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Reading and writing for a better school, a better world

Second graders in Joanne Karchawer’s classroom have been thinking a lot about their words and their voice—with a little inspiration from one of their favorite children’s author, Peter H. Reynolds.

Students look at and point to projects posted on their classroom door.“His books have a very simple way of making kids feel good about themselves and to wish the same for others,” Mrs. Karchawer said.

Most recently, two of Reynolds’ books—”The Word Collector” and “Say Something!”—helped students make the important connection between the power of words and the power of kindness in their daily interactions.

In addition to reading and writing activities, the books’ themes sparked reflection and conversation, helped moderate conflicts, influenced personal choices, and inspired a class project.

A compelling storyteller herself, Mrs. Karchawer shared with the class a fond memory of her child-rearing years. Holding up a hand-mirror and erasable marker, she demonstrated how her kids would leave her words of encouragement and appreciation on the mirror she used to get ready for work every morning.

Having learned some great new words from Jerome, “The Word Collector,” and empowered by “Say Something!” to use their own voice, students wrote and illustrated their own positive messages and ideas for making their school a better place.

“This has really had an impact on them,” Mrs. Karchawer said. “One student who recognized he had hurt another with his words, asked to spend some time by himself to think about it. He went beyond saying ‘I’m sorry.’ He felt sad about hurting his friend, and he wanted to reflect on what he could do better next time.”

Scotchtown is encouraging the practice of kindness as part of character  education, and in the context of social emotional. Recently the school closed their Spirit Week with Kindness Assemblies for all grades.