What does it mean to be a good friend? This was the big question we pondered in division 2 today.
After some initial thinking time to capture first thoughts, I read aloud, “Little Beaver and the Echo”—a story about a lonely beaver who calls out in sadness that he has no friends. When he hears a voice across the lake also call back the same lament, he goes in search of that other lonely soul. The voice turns out to be his own echo—but along his journey to discover his own voice, he meets a duck, turtle and otter who agree to be his friends. The students discussed the story’s message as being about the need to go out with courage and make your own friends. We also reflected on the value of befriending yourself (your own little echo) because self-kindness matters, but also because this practice may make you more ready to show kindness to others.
Then students engaged in a philosophical discussion about our central question, which we audio-recorded. This documentation process (1.) helps us focus on quietly listening to whomever the speaker was, (2.) captures the rapid flow of big ideas for deeper analysis later in the day as a pre-writing prompt, (3.) showcases our learning process for our families, and (4.) boosts students’ confidence by proving that their ideas have value and impact.
The students worked together to do their own mind map of their big ideas, and I modelled making a mind map as a summary of their dialogue points. I do this to honour their contributions in a visual form to make them easier to work with later and to show them the vast wisdom that can accrue from even just a short discussion.
After some students went to Strings class and others collaboratively built a marble run, did art, or played chess, there was Music class, then lunch and a return to Language Arts learning. We had a lesson in editing paragraphs with Ms. Holman, and then students began planning a new well structured paragraph to capture their reflections on friendship.
*Fun fact: The fact that today our story’s protagonist was a beaver is significant because we are now in our Social Studies unit on the fur trade—and it’s nice to consider this great animal in new contexts!