Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom Middle School Edition: Grades 6-8: Lesson Plans and Students' Favorite Stories for Reading Comprehension, Writing Skills, Critical Thinking, Character Building

Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom Middle School Edition: Grades 6-8: Lesson Plans and Students' Favorite Stories for Reading Comprehension, Writing Skills, Critical Thinking, Character Building

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453274835
Publisher: Chicken Soup for the Soul
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Series: Chicken Soup for the Soul Series
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 418
Sales rank: 1,087,267
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Jack Canfield is cocreator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, which includes forty New York Times bestsellers, and coauthor of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. He is a leader in the field of personal transformation and peak performance and is currently CEO of the Canfield Training Group and Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Foundation for Self-Esteem. An internationally renowned corporate trainer and keynote speaker, he lives in Santa Barbara, California.
 Mark Victor Hansen is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.


Santa Barbara, California

Date of Birth:

August 19, 1944

Place of Birth:

Fort Worth, Texas


B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973

Read an Excerpt

Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom Middle School Edition Grades 6-8

Lesson Plans and Students' Favorite Stories for Reading Comprehension, Writing Skills, Critical Thinking, Character Building

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Anna Unkovich

Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-7483-5



How to Use This Book

Before You Begin

We can only hope that you fully understand the importance of being prepared before you start this Chicken Soup for the Soul journey.

Research indicates that when we learn something new, we will remember:

10 percent of what we read

20 percent of what we hear

30 percent of what we see

50 percent of what we see and hear

55 percent of what we see and take notes on

70 percent of what we discuss with others

80 percent of what we personally experience

85 percent of what we see, take notes on, and review within five hours

95 percent of what we teach others.

While Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are not exactly note-taking experiences, they are true stories that teach to our hearts, rather than solely to our heads. As we hear them, we relate to them, and they become personal experiences for us. We laugh with them, we cry with them, and most of the activities encourage us to discuss these new experiences with others.

These stories lead us through many life experiences vicariously, while under the guidance and supervision of a teacher. They provide character education at its best.

Because every story provides for some discussion, we refer you to many suggestions and guidelines entitled Circle Talks, found on page 319 in the Appendix.

Here are a few guidelines and reminders to set the tone for success:

* preview the story and plans

* whenever possible, read the story aloud to yourself first

* know the intended direction of questions and activities

* allow for spontaneity and shifting of direction for "teachable moments" (because when the mind is open, the heart will hear)

* have materials ready for any activities, and whenever possible have samples to show

* be sure that students are clear on any directions before they start an activity

* if possible, do a "walk-through" to assure understanding

* encourage students to participate with an open attitude

* allow time for students to process and reflect

* unless you are deliberately sending students out the door with their own thoughts following a story, provide some sense of closure for the group

* remember that it is your energy that sets the tone for the entire experience

Suggestions for Using Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom

We have three main goals for teachers using this program:

* to get students to enjoy reading

* to get students to express themselves in writing

* to empower students to make a difference in the world

For optimal success, we recommend the following:

1. Choose your story to match your lesson.

Although each Chicken Soup for the Soul story is motivating in some way, for maximum value it is best for it to be an integral part of your lesson plan.

2. Choose your story to match your audience.

Mild swear words may be acceptable for high school students or adults, but not so for elementary students. Can you "soften" them without changing the power of the story? Strong references to God or religion may be an important part of your life, but forbidden in most public schools. Do you leave out those references, modify them, or switch to another story? It is important to know your story before reading it aloud.

3. Select the placement of your story.

Will you start class with it? Do you plan to fit it into the middle of the lesson? Do you intend to use the follow-up activities? Have you allowed enough time? Is it your "out-the-door," thought-provoking message at the end of class for students to ponder, and perhaps journal about?

4. How long does it take to read it aloud?

Have you planned your time accordingly? It is not wise to be in the middle of your story when a bell is ringing signifying the end of class.

5. What type of follow-up will you do?

Will you use the questions provided or develop some of your own? If the questions will be used for classroom discussion, have you allowed enough time? Can you adjust plans easily to allow for a longer (or shorter) discussion than you anticipated? If the questions will be answered in writing or journal format, will this be done during class time? For homework? For credit? Will the writing become a part of your classroom routine? If student reading is your goal, do you have classroom quantities of Chicken Soup for the Soul books available? Will students be allowed to choose their own stories with corresponding follow-up activities?

6. What is your PURPOSE in using the story?

Is it for motivation? Inspiration? Is it part of a specific lesson (e.g., friendship, history of an era, attitude, civil rights, etc.)? Will it be used to establish classroom routine (e.g., the value of daily reading or writing)? Is it a time-filler at the end of the hour (oops, three minutes to spare)? Or, is it your desire to "change the world one story at a time?"

7. Every student needs to be "heard."

For this reason, discussion questions are best shared in dyads and/or Circle Talks before examining in a full-class interaction. There are numerous ways to randomly pair students in a non-threatening way to form dyads or small groups. We have included set-up directions for Circle Talks, (Appendix, page 319) and Creative Ways to Get into Groups (Appendix, page 344).

8. Practice reading stories aloud, at least once.

A poorly read story is like a joke with the wrong punch line—it will lose its potentially huge impact. A practice run will let you know which phrases to emphasize so you won't be surprised by any words or concepts, and the story will flow more smoothly.

These stories are not recommended for students to read aloud, unless practiced in advance. The power of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories lies in the message. There is an art to reading aloud, which most students have not yet mastered. However, they could be successfully used with drama or speech classes where the art of speaking aloud is rehearsed.

9. Are other teachers in your building using Chicken Soup for the Soul stories as a regular part of their teaching?

In elementary school, there is probably no problem with this. But whenever students rotate from teacher to teacher, they may be hearing the same stories frequently, and you may lose the impact of a powerful or surprising ending. If this is the case, you may wish to do some minor coordinating between staff for the maximum effect with your students.

10. The questions and activities are geared for students at a midrange level.

In most cases, they can easily be adjusted to higher or lower abilities and competencies. Always remember that you are the expert regarding your students and their capabilities. A plan that is labeled for the sixth grade may be perfect for your fifth graders and the issues they are facing. Or, it might work best for a particularly challenging group of ninth graders. The age levels indicated are merely guidelines to help you to select the stories and activities.

11. Not all stories are suitable for all students.

Some of the stories selected deal with very tough issues (e.g., divorce, discrimination, abuse, death, etc). A rural school in Michigan will have very different needs than an inner-city school in New York. We have included a variety of these sensitive topics in case you have the need to address them as a class. Teachers have a responsibility to use their good judgment in selecting appropriate stories for their students.

12. Activities have been designed that will touch several aspects of students' lives: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, mental, artistic.

We have found this "whole life" learning to stay with students longer and to empower them to make a difference in their homes, their schools, their communities, and the world. We refer to it as "teaching to the heart, rather than the head." And we encourage you to use this method regardless of the subjects that you teach. For more information on teaching to multiple intelligences, we suggest that you go on-line to any popular search engine and simply type in "multiple intelligences." We consider Thomas Armstrong and Howard Gardner to be the leading experts in this field.

13. Use these stories to trigger personal stories of your own.

Recall the childhood memories or turning points in your own life. Remember a friend who had a tough decision to make. Tell of a former student who made a difference in your school. Students need to know that you, as a teacher, are human, that you have had obstacles to overcome, painful experiences to endure, and joys to share. Learning to tell your own stories may be the most powerful aspect of using this program. We think you will be pleased with the strong student-teacher bonding that will occur with the use of stories in your classroom. We do suggest, however, that you use discretion in sharing too many personal details of your life with your students.

14. Finally, have fun!

Your attitude about reading and the use of stories is contagious. If you love a good story, so will your students. Your passion for stories will become their passion.

Do not underestimate the power of having a consistent reading diet of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, without always doing the lesson plans. Refer to the Short Shorts and the Just for Fun chapters for stories with a powerful impact, but no plans. We think you will find that the frequent use of story in the classroom can literally change the world, one student at a time, and one story at a time.

Designing the Plans, Using the Plans, and Adapting the Plans

As we sought to select the best stories from the thousands that were available to us, our main criterion was to find anecdotes that contained inspiring content and those that would potentially have a high impact on students of all ages. We wanted these stories to make a difference in students' lives, while dealing with a variety of topics. And, we wanted stories that would connect with anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, or socioeconomic background.

The plans are available for you to select and use to meet individual and classroom needs. One class may have a student dealing with the death of a parent. Another may have several students dealing with divorce and remarriage issues. One community may have gang or drug problems. Still another may have no concept of the needs of the homeless, and you might wish to bring this awareness to the classroom. For this reason, we have included a wide variety of stories from thirty of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Although there are plans included for most of the stories in this curriculum guide, we strongly recommend that you not make every story into a lesson plan. Sometimes, the most powerful lesson is to simply read the story and send students out the door with their own thoughts on the matter. The plans that are included here have been designed to enhance the message of the story. If, however, they become overused, students will begin to dread Chicken Soup time, rather than to experience the joyfulness of story and the make-a-difference aspect of the Chicken Soup for the Soul stories.

Finally, it is our intention that the stories in this document be read to the students by the teacher. We further recommend that you obtain a variety of Chicken Soup for the Soul books for your classroom, and set aside some time each day or each week for Silent Sustained Reading (SSR). Much research recommends that students silently read for twenty minutes immediately following lunch, to help to settle them back into "classroom mode." The reading level for most of these stories is at grades five or six, with content that captures the hearts of all ages and backgrounds.

Understanding the Format

Part One of this book has the introductory information regarding the background and suggested use of this book, its lesson plans, and its activities.

Part Two contains three main chapters of stories, lesson plans, and activities. The first of these has stories that are general in content and were selected for all age levels. While originally designed with three levels of plans, the volume that you hold contains only the middle school plans and activities.

Each story throughout the book is preceded by an information page listing:

* Title of the story

* Original book that printed the story

* Page number from the original book

* Amount of time necessary to read the story aloud

* Major theme of the story presented in bold print

* Related story topics indicated in standard print

* Appropriate age level for the story content and plans

* Short synopsis of the story

* Additional notes for the teacher

The second chapter in this section has stories that are suitable for all age levels, but contains a single, K-12 plan that can easily be adapted for any group or ability. This chapter may not look like typical middle school stories or lesson plans, but our test groups found them to be highly successful with students in these classrooms. Furthermore, those teachers found the wide range of activities to be especially valuable with the academically gifted or challenged, or with those students who seem to "march to a different drummer."

The third chapter is age-specific in its content and scope. These stories, plans, and activities have a special appeal to middle school students.

Part Three contains stories that have no lesson plans, but are included because of their powerful impact, humor, or inspiration. These chapters include Short Shorts, Just for Fun, Consider This, Teacher Motivation, Parent Inspiration, and Final Thoughts. Lesson plans could easily be attached to any of these stories, but we strongly recommend reading them for fun or inspiration.

Within each chapter, the stories are grouped by similar content or theme whenever possible. Suggested worksheets are located within the story sections, following the plans, and preceding the stories. Occasionally, teachers will be referred to the Appendix at the back of the book for additional information or more detailed plans.

NOTE:All worksheets and activities in this document that are borrowed from other sources are used with permission.

This compilation includes selections from many of the more than one hundred Chicken Soup for the Soul books that are available. For a complete listing of Chicken Soup for the Soul books, go to

It is just the beginning....

Some Research on Reading

With a plethora of research available, there are as many possible solutions as there are problems that center on reading in America. We could write an entire book on these findings, but have chosen to refer you to a few recommended experts for a limited review of research and opinions that specifically relate to this document (see Resources, page 385, for full citations). These sources were chosen for their highly respected reputations concerning education and the developing child, and for their ongoing contact with other brilliant minds in this field.

What is fairly common knowledge is that our children are not testing well on reading, and like many adults, they are not reading or are alliterate. Unlike the illiterate person who is unable to read, the alliterate person chooses not to read.

Let us present some key concepts and some possibilities for how this curriculum guide can offer a new kind of solution to this growing problem.

1. The invasion of technology.

Starting in infancy, we now have products and television shows designed to capture the attention of even our youngest learners. In a special report in Time magazine that appeared on January 16, 2006, it is suggested that these products do capture the eyes and ears of infants. But far more crucial to the child's development is a life filled with rich sensory experiences of human interactions. In fact, according to the article in Time, "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV viewing of any kind before age two."

In a 1998 interview, author Joseph Chilton Pearce reported a "20–25 percent reduction in sensory awareness of the technological child as opposed to the preliterate, or 'primitive' child in the grass shacks of the jungles ... and that kids' minds go catatonic in front of the 'tube.'"


Excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom Middle School Edition Grades 6-8 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Anna Unkovich. Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


A Note to Parents and Teachers,
How the Stories Were Chosen,
Introduction by Jack Canfield,
Introduction by Anna Unkovich,
Part One: How to Use This Book,
Before You Begin,
Suggestions for Using Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom,
Designing the Plans, Using the Plans, and Adapting the Plans,
Understanding the Format,
Some Research on Reading,
The Importance of Reading,
The Importance of Writing,
Chicken Soup Classroom Activities,
Using the Worksheets and the Appendix,
Home-Schooling Suggestions,
Dealing with Feelings,
Changing the World,
Part Two: The Stories and Lesson Plans,
Stories Selected for Three Levels of Lesson Plans,
Stories with One Multilevel Plan,
Favorite Middle School Stories,
Part Three: Additional Stories That Inspire and Motivate,
Short Shorts,
Just for Fun,
Consider This,
Teacher Motivation,
Parent Inspiration,
Final Thoughts,

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Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom Middle School Edition: Grades 6-8: Lesson Plans and Students' Favorite Stories for Reading Comprehension, W 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sample is to short