Nowadays, in a fast changing world, it is not easy to teach students how to be empathetic, how to be sympathetic, how to be kind, to be tolerant, to be optimistic, to be courageous, etc. TV shows, cartoons, computer games and Internet websites and the social media are strongly influencing students’ behavior. But we teachers, as thinkers and caring individuals, strive hard to find the best way how to inculcate moral values so our students make a difference in line with IB PYP goals to prepare students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them.
Today’s education should not be focusing only on increasing knowledge of students and developing their skills but to prepare them for a fulfilling life in the future. Life demands more than knowledge and skills.
So, what is our school doing to prepare the students to become active, caring and lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them?
Aside from the transdisciplinary themes with central ideas and lines of inquiries that are wonderfully planned, the teachers also found out one of the best ways to inculcate moral values and that includes the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes through reading books. Books are the best tools to teach the students with moral values. There are scenarios that can help them realize that they need to put everything into perspective – others are not lucky enough – they have nothing to eat, live in a difficult and abusive life, no shelter to live in, no parents to guide them, no friends to play with, no toys to play, no cars to ride on, etc.
Four novels are specially chosen for grade 3 students to read. They are Charlotte’s Web, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Justin Case and Nancy Drew.
These novels are ingrained with fundamental values – for every child to discover and enjoy.
These novels are carefully chosen to help launch meaningful discussions with the students. They work best as subtle discussion starters (rather than direct ‘lecturing’ on the learner profile and PYP attitudes) – to make the value system stick, students need to come up with the conclusion themselves. So, teachers make sure to follow–up a read aloud with some open–ended questions. They include books because they believe that reading books is the best way to encourage the students to make a difference, take action whether small or big, create a positive change in the world they live in, and also for academic success.
My students started reading Charlotte’s Web, and they were able to apply what they have learned in our first two units of inquiry, which focused on rights and responsibilities and animal adaptation – which each child who has a pet should be responsible to give love and care because animals have rights too. All my students said that they are against animal cruelty, that each animal has the right to live – I laughed at this. But others were asking- how about the animals that we eat? Is that also animal cruelty? Students had long discussions and arguments about this issue. They gave out their best reasons and persuaded others that it is animal cruelty or not.
After reading Charlotte’s Web, we watched the movie version. Students came up with the conclusion that the book was a story of friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte – that a true friend is going to risk his/her life for one’s own good. After watching the movie, students were asked who among their classmates was their best friend. They wrote a letter to their best friend and stated why their friendship is true and to be kept. After giving the letter to their best friend, students were asked to reply to each other’s letter. While giving the response letter, they sang a song about friendship.
|You’re My Best friend
Many people say true friends are hard to find
But I know I’m not that kind
They come and go and sometimes leave us behind
Like a wind that passes by
(Cause)When you need a friend
That you can depend
You can count on me because you’re my best friend
When you’re feeling down and your heart is hurt
You can call on me and
I’ll be there for you friend
Good things may come and then bad things may go
Like a birth a long time ago
You’re like the ship that’s sailing across the sea
To the waves that’s so unkind
(Repeat Chorus) Hold
The second novel that they read was ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.’ Before they started reading, we had some learning engagements. Students filled in a prediction chart, watched videos and looked at pictures about what happened during World War 2 and the aftermath of the explosion in Hiroshima. Then they answered the four question on a Y-Chart: what did you see, what did you hear, what did you feel and what do you worry about – to give them background of what really happened during the war. Most of the students wrote that they were really scared and sad at the same time. They wondered how the people back then survived the explosion and how they rebuilt their lives after the war. Most of them were also worried that another war may happen though other parts of the world are having conflicts.
The students filled in the Y – Chart after watching videos and looking at the pictures of the aftermath of World War 2.
Our Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes center
Reading the novel, students were able to describe Sadako using the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes. Students pointed out that Sadako learned to stay positive and courageous despite having been inflicted with a debilitating disease. Students also learned that they have to be determined, never give up and always hope that everything will be alright in God’s will. They learned how to empathize with Sadako’s struggles.
The third novel that students read was Justin Case. They were very excited to start our activities and find out the things that happened to the main character because it is a story of a boy who worries a lot. The boy is a worrywart and most of the students were able to relate to him. The students were asked to describe Justin as well as the other characters in the story using the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes. Since Justin likes to describe his teacher and writes down his experiences in school, they were also asked to describe their teacher (others wrote poems about their teachers) and penned down their experience on their first day of school.
Students, together with their parents, are reading their first day of school experiences and their descriptions of their teachers just like what Justin usually does.
The last but not least novel was Nancy Drew. Most of the students loved the novel because it is suspense-filled and is about solving dangerous mysteries. Students loved it because one should be a risk-taker and thinker to find clues and be knowledgeable to be able to solve the crime or mystery.
It is really essential to inculcate in the students the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes, and one way to do this is through reading. Through reading, students learn important life lessons. Having a respectable behavior is a must at a very young age. This can help the students make a difference, be open-minded and tolerant about differences in beliefs, cultures, traditions, etc. If students around the world are open–minded and tolerant, our world will be in safe hands and world peace will just be around the corner.
By: Freitz Gerald Talavera
Grade 3 Classroom Teacher
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug