The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.
We do a lot of reading in fourth grade.
I mean, a lot of reading. All day, every day, in every subject, we are reading.
As a result, I am constantly trying to find ways to make reading more accessible for all of my students. I love reading, I love sharing reading, but I know that I have some students who don’t love it quite as much as I do, and I am constantly thinking about what I can do to help them change their thoughts on the subject.
One of the things that is on my mind is helping students break the barrier of their own preconceived notions of what reading is and what it is not. This is something we, as a staff in my building, have tried to emphasise as part of our million minutes of reading goal. Reading isn’t just looking at and understanding words on a page. Reading isn’t just something you do with books or magazines or even newspapers. Reading doesn’t even actually involve words. There are a multitude of wordless picture books on the market, and all of them offer opportunities to read without text.
Reading can also be done through audiobooks. I don’t think you can count watching a movie or a television show as reading, but I do think that listening to someone else read counts. It is this thought that has been particularly weighing on my mind over the past couple of weeks. There are several students in fourth grade who have excellent comprehension skills but, for various and sundry reasons that I don’t care to get into here, they struggle with reading a text on a page. And it isn’t just at my grade level that we see this.
One of the suggestions that has come up in conversations with other teachers has been investing in a Nook or a Kindle to use in the classroom. (A teacher friend in California has been using Kindles in his high school classrooms with a great deal of success.) There is, of course, also the option of investing in an iPad, but those are considerable more expensive and do more than I am thinking about. (An iPad for my use in the classroom would be awesome. But for making reading more accessible, I’d rather stick with an eReader.)
In the meantime, I have a few portable CD players in my classroom and I am in the process of acquiring headphones for each student (thank you, dollar stores!) so I can get books on CD for students to listen to as they read the text. In the end, my biggest goal is simply to get my students to read more and to enjoy reading more. It is a lofty goal, I know, but I firmly believe that a person who can read, and read well, can do anything!
After grading the assessment on triangles I gave last week, I realised I needed to spend a little more time on the classification of these three-sided, three-pointed figures. At the same time, I don’t want to spend too much time on this concept. Ultimately, it comes down to a desire to balance the Illinois Learning Standards, which we are currently under, the Common Core State Standards, which will be officially adopted at the start of the 2013-2014 school year, all while also trying to be cognizant of what is on the progress report for the current year.
As it is, the Illinois Learning Standards have this to say about triangles: By late elementary, students will be able to “identify, draw, and label lines, line segments, rays, parallel lines, intersecting lines, perpendicular lines, acute angles, obtuse angles, right angles, and acute, obtuse, right, scalene, isosceles, and equilateral triangles.”
The Common Core State Standards, on the other hand, have this to say: Fourth grade students will be able to “classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles.”
And finally, our current fourth grade report card says this: “Draw and identify lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles.”
Triangles are not specifically listed in the single geometry standard we have on our progress report, but the idea of “classify[ing] shapes by properties” definitely includes identifying triangles as acute, obtuse, right, scalene, isosceles, or equilateral. I have enough students who still struggle with classifying triangles that I wanted to give them some more instruction on the matter, not just to have them reach the standards we currently have, but also so they are prepared for next year, where they will be expected to classify two-dimensional shapes by specific traits.
All of this goes through my mind as I develop my math lessons, plan for instruction, review student work, and adjust my plans accordingly. And all of this was why I decided to spend one more day on triangles with my students. We looked at several different triangles as a class and then I gave a quick assessment so I could gauge if there had been progress made. Having determined that a satisfactory number of students have made progress toward this standard, we are going to move on to other math review tomorrow. What we do Wednesday will be largely determined by what the students do tomorrow, and what we do Thursday will be determined by the work completed on Wednesday. And then we will be on our Winter Break! Just three more days!