Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wonder Precepts & Quotes

Mr. Browne's precepts play an important part in Wonder. In addition to his precepts, Auggie and his classmates offer some of their own over the summer. Finally, if we pull some important and powerful lines from the book itself, we get some quotes that can stand on their own as precepts. 

Take a look at the following list of  Mr. Browne's precepts and quotes from the story. How would you explain what they mean? How would you illustrate the truths that each one states? How might the message of these precepts and quotes apply to our lives in class, in school, at home, and in our community?

As we discuss these quotes further, you will choose one to explain in more detail. We are making a display in the hallway of our explanations. Your poster should include the quote itself, illustrations of what that quote looks like, and if needed, additional explanation of what it means to you.

Before you start, think about these things.
  • These will be on display in the hall. Show others in school your best work. 
  • Write neatly.
  • Plan ahead. Make a sketch. Rough drafts aren't only for writing. They work for posters too.
  • Put in the effort necessary to do you best.
  • Make the lesson clear to others. We learned a lot from Wonder. Help others learn from Wonder too by making your message clear and easy to understand.
And now, here are the quotes:
  • "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." —Dr. Wayne Dyer
  • "Your deeds are your monuments." —Inscription on ancient Egyptian tomb
  • "Have no friends not equal to yourself." —Confucius
  • "Fortune favors the bold." —Virgil
  • "No man is an island, entire of itself." —John Donne
  • "It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." —James Thurber
  • "Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much." —Blaise Pascal
  • "What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful." —Sappho
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." —John Wesley
  • "Just follow the day and reach for the sun." —The Polyphonic Spree
  • "Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world." —Auggie Pullman
  • “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” —Mr. Tushman
  • “Now that I look back, I don't know why I was so stressed about it all this time. Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.” —Auggie Pullman
  • “Sometimes you don't have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone.” —Wonder
  • "Don't try too hard to be cool. It always shows, and that's uncool.” —Amos Conti
  • “Learning who you are is what you're here to do.” —Mr. Browne
  • “It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.” —Charlotte
  • “We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.” —Mr. Tushman
  • “What's cool about really little kids is that they don't say stuff to try to hurt your feelings. . . Big kids, though: they know what they're saying.” —Auggie
  • "Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than necessary." —J. M. Barrie
  • "Don't judge a book boy by its cover his face." —Wonder
Here are two examples from Mr. W. The first one uses a picture to help show the meaning. The second uses words to explain the meaning and the pictures are used mainly to decorate the poster.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

So, fourth graders. What if I told you that The Curious Garden is based on a real place? Where there's a real garden in a real, abandoned elevated train? What if I told you that, even better, it was made into a public park and you could go there? (That is, if you were ever in the neighborhood. It's pretty far from us.)

Well, it's true. At the end of the book, author Peter Brown shares about the Highline in Manhattan. After learning about this real place, Mr. Brown wondered, "What would happen if an entire city decided to truly cooperate with nature? How would that city change? How would it all begin?"

His answer is The Curious Garden, and it all started with a character named Liam.

Here's more information about the real Highline.

The first video talks about how the park was developed on the Highline railroad tracks.

This next video tells a lot about the history of the Highline itself, long before it was a park, followed by how the park got started.

Finally, the you can take a tour yourself through Google Street View.

View Larger Map

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Your Final Thoughts on The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 15

The last chapter of The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 has some more historical things, but they aren't too important. There are things like what the couch might look like at the World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital or 1960's TV cartoons like Bat Fink or Felix the Cat. Instead of looking at those, let's focus on what's really important. Here are some questions to think about and to guide our discussion in class.

The Wool Pooh
  • What did Kenny see in the water? What did he really see (do we know for sure?) and what does he describe seeing?  Is Kenny the kind of kid who would just completely make something up while telling the story?
  • What did Kenny see at the church? Again, what did he really see and what does he describe seeing?
  • What is the connection between the two events, Kenny at Collier's Landing and Kenny at the church?
  • What possible explanations are there for the Wool Pooh?

The Church
  • How does Kenny describe the events of that Sunday morning?
  • How does Joetta describe the events of that Sunday morning?
  • Why the differences? Is someone lying? Is someone making something up? Why are there two different explanations for the same event?

  • Even though Kenny is the narrator, could Byron be considered a main character? Why or why not?
  • Describe Byron in chapters 1-10. What kind of person is he? What words and actions show you those traits?
  • Describe Byron in chapters 12-15. Is he the same person? Exactly the same, mostly the same, sort of the same, not really the same, or totally different? What words and actions show you how Byron has changed?
  • Look back at chapter 11. (That's the chapter when the family arrives in Birmingham.) When does Kenny start to realize that a change might be happening?
  • Why did the family go to Birmingham in the first place? Did they get the result they intended? Did that result come in the way they had planned?
Finally, thanks, everyone, for the great discussion and for making The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 a great read aloud.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 14

There's only one thing to preview before reading. Most of this post we will revisit after reading the chapter.

Kenny sits under a magnolia tree in Grandma Sands's backyard. We don't have those in Wisconsin because the climate won't allow them to grow.

Continue reading below only after finishing 
Chapter 14.

This is certainly a tough chapter. Readers try to understand what happened to Kenny and think about what he really saw compared to what he thinks he saw. Readers also try to sort out what happened to Joey and what she says she saw.

We know for sure that the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed and that the results were horrible.

This is an actual event in Birmingham and United States history.  Here are a few pictures from that day followed by some links to more information.  I'm curious to hear your reactions to this part of history.  If you would like, leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

Here is a sign in Birmingham today remembering three of the bombing victims.  After that is a picture of the church today.

Here is an article written on the 40th anniversary of the bombing. This September, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the bombing.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 13

Kenny meets the Wool Pooh, this guy's evil twin brother.


Okay, we all know that's not really who (or what) Kenny met at Collier's Landing. Who do you think Kenny met? Why do you think that?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 12

Mr. Robert and Dad are discussing raccoon hunting and Mr. Robert's hunting dog, Toddy. He tells Dad "that dog won't hunt no more." He says "both of us go to the point where we just couldn't pull the trigger." Mr. Robert compares him to boxer Joe Louis, one of the greatest boxers of all time and a very famous African-American athlete. When he got older, Mr. Robert says he just waved his left fist like a threat but couldn't pull the trigger, or couldn't punch. Here's Joe Louis throwing that left fist.

Toddy was a "coon dog." His job would have been to "tree" a raccoon, or chase it so it climbed into a tree. Then the hunter is able to shoot the raccoon.

So Grandma Sands must have seen The Wizard of Oz about a million times because her laugh sounded just like the Wicked Witch of the West. Here's a classic scene from the movie, and that famous laugh is right at the end. 

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 11

When Kenny wakes up he asks Dad, "Are we there yet?" Dad responsds,

"Oh no, et tu, Brute?" 

The phrase et tu, Brute was made famous in a play by Shakespeare called Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was a real person in history, a government leader. He was attacked by a group of senators. The story, or legend, says that he tried to fight back, but then saw that his good friend, Marcus Junius Brutus, usually just called Brutus, was with the attackers. Caesar looked to Brutus and said, "Et tu, Brute?" This means "You too, Brutus?" or "Even you, Brutus?" or "And you, Brutus?"

The rest of the family has already woken up and asked the same question, so basically Dad is saying, "Oh no, you too, Kenny?" Maybe he could have said, "Awww, man. Even you are buggin' me with this, Kenny?"

Dad is listening to country music. He mentions a song about a "truck drivin' man." This song was originally written in 1954. This guy, Buck Owens, recorded it in 1964, so Dad wouldn't have heard this guy sing it. Nevertheless, here's the song Dad probably heard.

When they arrive at Grandma Sands' house, Kenny expects her to look like a troll. Maybe like one of these guys.


Kenny expects the showdown between Grandma Sands and Byron to be an epic battle, matching two incredible forces against one another. He mentions these possibilities:


Godzilla vs. King Kong


Frankenstein vs. Dracula


Bobo Brazil vs. The Sheik

Instead, it appears to Kenny that the battle will look more like one of these match-ups.

King Kong vs. Bambi

Bobo Brazil vs. Captain Kangaroo, famous children's TV show host.

Dracula vs. a giraffe (and Byron is all neck!)

Ladies and gentlemen, let's get readyyyyyy to rrrrrrumblllllllllle!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday's Lessons

Sorry I can't be at school today, but never fear. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I CAN be here with you! Down below you will see a video for each class. It includes the day's read aloud and directions and maybe some links as well. Watch your grade's video, follow the directions, and I will see you all on Tuesday.

Fourth and Fifth Graders, these videos might not load on an iPod. You might need to use a computer or laptop. Sixth grade, your video and links will be no problem on an iPod.

Fourth Grade:

Here is the final chapters of The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School. After you've listened to the read aloud, you may silently read.

Sixth Grade:

Here is a video of the real Ivan. Watch the video, then read the articles linked below. There are additional instructions at the end of the Sixth Grade section, below the links.

Here is some brief information about the real Ivan from Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan. Click here.

This is Ivan's official web page from Zoo Atlanta where he lived. It includes a timeline of events in his life: Click here.

Here are three stories about Ivan. They update you on the life of the real Ivan at Zoo Atlanta and include a lot of historic information.   Story #1   : :   Story #2   : :   Story #3

After viewing the video and reading the information on the links, please take a few minutes and write a response to the book, to the news stories, Ivan's life, or anything else about Ivan that comes to mind. Please leave your paragraphs where you would normally turn in your journals. Please write on a separate sheet of paper or type and print it out.

Fifth Grade:

First, check out the information page for chapter 10. There's stuff about outhouses, the Sears catalog, Buster Brown, and Interstate 75 through the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee. Click here for the link.

When the read aloud is done, you may silently read or finish your journal entries (as needed) for the week. And now, chapter 10 of The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 . . . 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 10

Everyone probably knows what an outhouse is, and most of us probably feel the same about them as Kenny and Byron, but just in case you've never had the pleasure of . . . um . . . utilizing such facilities, here are a couple images. The second image includes room for a friend AND a Sears catalog.


Here's another look at a Sears catalog. Look at all those pages! That should last a while in the outhouse, wouldn't you think?

Joetta is wearing Buster Brown shoes. Kenny says that he wonders what that little white boy with the girl's haircut would think if he knew he was going to get stepped on every day by Joetta. Here's the Buster Brown logo and a pair of Buster Brown shoes. See the logo inside the shoes?


The Watsons take a driving break at a rest stop in the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee. The kids are creeped out by the dark and the mountains. These images show an interstate through the Tennessee Appalachian Mountains and what the path might have looked like to the outhouse. Now imagine both at night.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 9

When Kenny and his dad talk about why they are going to Alabama, Dad talks about lessons that need to be learned, especially for Byron as he becomes a young man in America in the early 1960's. Byron seems to want to find trouble and laugh at it, but Dad says "he's got to realize the world doesn't have a lot of jokes waiting for him." Kenny mentions seeing "the pictures of a bunch of really mad white people with twisted-up faces screaming and giving dirty finger signs to some little Negro kids who were trying to go to a school."

These pictures are from 1957 when nine black students first attended Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Since this was six years before our book, Kenny is probably referring to other situations and events. The images he saw, however, are probably similar.

Dad is worried about listening to hillbilly music while driving. He says that he and Momma had an agreement when they got married about either of them watching the Lawrence Welk Show or listening to country music. Here's a 1963 clip from the Lawrence Welk Show and the #1 country song of the year in 1962. What do you think? Should Dad be worried?

On pages 130-132, Mama outlines her plan for traveling from Flint to Birmingham. Kenny says that they would take Interstate Highway 75, a road that goes all the way from Flint to Florida. I-75 actually goes through Atlanta, Georgia, so the Watsons would have had to take I-59 once they reached Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here's a map of the Watson family's route:

View Larger Map

Byron mentions Ozzie and Harriet. It's a TV show that ran from 1952 to 1966. Isn't this a nice, happy looking family?

As they drive through Detroit, Momma points out Tiger Stadium on their left. The Detroit Tigers played baseball there from 1912 to 1999. The Detroit Lions NFL team used it as their home field from 1938 to 1974. In this image it appears that Interstate-75 is just being built. You can see what looks to be construction on the right side of the image. (But I may be mistaken.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 8

Kenny mentions "a new hood thing." He's talking about the hood ornament that's on the front of a car, right in the middle. They used to be pretty fancy. Here's a collection of what Plymouth hood ornaments looked like when the Brown Bomber was made in 1948. It's a little hard to see the wings. Maybe one wing has already been "scientifically and mathmatically" removed.

Not many men use a shaving brush anymore, let alone twice before shaving like Kenny's dad, but this is what Dad would have used to apply his shaving soap. Next to it is a bottle of Old Spice after shave. This bottle was the style used in 1963.


Kenny's dad was gone a pretty long time if he missed all shows Kenny watched. He mentions Felix the Cat, Soupy Sales, Beany and Cecil, The Rae Deane Show, and Betty Boop. Then he says the worst cartoon ever made was Clutch Cargo. Here's a clip. You decide if Kenny is right.

This one was actually mentioned at the very end of chapter 7. It says "Dad brought home the TT AB-700 in the Brown Bomber." The TrueTone AB-700 would have been similar to this item.

So, who knows how records play music? Let's work backward. Now songs are digital downloads. Before that there were CDs. Continuing backward in music technology, there were cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, and then these relics called records. A needle rested on a record, the record spun slowly, and gravity held the needle in place. The needle sensed bumps and marks in the grooves of the record and transferred those bumps to sound. However, this could happen, especially if the player was bumped. Hmmm . . . why might a car not be the best place for a record player?

Kenny jokes about Walter Cronkite talking about something on the news. In the days before instant information via the Internet, 24 hour news channels, and Twitter, most Americans got their news from two places. Newspapers and the evening news. Walter Cronkite was the nightly news anchor for the CBS evening news from 1962-1981.

Momma's song:

Kenny's song:

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Chapter 7

Two of the following people are mentioned by name in chapter 7, and one person is not. Their names aren't really as important as their hairstyles. (I like one of them much more than the others. Just saying.)

The first person is a famous singer from the 50's and 60's named James Brown. The second is a man named Yul Brynner, famous for his lead role in The King and I. The final image is Bozo the Clown.

Once again, Indians circling the wagons. Where's Byron? Where's Momma?

Kenny pretends he's holding a bugle to play what he calls the "Day is Done . . ." song that's played at funerals. The song is more commonly known as "Taps."

If you've ever studied wolves, you know that there is one wolf in every pack known as the Alpha. He's the leader. There are sometimes challenges to the Alpha by other wolves in the pack, but the biggest and strongest usually ends up being the leader. 

So what happens if a Chihuahua wants to challenge the Alpha wolf? What if "Every Chihuahua in America Lines Up to Take a Bite Out of" the Alpha wolf?