Sunday, October 30, 2016

#11 -- An Amazing Week in 4th Grade

If someone sentenced me to teaching 4th grade for the rest of my life, I have to admit, I wouldn't hate it. I'm really enjoying this grade level. And it comes as a surprise to me, actually, because when I started out my degree, I didn't picture myself in a general education classroom, leave alone 4th grade. I mean, 4th grade is so, well, middle, and un-glamorous. But I love it here!

One of my favorite things we taught this past week was purple words. Students were taught to look for descriptive words in menus. After they collected a descriptive vocabulary, they either created their own imaginary food to describe, or a real food. They wrote great descriptors. And I thoroughly enjoy teaching language skills.

I was given a few more responsibilities in the classroom including reading groups and daily math. Next week I'll be given a few more. On Monday I'll be evaluated for the fourth time for my degree.

Chief Little Turtle, Miami Indian of Indiana
I'm super excited that my supervising teacher has approved a unit study for me to teach on Indiana's First Peoples. Anyone who knows me knows that I love history. (See my websites, and I introduced the students to Woodland Indians. I'm surprised how little they know. I expected 4th graders to be more aware of history, but maybe that's because I'm a homeschooling parent and we talked history constantly in my house when my kids were growing up. (Plus, being an author of historic narratives makes me a little more, er, historic? than most folks...)

I know I won the lottery landing this student teaching gig with this classroom and teacher. First, the students are much more cooperative than I expected. Even though there are the random ornery ones, they aren't mean-spirited. They are just kids being kids. One little boy is such a stinker but he has the cutest freckles, sparkling eyes and grin. I can't get mad at him! Or any of them, for that matter. But my classroom management skills are improving.

Second reason I won the lottery, this teacher's philosophy is similar to mine. Project-based learning is important. Really important. And she's as passionate about it as I am. It keeps the students much more engaged and helps them invest in their own learning. She also enjoys using technology as much as possible. As I've written before, the role of teachers is changing. We are more facilitators of students' learning than actual direct instructors. I love that.

Another thing I'm doing is reading all the students' blogs and helping them with grammar. I made each student a checklist to follow to help them with the simple things: capitals, periods, etc. I'm not sure they even get that they are to refer to it to check over their work. And when I do comment on their blogs, some actually correct their blogs (I comment privately). Others ignore it. I'm still looking for a better way to help them and also to keep track of corrected blogs. 24 students times ten blogs? That's a lot of checking and keeping track!

Probably my favorite time of the week was when I read the BFG chapter: "Frobscottle and Whizzpoppers." Oh mylanta. We all laughed so hard. I wish I'd written that chapter!

Frobscottle is a drink the giant drinks that makes him pass gass. He calls these emissions Whizzpoppers. Here's my favorite quote from the main character, Sophie:

Kings and Queens are whizzpopping. Presidents are whizzpopping. Glamorous film stars are whizzpopping. Little babies are whizzpopping. But where I come from, it is not polite to talk about it.
And what the giant says:

Us giants is making whizzpoppers all the time! Whizzpopping is a sign of happiness. It is music to our ears!
Makes me wish I'd written the book. So clever, engaging and fun. I love it when school is fun, don't you?

Speaking of which, on Friday the students and teachers were allowed to dress up as book characters.They held a contest and I was embarrassed to have to stand in front of the entire school. I didn't win, of course, because students don't know who I am and couldn't figure out who I was because I dressed as one of my own book characters. That is, a character whose books I'm currently writing. Funny, eh?

I dressed as Grandma Betty Biddle from my Airship Chronicles trilogy. Can you see me? I'm in the back on the left.

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As soon as I get my badge, I'll announce my new school and position. So excited!!