By Delia Mathews. 4th Grade Math. Published at Sunday, November 08th, 2020 - 21:34:07 PM.
Now, coincidentally, during this same time period, I was pregnant with my first child. As many first-time mothers-to-be, I bought an over-abundance of things in anticipation of the arrival of my first child. One evening, I had purchased some simple inset puzzles... the ones that dont have interlocking pieces. There was a puzzle with vehicles, each cut to fit in its own separate cut-out space, each with a little red knob for small hands to manipulate. Another puzzle had animals, while a third had people. I realized when I arrived at work the next morning, that I had forgotten to take the bag containing the puzzles out of my car. Because my school was located in a part of the city were car break-ins were common, the administrator had directed staff to leave nothing of value in our cars during the day. I carried the bag of puzzles into the classroom and put it on the floor beside my desk.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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