Wonder Teaches Sixth-Graders More than Language Arts Standards

'Wonder' Teaches Sixth-Graders More than Language Arts Standards
Posted on 11/30/2017
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collage of activities surrounding the book "Wonder"Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder by R.J. Palaccio – including every Lakota sixth-grader. And many of those students recently took a field trip to see the story come to the big screen.

Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman, who was born with facial abnormalities, and dreams of being ordinary, fitting in, and making friends at his new school. 

“Starting the year off by reading this book allows endless opportunities,” said Independence sixth grade teacher Shari Jones. “While there are learning opportunities for students to grow as readers and writers, the lessons embedded throughout are so powerful. Reflecting on the book, no matter the students’ background, economic status, reading ability, or appearance, this book speaks to everyone.” Wonder links to curricular standards like ‘What is a community?’ and ‘How does diversity enrich a community?’, but it also connects to character education.

Hopewell sixth grade teacher Donna Bright agrees. “Since Wonder is realistic fiction, and takes place in a present day school, students can relate closely to the characters and their situations.” The novel is written from six different characters’ points of view, providing a perfect opportunity to look at how different characters experience the same events. 

“In Wonder, Auggie feels like he is just an ordinary kid, but he is aware that others do not see him that way,” said Michelle Brown, who teaches at Endeavor Elementary. “His classmates must learn that it is what is on the inside that matters, and these are lessons that my students must learn, too.”

Wonder helps to reinforce character education and anti-bullying programs that take place throughout the district. The story sends a message to students of the importance of doing what is right, and treating everyone with kindness.

“Wonder was probably the best book I’ve ever read,” said Independence sixth-grader Brendan O. “It taught me one of the most important things in life, ‘When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.’ ”

When Wonder premiered at theaters this fall, teachers seized the chance to bring those lessons to life in a new way. “The students were absolutely thrilled to get to see the movie,” said Brown. “When I made the announcement, they all let out a collective squeal.”

The movie and book have had a huge impact on the students. “Seeing Wonder and reading the book was such a big privilege,” said Independence student Emily F. “It was a pure example of how to be kind and I will apply it in my everyday life.”