Monthly Archives: February 2015

Finding a Sense of Belonging: A Cross Curricular Theme


This bibliography was compiled as an attempt to build an overarching, cross-curricular theme for the grade seven-year that will allow for more in-depth learning experiences, and in turn, a deeper understanding of the concepts covered.

In grade the seven science curriculum we set out to explore the needs of living things: air, water, food, shelter, and while it isn’t in the PLOs, or even the science textbook, I also like to introduce the idea of an additional basic need of human beings: the need to feel a part of something, simply put, to have a sense of belonging. We carry this theme into social studies as we examine ancient civilizations while exploring how the people of those times found their sense of belonging.  We connect this discussion to our own lives and discuss the ways in which we as individuals, and as a group find our own sense of belonging.  At this age students are becoming increasingly aware of the constant thread of voices telling them who to be, what to do and how to behave, therefore this theme is very relatable to students as they search for ways to belong while constructing their own identities.

We further connect this concept by integrating story telling through picture books, classroom read-alouds, and small group novel studies. Students explore the theme through large and small group conversations as well as individual activities.  I typically start be introducing several picture books on the theme, before moving onto a class read along of Lois Lowry’s The Giver.   As the conversation deepens and students become more comfortable and fluent in discussing and comparing their lives, and the lives of characters past and present they will then be placed into smaller groups based on novel selection where they get together in weekly meetings to discuss how the characters in their stories search for and find their sense of belonging and how that compares to their own lives, as well as characters who we have previously been introduced.  Throughout this process new picture books are brought in to provide alternative perspectives and deeper understanding of the theme as well as opportunities to discuss with members outside of their novel study cohort.

Throughout each of these books is the underlying theme that follows a lost or unique individual who struggles, but eventually finds their way and in the process a sense of belonging. This particular grouping of  books represent the varied reading and comprehension levels found within a typical grade seven classroom.

Through examining the lives of others in a year-long cross-curricular approach my goal is that the students will become more confident with the people they are as individuals, and more accepting of others who may be different from themselves.  By having longstanding, mindful conversations around the topic of identity, and belonging I believe my students become more empathetic and active members of society.  Using literature to bridge these connections is what makes this theme have more value as it provides multiple lenses for students to truly understand that although our paths are often different, we all share the same desire to belong.

Brisson, P., & Shine, A. (1998). The Summer My Father Was Ten. Honesdale, Pa.: Boyds Mills Press.

Chapman, A. (2006). B.C. Science Probe 7. Toronto: Thomson/Nelson.

Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press.

Colombo, N. (2010). So Close. Toronto: Tundra Books.
Fox, M., & Lofts, P. (1989). Koala Lou. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Korman, G. (2007). Schooled. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Lionni, L. (1975). A Color of His Own. New York: Pantheon Books.

Long, L, & Madonna. (2003). Mr. Peabody’s Apples. New York: Callaway.
Lowry, L. (1993). The Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Mikaelsen, Ben.(2001). Touching Spirit Bear. New York: Harper Collins.

Palacio, R. (2012). Wonder. New York: Alfred Knopf.

 Riordan, R. (2005). The Lightning Thief. New York: Miramax Books/Hyperion Books for Children.

Sachar, L. (1998). Holes. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Say, A. (1993). Grandfather’s journey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Selznick, B. (2007). The invention of Hugo Cabret: A novel in words and pictures. New York: Scholastic Press.

Spinelli, J. (2002). Stargirl. New York: Alfred Knopf.


Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac Magee: A novel. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Wojtowicz, J., & Adams, S. (2005). The Boy Who Grew Flowers. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books.