Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Remarkable Friendship

The first week of school I chose to read Owen & Mzee: The True Story of A Remarkable Friendship to my class. The book tells of an orphaned baby hippo who befriends Mzee, a 130 year old tortoise. It's a heartwarming story and I thought the theme of the unusual friendship was appropriate for my new third graders.

I put a lot of emphasis on friendships during September. The first few days of school can be difficult as students learn new routines and rules surrounded by unfamiliar faces. So we spend a lot of time learning names and building a sense of community. We share objects that are special to us and begin to learn a little about everyone in the class.  I love getting to know each individual student--learning who loves his rock collection and who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up. I know who is left handed and who is tri-lingual.  I know who loves math and who hates writing... (Not for long, I hope!) I know who, despite his head-to-toe Redskins gear, is actually a Dallas fan. We play games to see what we all have in common.  We practice shaking hands with eye contact and listening to one another. I hope these activities help to foster new friendships that will grow stronger throughout our year together.

After reading the story, we talk about it together.  My mind is so focused on the theme of friendship that the first question takes me by surprise. 

"How long do giant tortoises usually live?"

Then there were more--

"How long do hippos usually stay with their mother?"
"What do hippos eat?"
"Is Mzee still alive today?"

It is the first week of school and I'm already in love with my entire class. I love their inquisitive spirit.  I love their thoughtful hypotheses.  I love their true caring nature and concern for Owen.  I love that they remind me to look at a book from a different perspective.  I quickly switch gears and together we create a list of facts we've learned and questions we have. 

We begin as 29 people with different backgrounds, interests and strengths. We'll share our stories and knowledge, ask questions and sometimes make mistakes. Together we will grow into a community of learners and friends.  I think this is the beginning of a remarkable year.

Giant tortoises can live over 200 years and Mzee is still alive today. Hippos are herbivores and their diet consists mainly of grass and some water plants.  Baby hippos usually stay with their mothers until they're around five months old.

1 comment:

  1. Other than the realization that you're up and writing BEFORE 5 AM!!, I love this and love your attitude! you WILL have a great year.