I teach in a tight-knit, rural community in southern Georgia. Many of our students live in generational poverty. This number is so high that 88% of our student body qualifies for free and reduced lunch. In fact, many of them will be the first in their family to graduate high school or go to college. As teachers we know that education is the key to helping them rise above comfortable norms to reach their full potential.
Specifically, the more these students grow to love reading and increase their Lexile levels, the more likely they are to break the cycle of systemic poverty in their lives.
For that reason, my colleagues and I focus on novel based instruction in our classrooms to accomplish this task. Teaching all of our reading, language, and writing standards through engaging, thought-provoking novels not only teaches students the curriculum, but gives them enduring understanding and (hopefully) makes them lifelong readers.
One of my favorite book for middle school students is Wonder. Not only can I teach them ELA standards through this novel, but I can also help them understand a very human component - how to see their actions through the eyes of others. This is essential because I don’t just teach Reading, Writing, and Grammar, I teach little souls who grow into adulthood. I would like to have as much of a compassionate influence as possible as I do. They need this as much as they need anything academic. Fortunately, with Wonder, we don’t have to choose. They can have a novel that addresses academics and humanity at the same time.
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