Growing In Character
Valley Park Middle School
Once a week for thirteen weeks students are handed a copy of ‘Seedfolks’ at the beginning of advisory, homeroom, or another class. Students and teacher read a new chapter about another character who enters the garden and in their own very special way makes it a better place. Thirteen different people from all different walks of life enter the urban garden and share something very special as the summer brings growth and prosperity to the garden. As students are reading, the teacher asks probing questions about numerous character education traits exposed in the story. The following day each team of teachers uses an activity they developed to reinforce the chapter they read the previous day.
Students and staff will develop an understanding about how people from different cultures can come together to not only exist, but to work together to create something beautiful. Students and staff will also learn how the human race can overcome what seem to be insurmountable obstacles to work for common good.
- How people can be too quick to judge those of other cultures without actually knowing the person.
- People of different cultures do things according to their culture or the way it was "back home." We all have different "cultures."
- Reading skill - examining characters very closely, compare and contrast.
- Geography - location of the countries each character was from and a few facts about it.
Classroom sets of Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman or at least one book per class (depending on the school character education or reading budget).
Set aside 20 minutes one day and 20 minutes the next day each week for 13 weeks. Prior to each activity period, have a student or faculty member do a pre-reading exercise over the intercom that stimulates thought regarding the upcoming chapter to be read. The announcement sparks interest in the upcoming reading before teachers hand out the books to students. Students and teacher read one chapter and then do a follow up activity the next day to insure comprehension.
Use observation and follow-up conversations to determine if objectives have been met.
Extensions and Adaptations
If the reading of the book is done in the spring, a group of students could begin planning and planting their own garden along with the help of school personnel.
Related Links and Resources
SEEDFOLKS, Paul Fleischman
Tad Savage, principal of Valley Park Middle School, a 2008 National School of Character, wrote this lesson.