Bryan Podell, English Teacher, Intrinsic Schools
Because of Winn-Dixie follows the story of Opal Buloni as she moves to a small town in Florida with her father, a preacher. Opal struggles as she longs for her friends and family back in her previous hometown. Opal meets Winn-Dixie, a stray dog who becomes her best friend. Opal’s friendship with Winn-Dixie helps her embrace the people in her new community and forge new friendships.
Because of Winn-Dixie introduces young readers to community themes. My young students ask questions such as: What kind of risk is involved when making new friends? Can I be myself around new friends? Where do I fit in? I found several CERCA Sets and Applied Lessons that help me teach these themes and discuss these questions with younger audiences.
The ThinkCERCA lessons help my young readers begin to answer: Who or what is my Winn-Dixie? As a way to wrap up the unit, my students discuss and write about who or what in their life that makes them feel comfortable and happy, encourages them through difficult times, cheers them up when they are sad, or helps them try new things. Young students can build on these discussions by creating a poster, building a slideshow, or introducing the class to the person (or item) that embodies their very own Winn-Dixie.