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The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

Sixth grade students use digital notebooks to track their thinking.

When the school year started, I struggled with how to continue book clubs in our new, hybrid model of teaching. Paper was discouraged, we couldn’t read notebooks unless they were “isolated” for 3 days, students were sitting six feet apart, in rows, with masks, facing front…Everything felt different. Then I read The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.

Even though the book has nothing to do with living and teaching through a pandemic, its message inspired me. When life takes unexpected turns, it helps to focus on the things that will not change. Reading great books and discussing them with my students was something that could not change, so we figured it out.

  • We created digital notebooks for our students, so that stopping and jotting would not change.
  • We had book clubs share their digital notebooks, have google meets, and create jam boards and padlets, so their “book talk” would not change.
  • We found ways for students to sit six feet apart in the hallway on the blue squares, so face to face discussions about great literature would not change.

After six 6 months of not having in-person book clubs, I finally heard children’s voices again. I heard great discussions about character, setting, theme and author’s craft. I heard children giggling over the funny parts and I heard serious conversations about the challenging parts of their books. My heart was happy.

Charlotte, whose notebook I shared above, talked to me about the importance of The List of Things That Will Not Change, and expressed her thoughts beautifully.

The book The List of Things That Will Not Change, by Rebecca Stead, is in all honesty something that will change the way you look at the world. It doesn’t shield children from things that happen in the world, and doesn’t spoon-feed kids lies or half truths. It does, however, show things that are usually misunderstood or shown in a negative light,  in the positive light it ought to be shown in. It also doesn’t hide the fact that certain things are still disliked, but it shows that it is unjustified and wrong to hate these things. It also demonstrates a beautiful message, showing the youth of the world that homosexuality isn’t a disgusting disease, but a thing that should be respected by others. Black or white, straight or gay, man or woman, we are all people, who deserve respect.

Those are pretty inspiring words from a sixth grader. Bea, the main character in the book, kept a green spiral notebook that her parents gave her when they got divorced. They started a list of things that would not change after the divorce. The book inspired me to keep a list of things that will not change:

1. Great literature brings important topics into our classrooms and allows students to see themselves in the characters they read about.

Thank you Rebecca Stead for writing such an important, heartfelt story. We absolutely loved it!

Attached is a “template notebook” that I created using the Lucy Calkin’s anchor charts my students would normally use in their notebooks. Students choose the slides that fit their reading for the day, and work in book clubs to create slides for their reading notebooks.

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