By May Vasquez. 4th Grade Math. Published at Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 - 05:37:45 AM.
Many teachers plan their year based on the textbooks order and agenda for the school year. This isnt bad, but often it fails to take into consideration the actual skills needed for the next year, and only addresses the lessons to be covered. The lessons to be covered are critical, but from the perspective of the skills necessary to move forward. Instead of planning the year forward, if teachers would plan for backwards education, skills would be steadily increased and students would be more prepared for the upcoming year along the way. The concept is simple. As a teacher, determine what skills, or what knowledge needs to be mastered by your students before they complete your grade levels learning. In other words, if you teach 4th grade, what skills would the 5th grade teachers in your school hope and pray that your students have learned when they walk in the door for 5th grade. Talk to the teachers in the grades above you. Find out what they think are the greatest challenges at their grade level, and how skill or knowledge deficits have affected their instructional year.
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.
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.
Moving to first grade meant moving away from the very secluded kindergarten classrooms and playgrounds. We spent a few different afternoons walking around the classrooms and visiting the new playground. When we discovered which classroom my child was in, we went there two or three times to make it comfortable to find and remember. Our school offers kindergartners the opportunity to buy hot lunch the very last two weeks of the school year so that the kids are comfortable with the cafeteria and lunch lines before they enter first grade. I made sure my daughters bought lunch several times in those two weeks so they could experience the new routine.
An example of remediation in reading is when the child is chronologically in the 4th grade but reads at the 2nd grade level. Remedial instruction presents the student with materials written at the 2nd grade level and has the child read them. The problem is that the child may not have the decoding skills for vocabulary or the language skills to understand the complex sentences of anything written above 2nd grade level. Both of these problems are typical of special education children and have the root of the problem in skills that most children master at 4 and 5 years of age. Unfortunately, the assumptions made by most people in education are that everyone is equally ready for school by the time they enroll in kindergarten.
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.
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