A new child in our classroom had commented randomly on her first day: "I really, really, want to learn all about humpback whales." This was in the middle of our unit about How We Express Ourselves and the central idea was "Time and Culture affect Stories." In this extremely narrative unit where fiction was the focus, I just could not see a viable entry into the factual world of humpback whales. However, I knew that our Sharing the Planet unit was coming up soon and I hoped that I could offer her an oceans inquiry group.
This was the very first week of the new unit. I was searching in the resource room for non-fiction readers when I came across a set called, "The Life of the Humpback Whale"! No kidding! It was the perfect reading level for her as well. As her guided reading group gathered into a circle for an introduction to non-fiction texts, she snuck a sideways grin up at me. "Miss Renee, did you think about me when you chose this book? Are we reading this because I said I wanted to learn about humpback whales?" It would have taken a lot the shake the grin of that one little girls face. She wasn't just the new girl anymore, she knew she belonged because she matters in her teachers' mind. Isn't relationship the foundation of all learning after all?