By Beverley Shannon. 4th Grade Math. Published at Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 - 11:33:53 AM.
Often, the instructional year is looked at in isolation. 5th grade teachers only look at 5th grade curricula, 3rd grade teachers only look at 3rd grade, 8th grade teachers only look at 8th grade, etc. Rather than planning your academic year based on your textbooks only, consider looking at your academic year as one "leg" in a relay race. Its your job as an educator to cover the skills, strengths, "speed," and accuracy of the leg youre on, as well as the hand off to the next leg in the race. Using backwards educational goals makes this much easier, and the scope of your classroom instruction will be much more thorough.
When the Parents were Growing Up If parents recall their first real science fair project, the memory is probably not a particularly good on, unless their parents did the project for them. Science Projects can be unnerving for kids. Parents did not have the luxury of the Internet, nor any great books on the subject. If the library had one or two publications, these were probably already backlisted for months since all the other kids wanted the same material. So, either the science project turned out to be unexciting or the parents stepped in and did the project for junior. Today, 4th graders still need help, but the Web is a tremendous help in finding and completing a good science fair project. But parents also need to be doing a web search to make sure that the experiment chosen is both safe for the student and also exciting. This first experiment will determine how the student views science and experiments for years to come.
Determination is like having your own private football linebacker. Linebackers are part of the defensive team, who provide extra protection to the quarterback. When we show inordinate amounts of determination, we become more resistant to set-backs. The linebacker in us refuses to let the opposition take us down. In a blitz, the linebacker sacks or hurries the opposing offenses quarterback. The linebacker in us will either pursue and demolish the obstacle, or at the very least, apply enough pressure to hurry the play. To have your dreams, youll have to weave and bob around unending obstacles, persist through waves of discouragement (even heartbreak), and charge fiercely towards your goal like a linebacker with the red of blitz in his eye. Who said you couldnt learn anything from football.
Students may have ideas about their future vocation. They may want to be an astronaut or super-star in sports. As they become a bit more realistic, the choices they have will depend heavily on their education. In considering future employment, its common to overlook the importance of math competency. Almost every good job requires adequate math skills. Some demand advanced math competence. These include any branch of medicine, most managerial positions, engineers, lab technicians, pilots, construction workers, graphic designers, surveyors, accountants, bookkeepers, teachers, many retail jobs, most government jobs, and the list goes on and on. Parents and young students may not realize the importance of early mastery of math fundamentals. Mathematics is a subject that builds on prior knowledge. Once you fall behind, math becomes drudgery and requires more time to complete homework assignments. It is wrong to assume that since electronic calculators can do math computations quickly, memorization of basic facts doesnt really matter anymore. Without basic fact fluency, frustration levels will only increase.
Letting Go Letting go means standing aside and allowing life to happen without my trying to control it. This has been (and some days still is) a completely foreign concept to me, because I was raised by a single-parent who was an abuse survivor. She taught us to stand up for ourselves and never be walked on. She taught us to speak up for ourselves. She also taught us to have a really good "BS meter." All important things if you want to feel in control and not be taken advantage of. What I didnt learn is how to flow with life: how to stand back, detach and be the observer, allowing others to do whatever they are going to do, and not attempt to control, manipulate or change the outcome. In short, I was programmed since childhood to defend myself really, really well. So while I have been described as a strong person, an intelligent person, and a capable person, nobody has ever described me as a particularly agreeable person, a gentle person, or a "go with the flow" kind of gal. Quite the contrary, Ive been described as a "take charge" kind of gal. This was brought to my attention again recently in a radio interview I did. I wanted so much to say what Id planned to say that the poor host literally couldnt get a word in edgewise. I battle with letting go and letting life spontaneously happen more than most folks, because I was abused as a child by one parent, and then taught to fight back by the other. There was no balance between the two extremes. When you think about it, letting go is all about trust. Its trusting that we live in an abundant and benevolent Universe. Its trusting another person to be there for us and catch us when we fall. Its trusting that I am in fact "good enough," regardless of what seems like evidence to the contrary. Its trusting that its okay to make mistakes because Im human. Its trusting that most of the time Im safe and not in danger, contrary to what my alarmist brain would have me believe. Letting go is the polar opposite of control, and its whats required if were going to reclaim our life. I am certain of this, because it wasnt until I let go of my idea of who I was (a mental health counselor) that I could finally see myself for who Id become (a suicide survivor). Seeing myself for who I really am has not been easy or comfortable, but ultimately its made my life healthier and happier. We are who weve become, not who we think we are.
Dorit: In your blog, you focus on various ways teachers can engage students. What do you feel by far is the most critical and challenging area(s) for new teachers to acquire? How do you feel about the task of engaging students? Damien: Great question on engaging students. People are attracted to energy. When a teacher is involved and enthusiastic in what she/he is teaching, kids are drawn there. That place is where learning occurs. The way to get there as a teacher is highly up to the individual. If I see a new teacher talking about the objective assigned to her as if she is walking barefoot on broken glass, I will ask her later: "What part of that boring lesson COULD you enjoy teaching?" Usually I get some wild answers after a while. The conclusion we come to is that you have to be interested of the kids wont buy in. New teachers should start finding the ways to be comfortable with the material, the delivery, the "tech toys" like projectors etc, and all the stuff they use to teach. As that comfort is developed, kids will want to come to class and they will learn. Kids are like sponges but if theres no water. Dorit: How has the internet affected teachers ability to think in more dynamic terms of engaging their learners? Your students writing? Damien: I enjoy keeping a blog but that may not be everyones cup of tea. The internet makes it possible to instantly gather photos and information on a variety of topics each day for your kids. I try to do my planning on Thu and Fri after school. At that time I assemble all the stuff I can from the internet. Its also a way to connect with teachers across the globe and escape "the box" of your school site or district thinking patterns.
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