By Tami Chaney. 4th Grade Math. Published at Thursday, November 19th, 2020 - 05:05:05 AM.
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.
The day proceeded normally. It was a rainy day, with an indoor recess, and an educational assistant came to my room to monitor the class while I took my 15-minute break. When I came back at the end of my break, the educational assistant was nowhere to be seen. The boys were all clustered near my desk, sitting on the floor, actively engaged with something. I quickly realized they had torn open the bag from the toy store, opened each of the puzzles, and had the pieces scattered all over the floor. I was upset... at the assistant who was supposed to be monitoring my class, and at the students, for getting into my personal items and opening puzzles intended for my as-yet-unborn child. I sternly demanded that the boys put the puzzles back together! And then I watched in utter amazement, as I realized that not one of these 4th grade boys was able to put the pieces of a simple inset puzzle back in place!
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.
Consider the recent Occupy Protest movements that sprung up in New York and major cities across America and the globe. Basically these protests came down to jobs and the ability for folks to provide for their families, it came down to hope for the future. The fact is the majority of people around the world want jobs. This is a change from the past century, where the number one thing citizens expected from their leadership was food, shelter and security. Today that number one desire is simply good jobs. These protest movements, which were for the most part peaceful, are just a sliver of what is to come for countries and cities whose leadership fails to understand this new economic reality and this new global war for jobs. Folks around the world want and expect their leadership to make the right decisions, which allow for economic growth, job creation and stability in their countries, cities and communities. Take that away to a high degree and the recent "Occupy" protest movements will seem like a walk in the park and instead government leaders may experience widespread havoc, violent protests and even attempts at overthrowing their entire government leadership. Similar to what we have witnessed recently in many of the Arab countries, like Egypt, Syria, Libya, where entire government leadership was forcibly thrown out. Or Spain, where youth unemployment is also rampant.
4th grade science experiments dont need to be overly involved and they can usually be done alone, with minimal help from teachers or parents. Children this age are very curious and full of energy so they should have no trouble coming up with a topic to experiment. One simple science experiment they may want to try is to see if draining water always spirals in the same direction. This is interesting and quite easy to test. It also involves a little foot work, which the kids will likely enjoy. All you really need to do is flush a toilet and see which way it drains, then fill a sink and see which way it drains, and then compare your results. Another fun one might be to see which material would protect an egg from a six- or eight-foot drop. Some materials you could use would be pillows, bubble wrap, blankets. Styrofoam chips, towels and more. Its pretty easy, just be sure to drop the egg from the same height each time and record your findings. One more idea for 4th grade science projects could be to see if the shape of an ice cube affects how long it takes to melt. You can test this by getting some ice cube trays in different sizes. These types of trays are usually sold at the dollar store. Then freeze water in the trays. Once theyre frozen you can take once ice cube of each shape and set it on a dry surface at the same time and see which ones melts the fastest.
Heres what I observe. They effortlessly pass the "leadership" opportunities to each other and build on each others ideas in ways that we seem to forget as we grow up and become leaders or members of teams. They actually listen as they add new thoughts. Do they occasionally go off topic and on to personal tangents? Of course. But they get back on track and give helpful ideas to each other. Theres innocence, curiosity, simplicity, honesty and a pure desire to help each other. It is a powerful reminder of how complicated we tend to make things as we grow up, both in our personal lives and as leaders. Does everything really need to be as hard and complex as we make it?
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