I wanted to share a project that my class completed before Christmas. It filled our hearts with so much joy, I couldn't wait to blog about it. We have been reading Wonder this semester. Every week we have a guest reader from the community come in to read to us for about 30 minutes. Ours happens to be the mayor of our little town. When he first started coming, I thought Wonder was the perfect book for him to read, and the kids have really looked forward to our Thursday time.
One of the big lessons I have been trying to teach and promote this year is Choose Kind. It doesn't matter if you teach in a big or small, rich or poor school, sixth graders deal with peer pressure. Period. It is one of the biggest years for them to learn to navigate these slippery slopes. The precepts in the book make great discussions about the best way to be your own person and handle yourself. As we were continuing to talk about showing kindness to each other I thought this Choosing Kind project was perfect for my class.
I happen to teach in a fairly rural Title 1 school. Most of my kids don't have a lot. My heart was breaking for them, listening to them tell stories about cars breaking down, and no heat during a recent cold front. I knew I had to do something to make sure they had at least one meal over the Christmas break that was fortifying. I contacted a local church that does a character ed program in the morning at our school, and they donated enough mason jars for our class to make soup and hot chocolate to take home, plus a batch of hot chocolate to donate back to the church for other needy families. I used some donation money as well as classroom money that was not designated for instructional purposes.. although I think my class was getting PLENTY of instruction in doubling classroom size recipes, and bought the ingredients for pasta fagioli and homemade hot chocolate. We didn't want anyone at school to know about our project so we called it the Super Secret Santa Ninja Mission... because well, who doesn't want to be a Secret Santa and a Ninja!
The last week of school we stealthily went to the cafeteria every morning to create our jars. My students loved being able to make something that would feed their families over Christmas break! They were proud that they could contribute to their families meals, and help their parents feel less stress. It was such a wonderful way to bring our classroom community together. Everyone helped each other measure, mix and pour. We listened to Christmas carols, talked about books and fractions, and more importantly spent time coming together as a family. It completely filled my heart!
When we were finished we had 27 jars of soup, and 54 jars of hot chocolate mix! We decorated bags for each item, and then on our last Thursday we presented 21 hot chocolate jars in gift wrapped bags to the members of the church! They were so excited to be receiving this gift, and my students were so proud to be sharing something with their community. It was an amazing experience, and I'm so glad we were able to find a way to #choosekind and think of others during the holiday season.
Yes, we learned more about fractions and measurement conversion. Yes we learned about making text to world connections. But, more important, we learned how we can make connections between people. It was well worth the experience to give up my "precious test-teaching time"-- yes I said it, to create a memory for my students that will help them choose to do something for someone else when it is needed.
Thank you for letting me share! I hope you all have a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday season!