talk about when you have that idea... that solution... what do you do with it? Great discussions are to be had!

In our diverse world, we often hear things that seem like, "DUH!" such as, "Everyone deserves to be treated with respect." However, we're naive to think that this actually happens (sad truth). But we still need to stand up when we see injustice and work towards fixing it.

Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh uses a real life story on how a family fought against segregated schools in California. I like showing my students that progress takes time sometimes and persistence. Real world examples remind them of this concept and are great tools to have them connect to.

One of the greatest resources to show how anyone can make a change is through biographies. There are so many amazing stories of people fighting against injustice in a peaceful way. Many of these people are against the odds- they aren't the famous or wealthy individuals we sometimes picture in our minds. Instead they are people who see a problem, have solutions, and have the tenacity to push forward in times of difficulty. I love stories that show young kids as the leaders of change or other minorities that my students can connect to.



These are some of the biographies I really love. Side by Side by Monica Brown reinforces finding others who believe in your dream and working together peacefully for a cause through Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles is another classic but speaks to students. Empathy questions go great with this read aloud. I just discovered these other two stories that students might not know much about. They also are a bit more advanced so I'd recommend them for upper elementary. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaste Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel highlights a story I had never heard of myself. It's about a young immigrant girl who came to America only to realize she'd need to work in a garment factory to help her family. Low wages and unfair treatment made her realize this was not the America she dreamed of. Even though Clara was a young girl, she made great waves! You'll need to teach into some of the history, but it's a great story! The last book is called For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story written by Rebecca Langston-George. This is a longer picture book, but I love the illustrations and how the author addresses her story. I like this also because the events are pretty recent to show students that change is happening now still. Not to mention, I love a leader who focuses on the power of education.

To help your own students imagine a better world around them and the steps they could do today to make it happen, you may be interested in my Agents of Change Flipbook and Brainstorming Pages.

Check it out in my store below!

Monday Made It #8

I'm back for some MMI! If you didn't catch me last week, I was hosting over on the main stage at Tara's blog! Make sure you check it out!

Here's what I've been up to!

I'm really on this kick of motivating and leading my students to create a more welcoming space. With that, I started to think about what I wanted to use for hopes and dreams this year. I've used the same structure for the last 4 years, but since I'm moving up to 4th and my heart is pulling me in a slightly different way, I came up with this! I used the idea that instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what problems they want to solve. I stopped into summer school 2 weeks ago when I was at school working in my room and saw some of my kiddos from last year and some of which I would get again this year. They did hopes and dreams for summer school. One of the kiddos I had last year simply wrote, "I hope to protect my family and keep them safe." My heart sank, as I don't think a 9 year old should have that weight on his shoulders, but I'm also so proud that he realizes that he can make an impact. And so this agent of change flipbook was made.

It wasn't going to be a flipbook. I simply started making some brainstorming pages for our work.

But then I thought how important each of these questions was and wanted a way to display it all at once for each student. So a flip book was my way to go. The brainstorming pages will still be used to start our conversation and ideas. The flipbook then is a place to finalize it all.

I also go inspired by this post from Ladybug's Teaching Files. Seriously- she is one of those bloggers who does NOT produce an awful idea. I dont' know how she does it, but her design and organization just speaks to my heart. When she blogged about her math rotations, I knew this was my solution I'd been looking for to challenge my more advanced students. You MUST check out her post!

And because I'm a color coordinating crazy lady, I made my own signs and changed some of the rotations to fit my needs. I won't be doing it exactly like her, because I know me and I need to start small, but her thorough post helped me to picture and map out our math block by using this as a model.

I'll have two groups: triangle is on level and square is advanced. That's not to say I won't have students below level, however, I feel like over the years, I've gotten better at accommodating my students who are below grade level and can incorporate that into my instruction and work with my on level kids. I need to push myself to challenge my more advanced students. Luckily, our curriculum does provide some activities for differentiation for each lesson, but I'm also enjoying making my own activities and tasks cards that I can tailor to our work.

I've mapped out how to split my time and as soon as I can access my math curriculum again on line- as for some reason, I only have access to the spanish versions- I can start planning out my first couple weeks and start pulling specific resources.

As I get closer to implementing flexible seating, I continue to think how I'm going to roll it out to my students and families, starting even at our open house night before the school year. I plan to have this flexible seating "pre-exploration" flow chart at their spaces at open house. This will allow them to see the different types of seating and how they can be used, while I also get a vibe to see what students think. Once the year gets underway, I have an actual exploration chart to let students try out the seats, name the subject, rate their focus and write any notes. A spot that might work for reading may not work for them for writing. These spots are really just for independent work and group work, as our whole group instruction takes place at our carpet. I'm not getting all the tables I was hoping for (too much shuffling of our custodial staff) so I'll have a few more desks than planned, but I bet it will all work out just fine! Side note- I tried to make my own little clip art for our seating options... that dang regular chair took me way too long to admit to make!

Before I skip out, many of you have asked for some of my past Monday Made Its. Check them out in my TpT store now! I even added a tropical brights color option for the calendar to fit other classroom color themes!

After a super busy week last week, I look forward to enjoying all the posts and catching up!

Monday Made It #6

I barely made it back this week. It has been one of those weeks when I have the best of intentions to get work done and then things come up. Between a storm coming, knocking down our tree and loosing power for 10 hours, to the tragedies our nation is currently witnessing, to now a sickness (I blame the corn starch from The Color Run), I didn't get nearly as much done as I wanted to. However, I'm hopeful that this coming week I'll be ready to go!

As always, thanks to Tara for hosting my favorite linky party and for the awesome shout out from one of my past made-its!

First up is a half made it/half organized it system that I am SO pumped for! With my change to flexible seating, I've been trying to think of ways to manage all of my students' supplies. My solution is a called a "home base" station and here is it!

I made the home base signs and attached them using binder clips and some velcro. I'll have between 6-8 home bases scattered around the room. That way, when we transition, there will be a limited number of students in certain space so that there isn't congestion. At their home base, they will find their name tag/pencil holder. At the end of each day, they will put their name tag back at their home base so it doesn't get lost and then when they come in the next morning, they will be ready to go!

Each student will also get a drawer. This drawer will have the main focus for reading however. This is where they will keep their chapter books and reading notebook, since I won't be doing a book box or bag for the library this year. What I love about these sterilite drawers (or I should say ONE thing I love...) is that they have built-in ID labels that you can write on with an expo marker or even a sharpie (and then use an expo marker to color over and remove... believe it, best trick ever!). This will make it great for when I have new students... I can just erase and write a new name!

Now for the goodies on top. Another thing I love about these Sterilite drawers is their built-in compartments on top. It'll house a lot of every day supplies for my kiddos! 

1:  A perfect spot for a pack of post-its
2: My handmade scissors keeper (more on that below)
3. A cup to house extra pencils, expo markers, or highlighters (these were $3 for a set of 3 in the same aisle as the drawers at target)
4. Our name tag and pencil holder place for the end of the day
5. A prime spot for erasers or eraser caps
6. A pencil sharpener fits perfectly in this slot!
7. Mini-stapler and left over parts from the binder clips to change out charts and name plates. I got 3 of these staples for a total of $0.03 at Office Max yesterday!

Back to number 2 for a second: I wanted a way to store the scissors so I made up little scissor keeper blocks. Super simple!

1. Get a block of floral foam from any craft store
2. Use a knife to cut them up into little blocks (I think I got 6 out of 1 block...)
3. Take a pice of felt and cut it into quarters
4. Wrap the block like a present using hot glue to secure
5. Use an adult size scissors to cut some slits into the top for your scissors

Lastly, I'm playing catch up with trying to put things into my TpT shop. I managed to get the reference cards from one of my earlier MMI posts this summer. If you are interested in snagging these, they are now available! I'll be adding more as needs pop up in my classroom and then will increase the price. Click here to check them out!

I'm off to rest and hopefully get enough strength to eat some food and check out the other awesome ideas this week!

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