We develop skills all year in fourth grade, but the next leg of the year will be focused heavily on skill development with regard to reading, writing and math.
Yes, in part, this is fostered by upcoming standardized tests, but this effort is also supported by the need to develop essential skills with some intensity.
Students will develop reading response, essay writing and math problem solving skills with strength and intent.
That means I have to be very thoughtful about the schedule and supports available by crafting a solid routine with time for practice, focus lessons, coaching and editing--lots of editing.
Rather than the serendipity that happens with project/problem base learning, this leg of the year will be much more like training for a triathlon or prepping for the LSATS. It will be a deliberate, targeted and goal oriented time.
I'll guide the students in seeing this for what it is: an intense skill building time, one that will be rewarded by the ability to use newly developed skills during the end-of-the-year mostly project base learning period as we focus on endangered species research projects.
Hence, I'll use the February vacation to rest and prep for the intense period to come--a period that has the potential to move students forward with pride and strength. I'll likely write often during that period to coach myself on and seek feedback as I encounter all the small, but important snags that occur when delving into deep, detailed instruction and focus.