Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Learning Journeys: Fourth Grade

Elementary school teachers journey with their students down multiple content/skill paths during the year. Defining those paths helps with efficiency when it comes to the necessary research, materials, and prep time. What journeys will my fourth graders travel this year?

Read Aloud: About three times a week we'll read a book together. During that time we'll focus on story elements, comprehension strategies, the author's intent, writer's craft, and genre.  I'll choose a wide variety of books to read aloud, books I believe will capture this class's attention while also introducing the students to many genre. Assessments at the end of each book will help to determine the next read aloud focus.

Close Reading: Two to three times a week we'll focus on short text and close reading.  During this time students will practice multiple close reading strategies as they gain to tools to understand and respond to text with depth. Through a series of lessons and assessments, I'll continue to build this process throughout the year.

Reader's Workshop: During this time students will read books of choice independently, with partners, and in small groups.  Students will have the chance to write reading responses related to those books as well. The next step in this effort is student-teacher one-to-one conferences where we set reading/writing goals, discuss interests, and determine ways that I can help the student develop best.

Writing Books: Our online and offline writer's books will be used during free write times in school and at home. Now that classroom routines are set it's time to make time to let student share their wonderful writing with me, classmates, and visiting volunteers and teachers.

Writer's Workshop: During writer's workshop we'll focus on specific genre including persuasive, narrative, and research topics using the writing process. This week begins our persuasive writing unit. Writer's workshop will also include focused lessons on grammar and spelling.  Further grammar and spelling will be included with Lexia, grammar/spell check, Sum Dog English/Writing, and other tools.

Math: Math will be taught standard by standard using a unit approach that embeds the standards for mathematical practice.  This teaching will include multiple modes of learning and teaching including hands-on, games, online practice and learning, projects, discussion, and models. Our first unit begins next Monday now that we're nearing the end of many assessments and the start of practice/study routines.

Social Studies will mainly be embedded into our reading and writing activities as well as related field studies and special events. Class culture, meetings, and decisions are part of our social studies work.  Our first efforts to learn about the history and current day aspects of Native American culture begin this week.

Science activities will be embedded into our Friday afternoon Maker Station/STEAM Fourth Grade Explore lab.  This will be a time when students can utilize the scientific process to research and create using online and hands-on tools and resources in self guided, teacher assisted ways. Next Friday will mark our first STEAM afternoon led by a talented colleague for the entire fourth grade.
Tech will be integrated throughout the curriculum and during our Wednesday and Friday tech workshops where students will learn specific tech skills and utilize those skills for interdisciplinary project work. Our tech specialist and fourth grade teachers began this process by creating a wonderful "Be the Architect of Your Own Learning" bulletin board.

Field studies are planned throughout the year to give students a chance to learn and explore in the field. Soon we'll begin our first adventure, Farm Days.

Each ingredient in the fourth grade journey is a limitless ingredient, one that students could eventually spend their life using and developing as a career and/or passion.  At this level, however, it's our aim to develop a broad foundation of multiple skills, concept, and knowledge in student-centered ways so that every one can find themselves in the curriculum offerings and information.

Is your fourth grade menu similar to ours?  What additional activities and events do you include? What efforts do you make to integrate all of these components into meaningful work and study for children?