This challenge explores the ways in which students might help a child who is new to the classroom. To begin, invite students to think about their very first day at school. Guide them in talking about their feelings of uncertainty about how to do things and what was expected of them. Speculate about what it would be like to go to school where many things were much different and the student did not speak the same language as everyone else. If available, read a story about a newcomer to a class or to a country. Robert Munsch's book, From Far Away, tells the true story of a little girl who comes to Canada from Lebanon. A caution about this story is that it contains a scene where the nervous young girl "pees" on her teacher's lap and there are references to Halloween. Franklin's New Friend by Paulette Bourgeois could also be used to introduce students to welcoming newcomers in the neighbourhood or school. After reading the story, ask students to think about what it was like for the newcomer. Invite students to compare the character's experiences with their own experiences on their first day of school. With the class, discuss and list the newcomer's difficulties and suggest possible solutions for each problem.
Invite students to imagine that a new student has moved to their school. Choose one of the difficulties the person might encounter and ask the class to suggest possible ways to help with the problem. Discuss the criteria for a successful solution, including the following:
- the solution solves the problem
- it is something that children are able to do (realistic)
- it respects the person's feelings.
Ask students to draw a picture of the solution that would best solve the identified problem. You may want to adapt the charts and strategies for Considering Options (Support Material) and Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. Repeat this process for other kinds of problems and solutions that students might encounter. See Solving the Problem (Modelling the Tools) for detailed suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for thoughtful problem solving.
Adapted from I Can Make a Difference, edited by Mary Abbott, Roland Case and Jan Nicol (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002), 4556.