By Marci Horne. 4th Grade Math. Published at Saturday, November 21st, 2020 - 19:29:01 PM.
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.
English Language Arts Common Core Standards The common education standards adopted by over 45 states this year includes a robust English Language Arts component. It emphasizes utilitarian writing and reading. For example, in 4th grade, students are asked to read 50% literary texts and 50% informational texts. This changes in secondary school to 30% literary and 70% informational. The writing emphasizes expository writing, persuasive writing and narrative writing. The percentage breakdowns in 4th grade are 30% persuasion, 35% explaining, and 35% to share experiences. That changes in twelfth grade to 49% persuasion, 40% explaining and 20% to share experiences.
This was one of the Ah-ha! moments of my life. If these children could not take apart and put together concrete objects as basic as simple inset puzzles, how on earth could they take apart and put together abstractions, such as letters and sounds. Our classroom changed. I kept those opened puzzles in the classroom, and I bought more simple inset puzzles for my students, as well as easy interlocking puzzles with only a few pieces. The students became adept at taking these puzzles apart, then putting them together again to create a predetermined whole. I bought blocks for the classroom, which they put together, then took apart, then put together again in different ways, creating a wide range of things, similar to what we do with letters when sounding out words.
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.
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.
Holding On Its 11am and Im in my pajamas in my home office, trusty dog by my side, eating last nights Chinese off a wilted paper plate, baring my soul to thousands of strangers Im never going to meet on my mental health blog, strangers who are never going to think of leaving a comment despite all my soul-bearing posts. Still, writing is what Ive dreamed of doing for a living since the 4th grade. Its all thanks to my 4th grade teacher, Ellen Hillman (I include her whole name in case shes reading, you never know). She saw merit in my 4th grade stories and asked if she could read them to the class during our Friday reading circle. I recall my first thought like it was yesterday: but what if the class doesnt like them? To my amazement my friends enjoyed my unpolished efforts, and applauded my work. The class gasped when Mrs. Hillman revealed I had written the story-gasped! My little soul ablaze with hope. Maybe I was onto something here, something I could actually succeed at! Thanks to one teachers encouragement, Ive been writing, completely unschooled and rouge for a very long time. While working from home in your comfy p.j.s while being your most expressive, creative self may not sound like heaven to others, it is for me. Pure heaven on earth. Had I not continued to fiercely hold onto that dream over the years (the dream of making readers gasp), I might have found myself working in a high-rise, rat-maze cubical office, bitching about the watered-down coffee and impossible copy machine. Instead, Im my own boss, eating Chinese at 11am in my jammies-cozy and comfortable at home, doing what I do best, which is baring my soul. I believe holding onto your dreams is crucial to achieving deep contentment in life. What was it you wanted to be or do in 4th grade? How about when you were a teen or young adult, just getting a start in the world? What did you know you could be and do before the world told you you couldnt? The majority of people who love what they do, who relish every minute of their workday and who are living their passion will tell you they held onto their dreams for a long time before they succeeded the way they first envisioned. Success doesnt just happen, and it certainly doesnt happen overnight. Gone are the days where you could go to a corner soda shop in Hollywood, hang out and be "discovered." Due to the internet, the world is much larger nowadays, and competitions much steeper. However, your competition may be lacking in one crucial ingredient that you have, the one element that can set you apart from the rabid pack, and that is a prevailing persistence, complimented by a sprinkling of patience. Success will require that you master the art of determination.
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