The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Pebbles and Brain Teasers

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!


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