Ridgewood third graders learning more than reading from ‘Wonder’

| March 23, 2018

Kayla Miller’s third graders posed for a group photo with their “Choose Kind” shirts. Several students also have signs showing the need for an end to bullying. Miller teaches reading for both third grade classes and is having them read the book “Wonder.” Josie Sellers | Beacon

Jenny Olinger’s third graders posed for a group photo with their “Choose Kind” shirts. Several students also have signs showing the need for an end to bullying. The third grade reading teacher, Kayla Miller, is having students read the book “Wonder.” Josie Sellers | Beacon

WEST LAFAYETTE – Kayla Miller is having her third graders at Ridgewood Elementary School do more than just read the book “Wonder.”

“We are breaking it down and focusing on more than reading and writing,” she said. “I want them to learn life lessons from it.”

The book features Auggie who suffers from a medical condition that led to a facial difference. He spent most of his childhood being homeschooled, but in fifth grade his parents decided to enroll him at a local middle school. The book follows his time at school as he tries to make new friends and deal with bullies.

“We have discussions about what is happening in the book and what the kids think should be happening,” Miller said.

She also has a game for the students where they are prompted to think about how to handle real life situations and even threw in some art and writing projects. Some of the writing projects were done at home to start conversations with family members and others were completed at school.

“In the book Auggie wears an astronaut helmet so we colored helmets and then passed out papers (that are connected to the helmets) that everyone had to write a compliment to that person on,” Miller said. “No one knows who they are from though.”

On March 20 she presented them with t-shirts with a simple, but bold statement – Choose Kind.

“There is bullying that goes on right here and this year we’ve had a lot nitpicking with the kids,” Miller said. “I thought the book would put the issue in perspective for them. We just started last Tuesday (March 13) and I’ve already seen a big difference in them.”

One of her students, Adam White said the book is fun, sad and a bit strange. He’s enjoyed reading it and doing the project where they had to give each other compliments.

“There are 22 nice things up there (by his astronaut helmet),” White said. “My favorite is the one that says, ‘You are a brave Army man.’”

He has trouble walking and encourages other students to just talk to people who are different than them.

Parker Snyder, another of Miller’s students, thinks the book has taught them better ways to treat people.

“It’s a good book for talking about how to be nice to people and help people,” Snyder said.

He also liked their astronaut art / writing project.

“The compliments made me feel good and it was pretty easy to compliment others,” Snyder said.

Kim Kehl, who co-teaches reading with Miller, said she has been pleasantly surprised by how into the book the students are.

“We never have to tell them to follow along or that we’re on page 122,” Kehl said. “They have their book markers and are sliding them down, anxiously waiting on what’s next. It is a well written book, with good vocabulary and inspiring quotes.”

She is very happy Miller pursued this project.

“This was all her idea,” Kehl said. “She went to the principal and asked for the funds to be able to buy the hardback books. We really appreciate the administration letting us do this.”

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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