Several weeks ago, I introduced a classroom management incentive program in my room. It consists of taking small glass pebbles and dropping them inside a vase. The class earns pebbles by meeting our five classroom expectations. They get one pebble for each expectation, with a possible sixth if our restroom & drink break is done in three minutes or less. When we first started doing this, I only awarded pebbles at the end of the day. But I switched to doing them twice a day based on a suggestion made during a recent new teacher mentoring program “chatshop” that was held by the district. I also got a smaller vase so that the students could see the results of their positive behaviour more rapidly. The prize for filling the vase was an extra 30-minute Read, Write, Think period.
Last Wednesday, we filled the small vase for the first time. Because it was filled at the end of the week, we did not get to have our extra RWT until this afternoon. However, even a four-day weekend filled with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pie, pie, and more pie did not make my students forget that they had earned this reward. So it was that this afternoon we had our first bonus RWT. I finally have several students interested in writing a blog post during Read, Write, Think, which is why we have this entry for today:
Today with the other 4th grade class, the other teacher discussed with us what will be happening over the next few weeks of school. We all actually learned something new, or new for most of us: 4th graders have a science test as part of the ISAT in March.
It was not too chaotic or hectic today, and we did earn our extra Read,Write, Think time. Mr. Valencic got some cool, new puzzles. They are metal and some students have referred to them as “brain teasers.”
Right now we are in the process of more Read, Write, Think, and it’s anything but tranquil. We’re about to go to a Coyote College assembly. The main point of these assemblies is usually respect, responsiblity, and safe learning. Many kids learn from these assemblies. They truly teach us alot. [Note: Link added by Mr. Valencic, who has resisted the urge to make too many editorial changes by including said link.]
Today we (the kids) will be getting more spelling. The words won’t be to hard if we study, so remember to do those spelling packets! The words might be a bit difficult, but they contribute to giving us a challenge.
Today in math we worked on more division, simple but hard at the same time problems. One example: 20÷5= ? .
I made a few minor editorial changes to the above, mostly related to spelling, punctuation, and capitalisation, but the content is entirely the product of two students with the occasional input of a third. The students in the class really like the brain teaser puzzles I have. There are three wooden block puzzles we’ve had since the beginning of the year and now four metal ones. Of the seven puzzles, three remain unsolved by any of my students: one wooden puzzle and two metal ones. I am hoping that each puzzle will be solved by the class by the end of the year! If they are all solved sooner, I will almost certainly acquire a few more. They are great activities for students to work on when they complete their in-class assignments. I also have a Rubik’s cube, several crossword puzzles, a three-dimensional apple jigsaw puzzle, and a surprisingly difficult nine-piece jigsaw puzzle. I need to get the students to start working on the apple puzzle. I am sure that if they work on it a bit each day it, too, will be solved eventually!
The following is a post written by two students in my class. This is the second in my currently-sporadic series of having students write a brief post at the end of the week. Theoretically, this will become a weekly series. The rules are simple: No names except for my own, nothing negative, and I have complete editorial power. However, I have limited the changes to major syntactic and grammatical conventions, as needed.
Here it is:
Today is the the last school day before Thanksgiving, and I believe we’re all looking forward to it. But I must say, I was surprised that we, being the dramatic class we are, didn’t express our excitement, although I am sure we all have some good plans.
I was quite excited myself, and I will admit I spent more time today looking at the clock than I ever have before. We spent most of the morning in the other fourth grade teacher’s class doing the Thinks You Think. The other fourth grade classroom looked as if Christmas were tomorrow, not Thanksgiving! When we got back, we silent read for fifteen minutes. Shortly after that, we learned about division, then lunch.
Currently it is close to the end of the day, and I can barely contain my excitement!
Written by two of Mr. Valencic’s awesome students!
The division work we did this morning focused on an introduction to why we cannot divide by zero. I used models on the board and actual students before transitioning to number sentences, but I know we will still have to spend some more time on the concept before the students fully understand. For the time being, though, I will be happy if they simply take my word for it!
So crazy to think that there are just fourteen more days of class in session before the Winter Break! Where, oh where, has the time gone?! We are going to have some pretty awesome integrated units as we move forward toward the break, and I hope the students continue to maintain focus and strive to give their very best each day leading up and including December 15.
I want to take a break from updating this weekend, so let me just say in closing that I am truly grateful for the 27 students who give me a reason to come to work each day! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the weekend! I will be spending time with family and friends, and I hope that each and every one of you have time to do the same thing!
It is standard practice among fourth grade classes in Illinois, and probably all of the United States, for students to be introduced to playing musical instruments by learning to play the recorder. I remember learning to play the recorder when I was in fourth grade, but I sadly remember very little, beyond having a concert at the end of the year. Somewhere in my parents’ house is a picture of me and my friend Adam, dressed in slacks, white shirts, and ties, proudly holding our trusty brown recorders before the concert. I have no idea if anyone thought to capture the concert on film, though.
Fast forward 19 years, when I am now teaching fourth grade. My students are now beginning to learn how to play the recorder. They are really excited to be playing these instruments. I stopped by the music room yesterday to see if I could capture an audio recording of their playing, but they were putting the instruments away and lining up when I arrived. So I came in the middle of music this afternoon and did it then. So even though the recording isn’t actually from Day One or learning the recorder, I think it is close enough.
I was going to share the file on here, but, apparently, I have to have a paid account to upload mp3 files from a computer. This makes me very sad, but I just don’t see a point in paying an annual fee for a blog that is primarily an outlet for me to reflect upon the positive things that happen in my classroom each day and then share those thoughts with the 30 or so people who seem to regularly read.
However, I can tell you that the audio recording is exactly what I imagine a wild rumpus would sound like. The recording device was not particularly great, so the sound is a bit mechanical, but it is clear that the performers are all beginners who are willing to play with gusto! It is quite fun walking down the hall as my students are doing their best to master this instrument. Other teachers and staff members in the building hear it and see me and just smile. For them, it is an annual event that they are used to; for me, this is my first class on their first day of their first instruments. The sounds coming from those instruments may not be the sweet melodies of a professional musician, but, you know what? It is still music, and it music being created by my kids! I wish I could share the recording with everyone; maybe I’ll figure out a way around it. For now, though, I’ll just have to be satisfied with having it stored on my computer and on my phone. Anyone who wants to hear it is welcome to stop by the classroom or catch me wherever I may be!
Have a great weekend!