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

First Snow

It snowed last night, or maybe it was just early this morning. Whenever it came, it was the first snow of the year and so, of course, it became a topic of conversation among my fourth graders. And since it was a Friday, it was also a topic of conversation among the other fourth grade class, with whom we were combined for our Thinks You Think project. So we had fifty or so fourth graders all excited about the light dusting of snow that fell on our community and there was no way I was going to pretend that it wasn’t a big deal.

The Thinks You Think project has been focusing primarily on English/Language Arts skills, although we have thrown in a bit of math and social studies from time to time. This week, we focused on the idea of writing a change response prompt. This is when the students read a passage and then write a response discussing how a particular character had changed from the beginning of the story to the end. Not only is this a very useful way to process a story and think about the characters and plot, it also happens to be a feature of the ISAT exam’s reading response essay. And since the ISAT exams are in the beginning of March, we decided it’d be a good idea to get the class started on the ideas now. (Besides, such writing is also  part of their curriculum. So we have plenty of reasons to teach this.

So what does a change response prompt have to do with snow? Quite a bit, actually. I want the boys and girls in our classes to realise that the skills they use in one area can be transferred to another area. One such way was to have the students think about what the weather was like yesterday and then compare it to what the weather was like today. Then I gave them the change response prompt: How was the weather yesterday different from the weather today? After getting them started, my grade-level partner guided them through the actual writing of the response. In the midst of the writing, some of the students brought up the fact that it was windy yesterday. One of the girls in my class wanted to know if she was allowed to exaggerate when she wrote about the wind. My GLP said she could, and I ran off to the library to find a copy of one of my favourite examples of hyperbole: McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm by Sid Fleischman. Specifically, I grabbed it so I could share with the students the story of McBroom and the Big Wind. It is a fun story, and the students loved it! The library copy is now sitting on the whiteboard marker tray in my room so that they can read the other stories.

This afternoon was the last Read, Write, Think! period of the semester, since we won’t have time to do it next week. A few of the students took the opportunity to write a bit about the day. Here it is:

Today is Friday and we are having fun with Read, write, think. tomorrow is one of our classmate’s birthday, so she brought in doughnuts. I am pretty excited about this myself, but I am sure everyone else is excited also. This week has been especially long for me so I am excited. I am sure we are all hoping for a great holiday this year, let alone snow. The snow was a great excitement this morning, and I was greatly disapointed during recess when it melted. But though I am disapointed, I know that the snow melting made the weather warmer , and I also know that it will probably snow again this winter. Read, write, think is coming to an end, but I had fun!

I need to get some of the boys in on writing blog posts now. (So far, each of the guest posts has been written by girls.) But I guess that will have to wait until January. Only four more days of school with the students! Time is flying by! But before we start the last push of the year, I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend! Hope you have a great one!

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