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

A Day for Celebrations

We had two very different, very unrelated celebrations in my classroom today. The first was for just our class and it was for filling our compliment jar with pebbles; the second was for the whole school plus parents and was for recognising the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Civil Rights Movement. Both celebrations went very well and made for a wonderful way to wrap up our week!

The compliment jar is a small vase I keep on my desk. I drop in glass pebbles in the jar each time the class receives a compliment from another teacher in the building. As added incentives, they can earn two pebbles when the compliment comes from a substitute teacher, five pebbles for the principal’s compliments, and ten pebbles if an administrator from our Central Office is in the building and acknowledges something positive the students are doing. (This hasn’t happened yet, but I am hoping it will happen at least once by the end of the year!)

It took us all of the first semester and a couple of weeks into this term before the jar was completely filled. Because of scheduling issues, the celebration wasn’t able to take place until today. After much debate, it was decided that the celebration would be a movie party before lunch. One of the parents in the class brought in popcorn and juice boxes. I brought a few movies selections in that were all kid-friendly films and let the class vote. The class eventually voted on watching Coraline, which actually worked out well because the next story I read aloud to the class will be Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk. (Mr. Gaiman is the author of Coraline.)

We got together with the other fourth grade class after lunch and practiced our part for the MLK Celebration, which is an annual tradition at Wiley. (You can read about past celebrations here and here.) Each grade level was responsible for their own portion of the program. My fourth grade partner is out on maternity leave, but her long-term substitute is a retired teacher from our school who helped come up with ideas for the fourth graders. We had them sing a song called “This Young Man Had a Dream” and another song called “Freedom, Freedom, Let It Ring.” Other grades sang songs, recited poems, and shared quotes about freedom, liberty, and equality. The program ended with the students, teachers, and parents joining in singing “We Shall Overcome” before classes were dismissed.

It was a great day of celebrations! I hope that all of the students will get plenty of rest and relaxation over the long weekend so we can jump back into things come Tuesday!


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