November 16, 2001
I am a first grade teacher from Quebec, Canada. Last year, I found out about the Flat Stanley Project, through a popular teacher web site called “Teacher’s Helping Teachers”. I accepted to host a Flat Stanley in my class from Kansas. I had no idea who Flat Stanley was, and what I was suppose to do with him. When I received this flat paper person, my students found him very interesting. I had no idea how enthusiastic my class would become about Flat Stanley, let alone the entire school.
Last year, my class was very unique and “challenging”. It was a very large class, with several students who had learning disabilities. Many students were non-readers and non-writers. Some even had difficulty spelling their own names. Behaviour was always an issue outside of the classroom. They wanted to learn how to read and write, but it was difficult to keep them both motivated and positive in class. Their parents were just as frustrated as they were. Many families were experiencing both financial and personal difficulties, that they became overwhelmed with their children’s problems in school.
The Flat Stanley Project helped change this negative atmosphere into a more positive one and conducive to learning. Once we hosted our first Flat Stanley last November (2000), my students wanted to learn more about him. We decided to have our own Flat Stanley Project.
I decided to read the book to my students, knowing that it might be too difficult for them to read individually. My students didn’t want me to stop reading the book. They wanted to hear more. They were so attentive, and most of all, they were excited about reading! It only took two days to read the entire book. Then our Flat Stanley Project really took off! We made Flat Stanley paper dolls, and Flat paper versions of themselves. We became known as the “FLAT” class at Crestview. We wrote flat adventures, drew flat pictures, flew flat kites, and took digital pictures about all of this excitement. My class had Flat Stanley Fever! Interesting learning experiences were happening everywhere.
Despite all of this enthusiasm, we had a difficult time trying to find money to pay for our postage to mail our Flat Stanley’s around the world. My school was not in a financial position to cover the costs of mailing our Flat Stanley’s. My class came up with the idea of having a ‘Flat Stanley Day’ in our school. So, that’s just what we did! We asked all of the students in the school to bring a book for the Flat Stanley Project in Brazil. In return, the students did not have to wear their dress code for the day. We also had a bake sale to raise money for the postage expenses of our Flat Stanley’s and special package to Brazil. All of the classes in our school got involved. They read the Flat Stanley novel, wrote Flat Stanley adventures, drew Flat Stanley pictures, and measured Flat Stanley from ‘head to toe’!
I still can’t believe how successful that day was. We had 410 students in our school last year, and we collected 563 books on that single day! My class bake sale raised $172.00. It was truly amazing to see how the students, parents and my fellow colleagues at Crestview Elementary School came together for this special project.
My class was finally able to mail our Flat Stanley letters and special package of books to Brazil. We also organized a Buck-A-Book sale with the remainder of books we received from the Flat Stanley Day. We raised $500.00 for our school playground. My principal, Mrs. Effie Maniatis, was proud of my class’ contribution to both our school and community. The students in my class we so excited, because the principal finally came to our classroom bearing good news.
We created a Flat Stanley bulletin board near the front office. Each time we received a Flat Stanley back, we shared the contents of the envelope with the rest of the school. Many other students, parents and colleagues were fascinated with our Flat Stanley’s adventures in Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, and everywhere in the U.S.A and Canada. My students were finally regarded as the ‘lucky’ class in the school, because we got all of this special mail from our friends around the world.
Towards the end of the year, my students were reading and writing. This was such an accomplishment for both my students and myself. We worked very hard. Some of my students even participated in our ‘School For Success’ program on Saturdays. Could you imagine giving up your cartoon day, in order to practice your reading and writing? I’m so proud of my former class. The Flat Stanley project gave my students the inspiration they needed to stay motivated in school, and enjoy learning.
I think that this was not only a learning experience for my students, but for myself as well. I have made so many friendships with people around the world, too! We share ideas, lesson plans, and those “cute” teacher stories we all have of our students. I recently gave a workshop on Cooperative Learning, and shared “our” special project with other colleagues in my school board.
Thank you so much, Dale!
Grade One Teacher
Crestview Elementary School
Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (Quebec, Canada)