What is your whale?

I am so excited to post another great teaching idea from a general education teacher who is soooooo very dedicated to supporting all of the diverse learners in her classroom. This amazing educator gave me permission to share a lesson she designed with her student teacher.

The lesson is based on Pedro’s Whale, a book I wrote with my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Patrick Schwarz. First, the students read the book, which is a story about a little boy who uses a whale toy to learn, make friends and deal with challenges. Then, they all identified their own “whale”, an object or interest that they sometimes used for comfort, inspiration or connection. Finally, every student developed one strategy that he or she could use to deal with bullying and build a stronger classroom community. Once each student had created these two products, the teachers added them to a gorgeous classroom bulletin board.

The best part is that the teacher used the bulletin board as a sort of backdrop during parent-teacher conferences so she could talk to families about the conversations of support and connection that had been happening in her classroom.

Whale Bulletin Board

Could not love this idea (or this teacher) more! Thank you for sharing it, Ms. N!

Pedro's Whale by Paula Kluth

Pedro’s Whale

Based on the real-life event that inspired Paula Kluth and Patrick Schwarz’s bestselling “Just Give Him the Whale!,” this simple but powerful story introduces educators to one of the best, most effective inclusion strategies: using students’ fascinations to help them learn.

Pedro, a young boy who loves whales more than anything, is heartbroken when he’s told to put away his favorite toy whale on the first day of school. But then Pedro’s teacher discovers the secret to helping him do his best work: not only giving him his whale, but also incorporating his special interest into the whole curriculum. Soon, Pedro’s whale is helping all the children learn, as the teacher works whales into math lessons, storytime, simple science experiments, and more! Pedro’s whale helps him make friends, too, as the other children start to share his special interest.

Everyone who reads Pedro’s Whale will remember its eye-opening message: when you work with instead of against what students love, they feel safe, happy, and ready to learn. Used in tandem with “Just Give Him the Whale!,” this enlightening story will help teachers maximize inclusion and ensure that students with and without disabilities reach their full potential.