Third and fourth graders read the the book, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and before answering discussion question, put on their philosopher lenses and approached the questions through the eyes of philosophers.
The Giving Tree Summary. The story starts with a boy and his BFF, who just happens to be a tree. Every day the boy climbs the tree, eats the tree’s apples, and sleeps in the tree’s shade, and both the boy and the tree are happy with this arrangement. But, as the boy ages, his needs change. Each time the boy visits, the tree gives him everything she can, including all her branches and her trunk. Reduced to a stump, the tree doesn’t think she has anything left to give when the boy returns once again, this time as an old man. But it turns out a stump is just what the old man needs to sit down and get a little rest. So he does, and the tree is happy.
Guided Discussion. Students pondered topics such as the nature of giving, gifts, altruism and happiness. For example, “What stage (if any) did the boy do something wrong in using the tree as he does? Why was what he did at one stage wrong, but not at a prior stage?”
Student Reflections. Finally, students had the option of drawing a picture showing what the old man could have done with the stump that would have been better than just sitting on it, writing a poem from the point of view of the tree expressing its feelings at one stage in its relationship with the boy, or writing about a gift they’d most like to give and identify who they would give the gift to.
Students read Ray Bradbury’s short story, All Summer in a Day and wrote alternate endings.
All Summer in a Day Summary. A group of schoolchildren live on the planet Venus with their families. They are nine years old, and they are eagerly awaiting a momentous occasion. After 7 years of continuous rain, the scientists on Venus have predicted that the sun will come out today for a brief period of time. Out of jealously for Margot who used to live on Earth and knows what the sun is like, William and the rest of the class lock Margot in a closet. Margot was not let out until the after the sun went away and the rain returned.
Margot takes a look around. She runs outside hoping to catch even the smallest glance of what she had been waiting for. Her face gets paler. Her eyes go gray. her hair is white. Margot crumples to the floor and she never gets back up…Until.. She is 16 in the hospital. It comes. -Colin Grade 7
Margot steps out of the closet. She talks to her teacher, telling her she was gonna take a trip home, her parents were on their way to pick her up. She sprinted outside, got in one of the emergency space ships, and took off. All her classmates ran outside and saw her blasting off. She waved goodbye, and continued on her journey to Earth. –Kaylie Grade 7
Shout Out to Mrs. D’Amico!
Thank you Mrs. D’Amico, Gifted Support Teacher at Manor Middle School and Hambright, for introducing us to the game, Disruptus. Her students LOVE of the game inspired me to give it a try.
How to Play. Disruptus challenges players to think of new ways to use familiar objects or devices. During the game you roll the die, choose the appropriate card or cards, then take one of four actions: Create, Improve, Transform or Disrupt.
Students learned how to create, improve, transform, and disrupt but have not played an actual game yet. Here’s what they have to say so far:
This is different because we usually don’t have to think about solving problems and using objects differently than we already do.
Most classes you need to have only one correct answer, but for this you can have multiple answers and use different ways of thinking.
I have a routine everyday and don’t do anything differently. This helps me think outside the box.
Most of my day is just learning about things I already know, This is different because it forces me to think for myself.
This teaches us real life problem solving.
This made me dig in my mind and figure out something new. In other classes I just need to use straight up knowledge.
This is more fun and let’s me think about what I want to do instead of only having one answer.
It made me use my BIG brain to think more and to think of new ideas.
This made me think of alternate ways to accomplish a goal.