Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Wonder of it all

 Im just getting started on the next ‘big idea’ from Nellie McClung Elementary School. But before I tell you what it is, let me get everyone up to speed with what this entails. 

Each spring teachers at the school select a ‘big idea’ or theme that they will explore in depth in the upcoming school year.  Every grade, Kindergarten to grade 6, develops the idea in a way that is appropriate for their students, while covering the curriculum.  In June, I’m told what this ‘big idea’ is, read the planning notes, and then briefly discuss the notes to help get a clearer idea about the big idea.  I have two months to delve into this topic on my own, while keeping in mind the questions and concepts already brought forth by the teachers. In late August I will present the teachers with a range of books that I think will tie into their topic.  This is a big project but one that I find very rewarding as it gets my brain going in all directions.  Love it!

(If you're interested in reading more about previous 'big ideas' click on the tag Nellie McClung Elementary School.)

And, so, without further ado – the next big idea is – PERSPECTIVE.

This is a huge topic to work through but one that has tons of potential. Some of my initial brainstorming overlaps with that done by the teachers at Nellie McClung, which is good.  Means we’re on the same page.  One element that came up a few times in the planning notes and in my own response is point of view.  How does this differ from perspective?  How are the two terms used?  What about bias?  Or single vs. multiple perspectives?  Oh, so many questions. I have a feeling I’ll be going back over this one element a few times as I realize that I use the two terms interchangeable.

And then I read Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Wonder is about a boy with significant facial abnormalities.  He’s going to school for the first time, starting grade 5 and he’s nervous, to say the least.  Once school starts, there are a few difficulties that must be sorted through and challenges to be met.  Auggie does make friends on his own, learning much about himself and others along the way.  Some of the issues Auggie deals with are the same as many middle school kids – making and keeping friends, becoming more independent, issues about popularity, bullying. There are times he wants to quit but doesn’t.  There are times he’s incredibly happy to be where he is. 

In a word it’s – wonderful, and fits well with the idea ‘perspective’.  Though the book is told by several different people or points of view (Auggie, his sister, her boyfriend, and a couple of his friends), we can start analysing the characters to see what defines or shades their perspectives.  I see potential for looking at some of the minor characters who don’t talk to us directly but are important to the storyline, such as the principal, Mr. Tushman, or the mother of one of the boys who gives Auggie a hard time.  Who are they? What motivates them? And what is their perspective?

So far, I’m working with the idea that point of view is the way we see something.  Whereas, perspective is the way we understand something.  This understanding is built on layers of our experiences and what we know to create something meaningful.  I’m still grasping the nuances of this, as you can see. If you have any ideas about the differences between point of view and perspective feel free to share with us in the comments section.

Overall, I’m excited with the idea of perspective and the opportunity I’ll have to recommend a variety of resources like Wonder.  My perspective?  It’s all about a good story.


Anonymous said...

A great picture book for perspective is Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. Four 'people' have the same experience.

Good luck with your planning.


Tammy Flanders said...

Yes, you are absolutely right! This is one I'll bring in. Thanks for the reminder.

Looking for the Write Words said...


This sounds like a wonderful project and I love Wonder too. It is quite possibly going to be our first read aloud of the year. I have a couple more weeks to decide. Another candidate is The One and Only Ivan. Your thoughts on perspective vs. point of view are thought-provoking. Would a book like Love That Dog by Sharon Creech fit here? Then there's the sequel Hate That Cat. If I did a chapter book list of 10, they would surely make the cut! I'll be interested to read more about this. ~ Theresa

Template Design | Elque 2007