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

Another Year Gone By

It almost seems unreal that school is over. It seems like just a few weeks ago that it was August and my students were entering my classroom for the first time. We have accomplished so much this year! I told my students back on that first day that fourth grade would be the hardest, most challenging year of their lives. For the first four years of school, their main goal was to learn the answer to “what” questions. Then comes fourth grade, when we start to ask the deeper questions of “how” and “why” (as well as “what,” “when,” and “where,” of course). We talked about metacognition and the idea of learning how we learn so that we can learn without anyone telling us what to learn.

We read this year. My goodness, did we read! Stories in our basal reader, read alouds, reading groups, nonfiction books for social studies and science, our own writing, our classmates’ writing, the writing of other students in the building… The list goes on! As a school community, we set a goal to read 1,000,000 minutes this year. Not only did we exceed our goal, but we have received very positive attention, including from the marketing people with Scholastic Books Fairs! (Wow!) My class contributed a total of 296,801 of those minutes! Double wow!

We researched. The students learned about the lifestyles, habitats, and life cycles of different animals. They became masters of the European explorers who expanded the world’s view of itself, and they taught one another about the American colonies. We learned about electricity, magnetism, weather, the water cycle, force, and motion. We discussed Illinois history and had an incredibly successful field trip to our state’s capital, where were visited the Illinois State Museum, the Illinois State Capitol, and the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office.

We mastered multidigit arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division! We learned all of the multiplication facts from 0-12 and explored the relationships that exist among the different operations. We studied geometry, measurement, and data analysis. We learned fractions and remembered that, when adding or subtracting fractions with like denominators, the denominator does not change! We learned equivalency, comparison, and ordering. We explored greatest common factors, least common multiples, and the ways we can use both concepts when working with fractions. We also learned decimal notation.

We played. We had recesses and P.E. and had opportunities to run around, develop our locomotor skills, and learn to have fun while staying safe, respectful, and responsible. The students beat the teachers in kickball for the first time in three years! We developed our cognitive skills through games that challenged our thinking and spatial reasoning.

We grew. As a class and as individuals, my fourth graders reminded me that they come into fourth grade as young children and leave older, wiser, and more prepared. We learned to ignore people who annoy us, to recognise that the world around us is a place that is as diverse as it is big. We learned to welcome new friends and say farewell to old ones. We got a glimpse of the future as we watched the fifth graders participate in KAM:WAM and the musical. We set goals, reached goals, and set new goals. We stretched ourselves and learned that we could do much more than we thought.

It has been a great year! It has had its share of frustrations and setbacks, but as I look back, I choose to focus on the positive. I am sure that I will see some of my now-former students around this summer. I will be teaching a class on building bridges as part of our district’s STEM Enrichment Camp. I’ll also be attending several conferences and workshops: The Chancellor’s Academy with the University of Illinois, the Lake Guardian research cruise on Lake Ontario with the New York and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grants, and the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. But I’ll be around town, too. If you see me, please say hello and let me know what you are reading!

Have a fantastic summer! Come back and visit my blog periodically. I’ll be updating over the summer to share what I’ve been reading and what I’ve been doing to further my own professional development. I would love to know what you are doing, too!


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