Who’s Made a Difference in Your Life?

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Kathryn Otoshi wrote a wonderful book simply titled One.  I first heard about it from one of my colleagues during a regional counselor’s meeting.  After joining Pinterest, I came across this book again, and I decided I would add it to my growing list of books to buy for my school counseling program. Though there were dozens of “pins” about this book, I was fortunate to find a link to the blog Entirely Elementary School Counseling  which had a wonderful lesson to use with the book.  Although this is a picture book, the counselor used this book with her 5th graders to close out the school year.  This was a perfect idea for me to use with my students.  I have used the Steps to Respect curriculum with my 5th graders throughout the school year which addresses bullying in several of the lessons.  Our last Steps to Respect lesson was about bystanders and what they should do when they find themselves in that position.  We talked about reporting versus tattling too.  We discussed why it is important to let an adult know when they witness bullying along with when it is safe to stand up for someone.

As our final classroom guidance lesson, I shared this wonderful book with my 5th grade friends and adapted the lesson plan format I found on the blog.  My fifth grade friends are so cool and “grown up,” but even they enjoy sitting on the floor around a storyteller to hear and look at pictures in a picture book. I shared this lesson five times, and you could hear a pin drop at least 98% of the time.  It really got them thinking, and they made appropriate connections to the story during our discussion after I finished reading.  In the first class, the students shared about the one person who has made a difference in their lives.  Additionally, I showed this great video from YouTube in order to give a visual of the story for the students.  It features the author, Kathryn Otoshi.  When the video ended, I gave each student a 3 1/2 x5 index card.  I asked them to write about how they would be the one to make a difference. Not surprisingly, the discussions about the one person who has made a difference in their lives resonated with me.  So, when I visited the rest of the fifth graders, I asked those classes to write about that one person on their cards instead.  As I walked around and silently read each of their cards, I was thrilled to see how much thought they were putting into what they were writing.  Many wrote about a parent and  a few mentioned current or former teachers. My name showed up as well.  I was really touched by many of the students’ words about the things their parents and teachers have done for them. While they worked, I took pictures of them in groups of three so I could crop the face of each student and add it to the index card for the hallway display. Once I cropped all of the their faces to make individual pictures, I printed thumbnails of each photo.  This was the perfect size for the index cards.  I did a brief description of the display and printed a copy of the cover of the book to display with it.

I decided to make copies of the cards where students wrote about former teachers in order to present them to those teachers.  As much as their words moved me, I knew those teachers would appreciate knowing they made a difference in the life of a student.  Needless to say, happy tears were shed by a couple of them. It was wonderful to see their reactions.

Is it just me, or do you feel a little misty when sharing this book?  I mean… I kept it together, but I had to really focus to do it. What are your thoughts on this wonderful book?  I’d love to hear about any lessons you’ve done with it.  Connect with me!

ETA- April 14, 2013:  I created this sheet to use this year with my students and wanted to share it with you all as well.  It’s simple, but gives the students a chance to reflect on who’s made a difference in their lives as well as how they can make a difference in the lives of others.  Click on the picture to print a copy. (Font by: An Apple A Day in First Grade)

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