By Elisabeth Martinez. 4th Grade Math. Published at Sunday, November 22nd, 2020 - 02:51:16 AM.
I was an inner-city classroom teacher in a new, open-space school, part of a 4th grade team consisting of 4 teachers and 100 students. Sixteen of our students could not read even at the 1st grade level. They were all boys, and of course, these students were the behavior problems. Within the first two weeks of school, many of them were spending more time in the office for behavioral referrals than in their classrooms. The instruction was not differentiated according to reading levels, so these students were learning very little in materials geared toward a 4th grade reading level. My background was Alternative Education, and my passion was working with students who were slipping through the cracks. I suggested to the other three teachers on the team, that if they were willing to increase their class sizes, I would take the 16 non-readers. The other teachers jumped at the opportunity, and the administrator approved. By the third week of school, I had been relocated to a small, self-contained room with the 16 non-readers.
It should also be noted that my school follows a time allocation chart in which each subject is assigned a specific number of minutes per week by grade level. Lunch, recess, special classes, computer lab time, math, reading, social studies, science, physical education, writing, and rest time are all charted down to the minute. My school has about 350 students, until the spring of each year when we get an additional 50 students who are the children of migrant workers in the local blueberry fields. I consider the school to be medium-size. One of the complications we face each year is that we share our music, physical education, and art teachers with three other elementary schools. Different teachers are at the school on different days. This makes a cookie-cutter daily schedule simply impossible.
For years and years, I looked for her, Elizabeth from 4th grade and even with the advent of social media I could never find her. Every time Id hear a story about bullying I saw her face and then mine. When I saw the movie Flatliners, I couldnt get her out of my head for a month. I wanted so badly to apologize to this little 4th-grade girl, and I never thought Id get the chance. That is until the other day; there she was by complete accident on a friends Facebook feed. I was scared to befriend her, I wondered if she remembered me, I wondered if she hated me, I wondered if she even cared, I wondered if she had the same childhood memory I lugged around for almost half a century. I tucked fear into the back seat, and then I requested her as a friend on Facebook. In what seemed like an instant she accepted my request. My hands were trembling, and I was afraid. My hope was she didnt remember the incident or me.
The predominance of reading and writing are of informational materials, evaluating the content, forming opinions and persuading. Never are students asked to read or write for entertainment; the pure joy of reading or writing is never mentioned. Forget about humor! A second emphasis within the Common Core ELA standards is college-and-career readiness. Because of this things are all geared toward businesses. Students are asked to work in teams, to manage technology, to negotiate opinions and try to persuade using reason. They have to work with independence, writing for several audiences, tasks, purposes and among various disciplines. They handle facts competently, both researching material and understanding facts; they quickly proceed to evaluation and critique of factual material. As soon as they give opinions, they back them with specific facts and strong evidence. All the while they work collaboratively and incorporate technology regularly. A balanced view is required for team work and they also should respect other perspectives and cultures.
Dorit: Youre a veteran teacher-what do you teach and how long have you been teaching? Damien: Thank you for the moniker! I currently teach 4th grade public school in Southern California. Im credentialed to teach K-6 and Ive been teaching now for 9 years. Grades I have taught in the past include: 3,4,5,9, and I have taught college courses. So I like to think Ive seen a variety of ages so I can offer help and share about more than just 4th grade. Dorit: I hear also youre a writer - what do you also like to write and how long have you been writing? Damien: I got my Masters in English hoping to be a writer and college professor. The college professor thing wasnt for me, too much academia quicksand, but the writing has panned out well in one book publishing and a variety of popular posts out in the web. I book publishing came about when I answered a simple call for stories in my school newsletter. It ended up being published in a book. You can access my published and non published web writing at my online resume I call Riley Central.
Some other ideas also include finding out what kinds of materials magnets can go through such as felt paper, newspaper, construction paper, and an experiment to see if ants can find their way back to their ant hill if you move them a distance away. Another nice thing about science projects for this age group is that theres not a lot of materials involved and the results are usually able to be seen if not right away, then very soon after the project has been started. Projects like this are great for fourth graders because it makes learning fun and they can do most of it on their own which gives them a great sense of accomplishment.
Any content, trademark’s, or other material that might be found on the 74state website that is not 74state’s property remains the copyright of its respective owner/s. In no way does 74state claim ownership or responsibility for such items, and you should seek legal consent for any use of such materials from its owner.