Using Photographs and “Which One Doesn’t Belong” as a Provocation

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One of my favourite mathematical discussion starters is the book Which One Doesn’t Belong by Christopher Danielson. The premise behind WODB is that four objects are thoughtfully curated together, based on elements of potential similarity.  As students begin to tackle the question “which one doesn’t belong” it becomes evident that there is no one right answer. The focus of conversation moves away from closed ended, right or wrong answers and instead becomes anchored in open ended discussion using the characteristics of the objects as evidence to support your perspective. Traditionally WODB has been anchored in mathematical concepts (as seen here on this co-created teacher website) but I’ve become obsessed with idea of using WODB as a provocation in the ELA context.

Using the picture book “Whale in a Fishbowl”  by Troy Howell and Richard Jones as inspiration, I intentionally curated this WODB visual.  So here’s my question for you;

  Which photo doesn’t belong in the context of the others?



Did you say the house cat in the christmas tree? As it’s the only domestic animal? Or maybe you said that the Polar bear is the odd one out, because it’s the only animal in it’s natural habitat. But then what about that house cat, it sure looks like she’s in her “natural habitat”. . . Or perhaps you’d say the Geese don’t belong because they’re the only animal that has feathers? Or that the Tiger doesn’t belong, because it looks to be the only animal living in captivity?

What I love about WODB is that all these answers require evidence of support. It also invites further discussion and exploration of so many topics: habitat (natural and man made), human encroachment in nature, conservation, the characteristics and needs of animals.  All of these are major themes that resurface in the picture book “Whale in a Fishbowl” making which one doesn’t belong a great pre-reading provocation.  And, to inspire some post reading reflection, students could discuss which one photo is most closely connected to book.



One comment

  1. Love this idea and is an excellent example to remind and/or introduce older students and their teachers how picture books are for everyone. Thanks for sharing. I am going adapt this for a social justice unit using picture books with a grade 7/8 class.

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