When Ms. Atkinson and I developed the second year of the Swooper Citizens curriculum over the summer, we had no idea how perfectly the themes would tie into Mr. Surber’s Book Club idea. The Book Club meets for the first time on Wednesday to discuss Grit. Our Swooper Citizens theme of the week is Determination. These character traits complement each other nicely!

We started the lesson on determination by asking students to describe a time when they tried to do something that felt too hard at first. What did they do? What happened next? Students described trying to master a certain sports skill. Most said they kept trying and then the skill got easier.

To further demonstrate what it means to show determination, we shared this amazing video clip:

Now that is determination.

Next I read aloud Sally Jean, Bicycle Queen, by Cari Best.


Sally Jean was born to ride. And her bicycle, Flash, is just about her best friend. But one day something terrible – and wonderful – happens. Sally Jean grows. Suddenly she finds herself too big for Flash. What’s a Bicycle Queen to do? Finally, by collecting old bicycle parts to make a new bike – and giving Flash to a young friend who longs for a bigger bike of his own – she rides again!

With exuberant art that’s just the right match for Sally Jean’s new found freedom, this joyous text celebrates growing up, learning new skills, and giving back to the community.

This was the perfect piece of literature to demonstrate determination. Sally wants a new bike so badly that she works to buy a new bike, and when she still can’t afford a new one, she collects parts from old bikes and makes herself a new one! Go Sally!

Now students needed a chance to show determination. They partnered up and tried and tried to follow this fancy footwork:

Yikes! Challenging!

So we gave it a try.

After hard work and determination…