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

Back to the Grindstone

Today was our first day back after the two-week winter break. However, I only had 18 of my 27 students in class today. I had received emails from a couple of parents letting me know that their kids would not be back for various reasons, and the others, apparently, forgot to call or forgot that school was starting up again. I will note here that I checked the school calendar about 20 times over the break to make sure that I was, in fact, supposed to be back today. I also had a few colleagues note that they had forgotten about the return to work until they caught numerous posts on Facebook about it. So I am not at all surprised that several students and their parents forgot, too.

Because I was missing a third of the class, though, I had to adjust the plans for the day, since anything new taught today would have to be taught again tomorrow. We started the day with a showcase of several of the items I had received for Christmas for use in the room, including a wooden block puzzle, three versions of the ever-popular BrainQuest series, and a book of brainteasers. I also showed them the nutcracker my dad gave me that looks a lot like me, and a few other items I got that are not-for-students.

After having the students read silently for 30 minutes, they worked on a writing project that involved writing about what they did over the break and then finding pictures from the various Concierge magazines that my wife (through the company she works for) donated to illustrate the quite essays with collages.  The students had a lot of fun doing this, and it got them back in the mode of writing and thinking and doing all of those things that are oh-so-very-important to being in school.

I didn’t want to cover any new material in math with so many students missing, but I did take time to do some reviewing. I started by sharing the incredibly difficult math problem that I got from a friend of mine. It is a theoretical physics problem that has an answer, but nobody knows what it is. (At least, this was true five years ago when he first shared it with me. I don’t know if it this is still the case, but I assume it is. I should probably check with him and verify this.) It is, of course, mathematics that is far beyond what any of my fourth graders are capable of, but that was kind of the point. I want them to think about what they may be able to do in the future if they master what they are doing now. This is a regular theme in my classroom, and I wrapped it up by explaining that the person who solves this problem will probably win a Nobel Prize, and I would be delighted to know that, someday in the future, one of my students was the recipient! Then we did some basic multiplication review before breaking for lunch.

The afternoon was spent on projects, including the morning’s project, the European explorers project that we really need to wrap up, and the letters to pen pals that, for some reason, several of my students had not finished. The students kept busy, had fun, and then they were off to art before we wrapped up our day. We will finish the explorers project tomorrow, and then we will finally be ready to publish our book! So, after two weeks of vacation, it is right back into the swing of things! I haven’t started a countdown to the ISAT yet, but it is definitely there at the back of my mind. But before that is the countdown to my 29th birthday–just 24 more days!

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