On Friday afternoon, Mr. Daniels announces a challenge. The class will split into three groups and each will receive a shoebox filled with a mystery object, and they must guess what the object is without opening the box. Everyone looks excited. Ally is put in a group with Jessica, Max, Oliver, and Suki. Ally considers asking to go to the nurse when she sees all of Jessica's friendship bracelets. Oliver grabs their box and shakes it. Max tries to take the box, and Suki surprisingly says that with the time limits they have, they each get two minutes with the box.
Wanting to go to the nurse after being reminded that she's alone shows just how damaging Ally's loneliness is. It makes her want to isolate herself even further, even despite the fact that the other kids in Ally's group are known to be kind. Suki's decision to speak shows that Mr. Daniels is giving her the confidence to use her voice and is helping her believe in herself.
Max shakes the box and says the object is heavy. Oliver shouts that it might be a kangaroo and Jessicagives him a disgusted look that makes him shrink. When Ally gets the box, she discovers that the object rolls. She suggests a baseball and surprisingly, Jessica agrees. However, Ally then discovers that the ball bounces. She asks Max if a baseball would bounce, and they amend their answer.
When Jessica sides with Ally but still gives Oliver the nasty look, it suggests that the social structure may be changing some—not necessarily for the better yet, since Jessica is still bullying Oliver. This shows that change is indeed possible, and it can be positive with more work.
The second box contains an item that slides, not rolls. Ally feels as though she can almost see it and is surprised when Oliver tells her she's good at this. She even forgets to be nervous, since she's performing just as well as her classmates. The third box seems like an oversized marker, and Mr. Daniels stays to observe Ally's group with the fourth box. Jessica compliments Max as he turns the box around, and Oliver guesses the box contains a quarter as though he wants nothing more than to be right. Jessica looks incensed as Oliver hands the box to Ally, saying that she's the best.
Discovering that she's good at this allows Ally to experience what it feels like to be "normal," as this is exercise is one that plays to her proclivity towards thinking in pictures. In this way, she is actually better at the exercise than some of her classmates because she thinks visually all the time, while for others, this exercise is likely very hard if they think only in words.
Mr. Daniels tries to get Ally's wandering attention and she explains that she sometimes forgets to talk. She rolls the box around and finally says that whatever's in the box only hits two sides. Ally shakes it some more and then asks if the object is taped or tied in the box. Mr. Daniels laughs and then says that no one has ever figured this box out. He opens it to reveal two glue sticks tied together, with the strings taped to two sides of the box. He gives Ally her first high-five from a teacher.
By praising Ally and showing her that she is capable of doing something right at school, Mr. Daniels begins to lay the groundwork for helping Ally feel successful. By doing this, he can help her learn to trust him as well as herself, as these exercises will give Ally valuable evidence that there are places where she can succeed.