Different? -Learning From Wilbur- The Naked Mole Rat

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SWBAT use the plot of a picture book to discuss the classroom norm of its O.K. to be different.

Big Idea

Use the story elements of "Wilbur the Naked Mole Rat" as an interactive read-aloud to create classroom norms

My Lens

My student teacher, Anna, needed to film herself doing a lesson to demonstrate classroom management.  After a few suggestions, she settled on an interactive read aloud. I showed her some of my favorite picture books and possible ways to angle the discussion through the creation of a teaching point. 


Interactive Read Aloud

15 minutes

Ms. Anna did a great job reading the book to the students.  She does a mean English accent- which really brought the voice of Grandpah- the oldest, and most regal of all mole rats alive.  The kids loved it.

Before the lesson, she took the book home and read it.  Next she planned her interactive read aloud and decided where she would stop and and ask the students to turn and talk.  I think she included 3 turn and talks.  It is a short book- so she didn't need more than that.  If you stop too frequently, it distracts from the story.

The turn and talks facilitated deep comprehension of the characters, the problem in the book, and the solution.  Next, Ana skillfully lifted the book's theme of "It's O.K. to be different" and asked questions to plant a seed in the kids' minds about is it really O.K. to be different? Being 4th and 5th graders, the seed has just been planted...and is sprouting.  

She concluded with focusing on the fact that Wilbur was helped by Grandpah's reaction to his wanting to wear clothes.  In the book, Grandpah said, "Why Not?  Does wearing clothes hurt anybody?" 

She then led a class discussion on who can you turn to in school if you have a problem?  At first kids were saying talk to a teacher, or another adult, and then the smallest boy in our class said, "Students can help each other feel welcome!"

As Ana was leading the discussion, I captured their ideas on the Anchor Chart paper.  

Class Pledge

As I type up this lesson, I am realizing the power in this lesson.  Also, I realize that I could get a lot of mileage by revisiting the ideas and seeds that were planted through this lesson. I noticed at the bottom of the chart I wrote the word pledge.  I remember a student suggested that we as a class community of learners create a pledge.  Ana, is now just in our classroom on Fridays until December.  The next Friday that she is back we will revisit Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, our classroom chart, and the pledge idea.  Tensions are running a bit high between some of the students- so it is very timely to ask students to think about how we want to treat each other.  I will pair this book with another one to deepen the theme of its ok to be different and everyone deserves respect.  

We have had several instances with my students being disrespectful to Homeless people.  During P.E. all students have the opportunity to learn to ride a bike.  Our P. E. teacher has written a grant and 30 or so bikes are delivered to our school for about 2-3 weeks.  Many of the students at Roxhill have not learned to ride a bike because of urban areas the students live in and parents working long hours. Because of this, many kids are not allowed to be outside- this leads to lots of latchkey kids.

Anyway, my students have been learning to ride their bikes around a soccer field adjacent to the school.  It is a large area flanked on the north by a wooded bog area.  One day three homeless people jumped out of the bushes and started interacting with the kids.  It took the PE teacher a few minutes to get to that area and intervene.  Apparently, disrespect was shown by my students to the homeless people.  We had a 30 min classroom meeting about it-the next time they had PE and it was not pouring (remember this is Seattle), a homeless person was asleep in the baseball dugout on the edge of the play field and 4 students started throwing pinecones at him.  All, in all, the students need to hear the story "Fly Away Home" by Eve Bunting.  This will give them insight on what it means to be homeless and everyone deserves respect.