Our time is coming to an end!

What better way to end the year then with a timeline reflection – have your students reflect on the great school year! You can do this in so many different ways and for so many different reasons. Click on the attachment to read more about timelines!


Character Education & Religion

How is one able to incorporate Character Education & Religion?  How do we make our students more socially conscious?  At the bottom of this post, you will find a Language Arts lesson plan which incorporates the Catholic religion, Catholic Graduate expectations, and Character Education for Grade 7 students but can easily be adapted for younger and older grades.  Collaboration is the key! Hope you use it in your classroom.

Using Picture Books with Middle School Students: “How to Heal a Broken Wing” by Bob Graham

“In troubled times, when many of us are losing contact with the natural world, I wanted to show that there is  still hope in a coming generation of children who have curiosity and empathy with the world around them, and that care and attention can sometimes fix broken wings” (Bob Graham)

The premise of this picture book appears simple: a young boy is the only person among a busy crowd who cares that a bird has fallen with a broken wing.  Along with his parents, he takes the bird home to nurse it back to health and eventually returns it to its home.   Even though it may seem straight forward, “How to Heal a Broken Wing” is actually a very powerful story that can be used with children of all age levels (my 3 year old son loves this book!), but it is excellent to use with middle school/intermediate students.

I particularly love this picture book for a variety of reasons:

  • the page layout changes often (from full pages illustrations to a comic layout with 8 illustrations per page) so this adds visual interest and at times it feels like more of a graphic novel than a picture book
  • look carefully (and critically) at the illustrations…the box the bird is placed in carefully is lined with a newspaper with a giant tank on the front page and the family gently tends to the injured bird while the TV shows fighter jets flying over a city…very powerful images right there
  • the passage of time is shown through a calendar and the phases of the moon…it takes time to heal the broken bird and it does not happen quickly or overnight
  • it takes several attempts before the bird regains strength and shows healing
  • the bird is returned to his “home” in order to be set free…the family does not impede on the bird’s freedom
  • there really isn’t a lot of text, but the message is so clear, poignant and powerful that it actually makes it more meaningful because it is such a simple message
  • I love how the loose feather is a constant image throughout the book

I’ve included a one page question sheet the can be used with older students, but I plan to create more worksheets to go along with this excellent resource.  Just click on the image below!

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Associate link

Teaching Proverbs

When introducing proverbs to my students, I would start with a general discussion asking them to think about a major crisis, decision they had to make, or problem they had to deal with.

The following would be a few of the directing questions:

· Do you prefer facing those kinds of problems alone, or does it help to ask others for advice and direction?

· Who do you trust with some of your most difficult problems? Why?

· Do you try to follow their advice, or do you tend to ignore it?


I would then discuss with them the book of Proverbs and what they are, for example:

· The book of Proverbs is a collection of short statements that express truths about human behavior.

· The proverbs found in the Old Testament can be a source of inspiration, counsel, and direction to those who read and ponder their messages of wisdom.

· They are a collection of wise sayings, many of which were inspired by the Lord, which can help us with many problems.


I would then switch gears and present a modern day proverb and elicit some from my students (if they know any)

List of modern day proverbs: (just a few) (see worksheet page 1)

· Don’t count your chickens before they hatch (proverb)

· Birds of a feather flock together

· Keep it simple silly

· Actions speak louder than words

· Six in one hand, a half dozen in the other

· A chain is as strong as its weakest link

· A friend in need is a friend indeed

· A place for everything and everything in its place

· A rolling stone gathers no moss

I would then ask the following questions and have students respond in their notebooks:

  • What is a proverb?
  • What is the purpose of a proverb? What kinds of messages or lessons do the proverbs teach?
  • Where do you think proverbs come from?
  • Why do you think proverbs are easily remembered?

Then introduce the Book of Proverbs and read the first few lines highlighting Proverb 1:4

Discuss with students that proverbs utilize figurative language and making a connection to similes, and metaphors.

Define figurative language: Appealing to the imagination, figurative language provides new ways of looking at the world. It always makes use of a comparison between different things.

Strategy #1 (see worksheet page 2)

To deepen understanding & meaning, students could utilize a comic strip approach.

Students are to choose one proverb from the everyday list. In the first row below (of max 4 boxes) they are to depict the literal meaning of the phrase.

Then in the next row directly below, they are to depict an everyday situation in their life where this would apply (the figurative meaning) to demonstrate their understanding


Literal Depiction

Display their depictions and discuss as a group. This class discussion would generate ideas being shared and deepen meaning and reasoning skills.

Students are to then choose a proverb from the bible and communicate the meaning in their own words. They can utilize a drawing to help them express how this proverb can be useful in their life.

Strategy # 2

Play “Charades.” Write some of the everyday proverbs on a 3″ x 5~’ card. Give each child a card to pantomime for the group. Record the proverbs on the board and discuss meaning. Have students in groups of 3 choose a proverb from the bible and prepare a charades version of that one to act out in front of class.

Have students write in their notebooks what the meaning of the proverb they worked on means to them.

As a closing for both strategies have students respond to the original questions:

  • What is a proverb?
  • What is the purpose of a proverb? What kinds of messages or lessons do the proverbs teach?
  • Where do you think proverbs come from?
  • Why do you think proverbs are easily remembered?


In both of my strategies, students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a multiple format (creating comic strips, writing, communicating with discussion, movement). Furthermore, students are supported by working in groups. I would make sure to have balanced groupings. While discussing, I could stop and re-iterate the concept. When students are working on their own, they could have peer or teacher assistance.

The following worksheets can assist you in teaching about this topic: