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

Using Our Voices for Good

Today was my first last full day of school for my first class. It was not quite the emotional roller coaster of a day that I thought it would be, actually. In fact, it was a lot like many other days, albeit minus the direct instruction on core content. There was instruction, but I don’t think any of my students would have recognised it as such. It was subtle instruction, but it was there.

The students went to the library this morning and then we got together with our book buddies one last time so the boys and girls could exchange photo gifts they had made. The second grade teacher I’ve been collaborating with took photos of all the buddies, got them printed, and brought them in for the students to decorate for their buddies. It was fun to watch what my class did and watch them get together with their young friends one last time.

I had my class do one final silent read or write in class. While they read, I organised the room, figured out how many books I had and how many were missing, and allowed a variety of students to help with some small tasks throughout the classroom. And I made plans for what our last hour as a class would look like. But that’s for tomorrow.

After silent reading for about 30 minutes, the students began the process of cleaning out their desks, returning my books and supplies, and packing up their things. I wanted them to be done before lunch so that we could get the activity/celebration I had planned for the afternoon. It took a little bit longer than planned, but everyone got everything cleaned up and packed up before lunch.

Our afternoon was spent thinking about the ways we use our voices. I introduced the activity by asking my students to stretch their minds all the way back to the beginning of the year, when we started working on our fourth grade collaborative unit on Dr. Seuss. (If you haven’t heard about this, you can read about it here, here, and here. I specifically asked them if they could remember what I had said were my top three favourite Dr. Seuss stories. Some of the students in the class weren’t even with us at the beginning of the year, but that didn’t stop them from making guesses based on what they knew about me! It took the class a few tries, but they were able to figure them out: Oh, the Places You’ll GoThe Lorax, and Horton Hears a Who. I then asked them to think about what they remembered from the stories about the main ideas and the implicit details to see if they could determine what those three stories have in common. Someone in the class suggested it is that all three stories were about making a difference.

Indeed they are! I told my students that, if they remember nothing else from fourth grade, I want them to remember that every single person has a voice, and that voice can be used for good or bad. That they can choose to use their voices to make the world a better place or not. That they can make a difference in the world now, today, and every day. I pointed out that there are quite a few people in the world who say that young people cannot make a difference, but I don’t believe. Each person has a voice, and that voice has power. And a person’s a person, no matter how small.

With that, we started our afternoon activity. We watched Horton Hears a Who. This took us through the remainder of the afternoon. The students enjoyed it, and I hope that they remember the lesson of the story. It is a lesson that we have been teaching all year, and it is a lesson that will continue throughout their lives. I truly believe that young people can accomplish great things if only they put their minds to it. To quote a line from a considerably different story, if we “teach every child to raise his voice then then, my brothers, then, will justice be demanded by ten million righteous men!” Our voices are heard; what are we using them for?

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One response

  1. Pingback: Filling the Compliment Jar «

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