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Class is in Session: We Are All Special

Updated on August 26, 2012
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” ~~~Judy Garland
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” ~~~Judy Garland

The World is Your Oyster

In a world where everyone is desperately trying to survive amid the backdrop of an economic crisis, bipartisan angst and global unrest, we must remember that just being the best we can be individually is our best way of being. Being unique is a beautiful thing.

One of my favorite child literacy authors is a man named, Peter Reynolds (artist and author). Two of his books in particular summon up some noble ideas to cogitate on, not only for children but for adults as well.

The two books I will refer to in this lesson are the following:

· The Dot

· The North Star

The Dot


This selection is about a young student named, Vashti, who had some challenges in art class. She couldn’t seem to draw anything; she felt inept and unqualified to create anything. Luckily, she had a teacher who asked only that she place some kind of mark on the paper and to see where that mark would take her.

Vashti responded by jabbing the paper and in essence, making her mark of originality on the page (a dot). The teacher had her sign it, she then showcased it. This inspired Vashti to expand her horizons by experimenting with color and designs of dots. Above and beyond that, Vashti went on to help a young man make his mark and gain confidence as well.

On many occasions as a teacher of both children and adults, I found that institutionalized education had drained our native abilities to be creative because education is all about conformity and regimentation. And, when you deplete the human psyche from being able to draw upon the uniqueness of its being, you produce a populace of generic robots. We then lose rather than preserve the Michelangelos, the Serrats, the Michael Jordans, the William Shakespeares, the Howie Mandels, and so on.

That said; let’s move on with a lesson. Literacy strategies come from 50 Literacy Strategies by Gail E. Thompkins

  1. Have students enjoy an interactive read-aloud with the educator.
  2. Then perform, hot seat, another literacy strategy where the students learn more about the character through assuming the role of the character (one person). The rest of the class gets to ask questions about the character while the person in the hot seat helps to answer the questions posed and asks others to summarize ideas as well.
  3. Once the students have thoughtfully hashed out the story, they can begin to endeavor on a more artistic level. How will they make their own “Dot?”
  4. The teacher should place books from other artists around the room, particularly including Serrat because as a pointalist, his work aligns with the flavor of the story. The idea is to have them generate some kind of marking that is unique to them---it can be anything, even a symbol. How about using an App??? Or your body to form a physical image?
  5. The culmination of the piece, have this creative play lead to another reading on another day using Peter Reynold’s other book, The North Star.
  6. You might opt to have a student reader or do Popcorn reading and pass the book.


The essence of this book is all about asking yourself, “Where do you want to go?” Life is all about the journey, not just the destination. Maybe you are encountering change or trying something for the very first time, the road less traveled. In any event, this story begs us to slow down, stop and smell the roses, be more reflective, inspire within you a dream and follow your own North Star.

So, from here, you review this story and then have them put it altogether. You can use a KWL chart format, a great literacy strategy (place one at the front of the room and have them place post-its on the chart, coming up and sharing their ideas), but let’s tweak it a bit.

What You Know (K)

What You Wish For (W)

What You Learned (L)

What You Will Do With That Info (D)

How Will You Inspire Others (I)

Have them sit in brainstorming groups and share their markings and ideas. Have them inspire their teammates to greatness. Then have them generate a piece that speaks to their own uniqueness and how they will follow their own North Star. Since I am a poet at heart, I would allow the freedom of expression, but knowing the constraints on curriculum, this can be executed as a full writing assignment or as a poetry session. The idea is to have them connect to the reading, become more creative and have that lead to textual expression.

Let’s look at the standards being used:

ELA:Reading and Writing

MST: If using symbols (math a math wiz wants a numerical connection?)

Science: Maybe they are mixing up colors?

Technology: Always invite Apps. In (drawing, post-its, etc)

Career and Development: What will your path be?

Languages Other than English: Have students use languages that are native integrated into the work.

Phys-Ed: Have students bodily do a form (kinesthetic dot)

Art: Review of artworks

Social Studies: The study of unique artists of all kinds

The mantra for today: Be the best you can be. You are unique and beautiful and let no one try and change that!

Peter Reynolds

Are You Embracing Your Uniqueness?

Are you embracing your unique self?

See results


Submit a Comment

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    Beata Stasak Thank you dear colleague. It means a lot to me.

  • Beata Stasak profile image

    Beata Stasak 

    6 years ago from Western Australia

    Praise you, a fellow teacher for your great and useful hub, well done and all the best:)

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    vocalcoach: Thanks for taking the time to read this set of lessons. Thanks for the beautiful sentiments as well. I always tried to make the learning project-based (so it was student centered) and diverse enough to capture all my learners (minds and hearts). Thank you for your vote.

    pstraubie48: Thanks for taking the time to read my hub of lessons. Teachers must take under his/her wings all students. When you spend time in a classroom for a term, a semester or even a day, you become a community of learners (teacher included) and this union is akin to a family. You reside in one room together. More importantly, you must love what you do or it will be transparent and your lessons will not garner the attention (engagement) of those you seek to help.

    I am glad you are inspired to get the books--excellent. I love his books. In fact, I have to read his newest one. Again, thanks.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    6 years ago from sunny Florida

    To love all people is a singular trait of a truly remarkable teacher. Children of all ages brings so much to the table a lot that is unexpected and unwelcome. But the teacher with a heart, with insight looks beyond those issues and enables, encourages the child to become.

    I have not read either of these books but as I am going out today to town I will look for both of them. I am so glad I read this. Voted up and pinned.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    A successful, encouraging and supportive teacher should above all love people...especially children. Each student is unique and deserves to know that they are. You represent a rare breed of teachers and I praise you for your own uniqueness. A brilliant hub. Every parent and teacher would benefit from reading this. Voted up and across (not funny) and will share.

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    ripplemaker, thanks for stopping by and for creating the link to vote.

    Teaching style as you know is as unique as the individual themselves. More importantly, you need to have a passion for the profession you have chosen to undertake. That leads you to seek information about topics and how each can be delivered in an enjoyable way---should this be your calling.

    Don't sell preschool short because it is the first introduction children have to formalized education and socialization. All the lessons linked to movement and play are critical pieces and in the best of circumstances, should continue. We learn to move and move to learn, my mantra.

    Thanks for your vote of confidence; it means a lot to me.

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 

    6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    Teachers have such a special role in the lives of people. They can either inspire, spark the imagination or want their kids to confirm and accept without questioning. We try our best in our preschool to do the first but sometimes it depends on the teacher who is mostly in the classroom. Thus, we have to commit to train the teacher so they can expand their context. Great hub! :)

    Congratulations on your Hubnggets nomination. This way to read and vote please

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    Hi KDubarry03-Thanks for the read and the lengthy consideration. I am glad it ignited something in you. A side bar, physical activity is important. In order for the brain to work, the body must move--we learn to move and move to learn. The biggest thing you hit on is engagement, motivation and teacher as facilitator not orator. And, we all learn differently and can each make a difference.

    Also, we learn more when we build it together. Thanks again.

    Shruti-Thanks for your vote and I am glad you enjoyed it. That it lifted your spirits, I am thrilled. Though these are pieces of children's literature, as an adult you'd enjoy this author too--never too old for these books.

    And,btw this piece is up for a hubnugget so if anyone can, please cast a vote. Thanks!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    You are very welcome, Robin.

  • shruti sheshadri profile image

    shruti sheshadri 

    6 years ago from Bangalore, India

    Beautiful robin. yes, all of us are so unique! The sooner we realize it and embrace ourselves , the better our life is! so true!

    brilliant topic, lifted my spirits up as soon as i read it, because i realized how unique i am! That is the power of your writing.thank you so much :)

    voted up, and shared :)

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I embraced my uniqueness when I was 16 and, ever since then, I've been growing as a learned man, a knowledgeable one, and a friend to many. For many, I believe, when they think they're just one in the crowd, they don't grow as much. Embracing who you are and knowing what your goals are will take them to their "north star", as you say. With education helping that, I agree with 50 Caliber: education is going downward because (1) education is not that strict (2) all the recreation activities anyone in anyone can do and (3) students do not feel engaged. I think it's highly important for the student and the teacher to be on a very close level (I.e. teacher is not above student and vise versa) so the student can feel comfortable to learn and apply their own way to learn and discover more so of their uniqueness.

    Thanks for a thought provoking Hub, Robin!

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    Vincent, I think for a lot of us, we ended up blossoming later on in life, me included (at graduate level).

    Education is all about conformity and you see, creative spirits are the polar opposite and resist conformity. That is why I have always chosen to draw upon the arts in order to motivate students. If a student is cajoled into the learning, they'll stay awhile, make the necessary connections and unite the learning with joy.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    Thanks for the read, glad it lit a spark and wow, what a saga it brought.

    As for showing a mean person "their" ways by showing them up, well, it only uses "their" methodology and brings you down to "their" level. However, if it made you feel good inside, good for you. And good for you that you were so smart and passed easily. excellent that you peer tutored that other student. Theory has it that kids are better at imparting info to one another than anyone else is. Be proud!

    Thanks for your service to this country and for protecting our freedoms abroad.

    As for the above lesson, yes, I tried my best to deliver on interest and content---they can be wedded. Caveat though, time isn't a commodity that schools can always afford due to all the testing.

    And lastly, cannot always go by spell checking on the PC because homonyms (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) aren't corrected.


  • 50 Caliber profile image

    50 Caliber 

    6 years ago from Arizona

    Interesting I think or education system has gone in a downward spiral. I wasn't challenged, got bored and after goofing off so long still acing the tests, I was blamed for the others not doing likewise do to my antics. Thank God it was before the days of zombie drugs used on kids with an active mind and drive. I had a few teachers challenge me and I rose to their challenge with glee, it wasn't view as "why do I have to do this and no-one else does?" It was , "I get to go there before any one else does." I got opportunity to teach a young woman of 18 ready to graduate but was unable to do math. They sent her all the way back to grade school to learn what she missed.

    I was allowed to skip an hour of gym class every day to sit with her and work on math with her one on one and got her through the hurdle she needed in a state that at one time had the 3rd best educational system in the US. It was pass the 3 R's long before the law was instituted. She flew through with an above average score, she taught me I was too smart to hang around for the next 4 years and I tested out in what should have been my 9th grade year with a GED test and finished it in one day instead of the two allotted for the exam.

    The proctor urged me to go set back down and go over everything to be sure I did it right, I asked him."do you mean, colored the dots in right?, or second guess what I know?". That flustered the old man and he said "See you next week, when you try again". The grades were posted on the door by score, top on down, I thought that was wrong, it should have been alphabetical giving the ones who passed by one point anonymity of sorts in the list of 35 people, after all there 1 point win got them the same piece of paper that my score did being 3rd on the list. The fails turned out in part the next week, same room same test, same proctor, I made it a point to go back and set front row to be seen, and when asked why, I remarked,"you said, that I should be here this week". Like the kid I was and in part still am, I showed up to see his face and rub it in that he's not as good a soothsayer as he thought he was. He showed me the door and stepped out and said, "you won nothing, they will draft you and kill, you first in line are the drop outs, don't you know?" I smiled and told him, "I had plans to enlist and my draft number may be called but by then I'll be on my way, or already there, it's tradition you know?"

    Back to topic, I enjoyed this read very much because it lit my pilot light and got me burning as to the failure our educational system has become. You set some good examples of things that might be done to help improve that situation in our world there are many complainers but few solutionist (I made that word up, says my spell check) to find new and better ways to teach those willing to learn.

    I voted this up across the board.

    Peace and Blessings,


  • profile image

    Vincent Moore 

    6 years ago

    I knew I was special when my Mentor found me, I felt like the chosen one. For going to day school for me was a struggle, I would not learn, I would not listen to my teachers. I caused problems in the classroom. Now I know it was due to the struggles I faced every day at home with the mental abuse. It wasn't until I met my Mentor and he suggested I attend night school that I found myself.

    You see, attending a class in HS where there were adults from ages of 20 to 60 yrs old in the class struggling to get their HS Diploma made me feel needed to be amongst these adults. The Education system finally meant something to me and I had a thirst for knowledge and I gained it those 4 years of night school. I went on to college and doors opened up for me. I was truly blessed.

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    Thank you Integrity.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I voted up for sure. Way to go, Robin!

  • RobinGrosswirth23 profile imageAUTHOR

    Robin Grosswirth 

    6 years ago from New York

    Some people want to beat (physically and psychologically) the uniqueness out of an individual. We are all different, with different talents and that is how great teams are formed.

    However, schools are all about conformity and being filed under a particular number or placed in a certain track---too bad.

    In any event, thank you both (Cam and Billy) for reading this hub.

  • cam8510 profile image

    Chris Mills 

    6 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

    Across the curriculum. I love it.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    A tough lesson for kids to grasp and took this kid decades to get there. Now I embrace it every day; I am unique, there is no one like me nor has there been in the history of the world....and that is pretty cool.

    Loved the hub!


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