The Day Before the End
Today was the day before the last day of the semester. Winter Break officially starts at 3 pm on Thursday afternoon for students. (I have a teacher record day on Friday and have to report to work for a brief meeting and then will spend the day working with my fabulous fourth grade teaching partner to coordinate schedules, as much as possible, for next semester.) The day before the end of a semester always seems to be more difficult than the actual last day.
Students are tired and ready for a break. Teachers are tired and ready for a break. When it is the Winter Break, the weather is finally starting to get winter-y and that seems to bring people down. People all over are getting sick and coughing their germs all over everyone and everything. It is incredible difficult to find the motivation to push on through to the end.
But push on through to the end we do and will! I think this is a habit I picked up from my high school calculus teacher. I remember him admonishing us to take advantage of every moment we had to study and learn, all in preparation for the almighty Calculus AP test we would be taking at the end of the year. We watched films like Stand and Deliver to motivate us, we came together as a class and had study sessions on Friday nights, and we always had work to do over long breaks to keep our minds active and focused on the task at hand: learning.
I want my students to do the same thing. There will be plenty of time to celebrate the end of the first half of the year tomorrow when we actually reach the end of the first half of the year. But today was not the end. Today was the penultimate day, and I made sure we kept on working.
We started the day wrapping up our social studies unit on United States geography. After giving a pre-test on the fifty states, having the students label the states on a blank outline map, we spent the next two weeks learning about the four major regions of the nation: the Midwest (where we live), the Northeast (where we will be studying in our next major social studies unit), the South (the coastal states of which we will also be studying in our next unit), and, last of all, the West, which we focused on today. For each region, the students were given a blank outline map that they had to complete and then they had to find at least five interesting facts about each region. They are going to take a post-test tomorrow. My hope is that they will be able to correctly identify most, if not all, of the fifty states this time around.
I also did some pre-assessing for our big multiplication unit that we are starting in January. Since I plan on revising the scope and sequence of our curriculum for the rest of the year, I wanted to get a feel for where we need to start. Many of the students can multiply greater numbers by a one-digit number, but fewer knew how to multiply by two-digit numbers. This was to be expected, but I wanted to confirm it.
The afternoon was spent following our regular literacy block, as I read some more of Anne of Green Gables to my class, guided them in a writing prompt expressing their opinions of different works of art, and then worked with a guided reading group while the rest of the class did silent reading. We wrapped up our day by celebrating a birthday and then cleaned up the room.
I feel like today was incredibly productive, which was my goal. We probably could have had less wasted time, but it could have been a lot worse, too. I once heard someone say that the best indicator of a good day at school is when the teacher and students go home completely exhausted. Based on this standard, today was definitely a great day!
This entry was posted on December 19, 2012 by Alex T. Valencic. It was filed under Fourth Grade and was tagged with Fears, Floccinaucinihilipilification, Fourth Grade, High School, Language Arts, Mathematics, Philosophy, Reading, Social Studies, Teachers' Secrets, Writing.