Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Making a Wish Come True

Students from my class finally finished a project one month in the making. We have been studying social issues in our reading workshop. One part is to see problems happen to more than one individual. Another part is to apply their reading to their lives by asking questions like, "How does this make me think differently?"

We read Sadako and the Thousand Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. This story captivates the life of Sadako Sasaki, who had leukemia due to the radiation from the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Her friend had given her a good luck charm, a gold crane. There is a legend that states if you fold 1,000 cranes, you will be granted a wish. Sadako gave her best effort to fold 1,000 cranes. She has able to fold over 600 on her own. After a great battle, she died at the age of 12. Her classmates finished the remaining cranes in her honor.

My students decided to start on a project to give someone an opportunity to make a wish. We brainstormed different people in the community and challenges they faced. One of our favorite intervention teachers, Mrs. S., a teacher who comes to help the class in small groups, has a husband who has been in the hospital since January 2008. She is one of the most patient women that I know. Each day, she loving takes care of her husband by visiting in his various care facilities or taking care of him at their home. Our little community decided to make 1,000 cranes for her family.

Students did the math, and they realized that they had to fold at around 50 cranes each. I taught them how to fold cranes. There were a few that definitely had personality. I think the most important thing is that they were made with love.

We finally reached our goal after four weeks of folding cranes. After the first day, I made them fold the cranes for homework. Some students got their after-school programs involved and taught other students how to fold the cranes. Others had their parents and family members help them. As we were counting the cranes and stringing them together, one student stated, "Ms. M, we reached out goal!"

The students presented the cranes by writing letters and how they were inspired for the idea by reading a book. This experience has made me realize how we are impacted by what we read. If we do not get involved or are changed by our experiences, then we cannot grow. I also realized how I need to also be aware of my community.

Ms. S. was surprised and a little teary eyed. The students made their presentations the Friday before Mother's Day. She also told us that her husband was able to come home from the hospital and spend the weekend with the family.

Perhaps our wish for her came true. It was our little effort to make a difference. I am proud of them.


Amanda said...

Em! So good to hear from you again via blog! This is a beautiful story. Way to inspire those kids. I'm pretty sure this is the best thing that literature can do--inspire readers to think more, do more, and be more. Thanks for sharing!

David Grover said...

You're so awesome! I'ma fold 1000 paper cranes someday too.

Kelly O. said...

You are amazing. And so is your class. Thanks for posting. And I LOVE your new blog picture!!!

emm said...

Thanks for reading this! I guess I need to write more than just annually. Thanks for all of the support.
Amanda, I wish I had you in my class to teach my kids a thing or two about literature. :)
David- let me know if you need any help folding cranes
Kelly- you always know how to make a girl feel good. i heart YOU.

saltbox girl said...

Yay for a post. What a sweet story. Your students will never forget Miss Mitarai and her amazing class/lessons. Lucky kids!

Martha said...

Em, how exciting to see a blog post! What a neat story. You are doing such amazing things. Are you coming anytime soon? I'd love to see you.

Megan Zurcher said...

I loved your story. You don't post often, but when you do, you have interesting things to say. Are you still in New York? What are your plans? Will you stay there?

The Beck Family said...

Em! I saw your picture on the seriously so blessed blog and had to find you! Send me an email if you want, I'd love to talk...larsandrebekah@hotmail.com

Bekah Steenblik

tiare said...

you sure know how to make a girl cry! you're an inspirational teacher. it's not an easy task to motivate kids. good job.
...and yes you DO need to write more than once a year!! ha ha ha!
i need to know what's going on in your life!!!!!
love you.