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I don’t read picture books to my upper elementary students very often, but I’ve found a pair of books that hold their attention and teach some valuable lessons about friendship and the role of technology in our lives and friendships.
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I read the books Nerdy Birdy and Nerdy Birdy Tweets (by Aaron Reynolds and Matt Davies) to all of my classes in grades 3, 4, & 5. The books are humorous, but touch on themes of friendship and self esteem. Because the characters are so fun, relate-able AND funny, students have been jumping in with terrific insights!
As part of my quest to encourage my students to spread kindness, I decided to use these books as part of my digital citizenship unit.
I read Nerdy Birdy first, as an introduction to the characters. Before reading, I asked the students to think about the themes in the story. One theme is self esteem, along the lines of “Be yourself” or “It’s okay to be different.” After reading, I gave some time to discuss the themes in small groups, and then called on a few people to share out what they discussed. Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- “After all, there is always room for one more birdy.”
- “It is awfully lonely to be alone.”
- “Being cool is exhausting!”
Next I read Nerdy Birdy Tweets, asking them again to think about themes while they listen. With each class the response was consistent. At first, lots of laughter and comments – the kids really enjoyed this story too. Each time we came to the part when Nerdy Birdy posts an unflattering picture of Vulture on Tweetster, the room goes quiet. I believe students can really relate to this situation. Again, after reading this book, I asked the students to discuss the themes in small groups and then called on some to share what their insights. A couple of my favorite Nerdy Birdy Tweets quotes:
- “Just because you thought it, doesn’t mean you should tweet it.”
- “One real live you is worth a thousand Tweetster friends.”
I really wanted to make sure all students had an opportunity to reflect on the themes in this book. I asked them to respond in writing to the prompt, “Nerdy Birdy Tweets makes me think about…” This is a quick activity and I found that the majority of my students responded with a thoughtful comment. I’m hoping this experience helps them use responsible and considerate online behavior!
I created a bulletin board display in order to share the messages from these books with our school community. I included some quotes from the books and added the students comments. It’s an easy, eye-catching display and a great way for student voices to be heard on this subject. Lots of students, staff, and parents stopped by to read the responses.
If you would like to try this activity with your classes, download my free printable here!
How do you encourage your students to spread kindness? Do you have any favorite lessons for encouraging thoughtfulness while learning about digital citizenship? Share your ideas with us below!
Be well and have fun!