Saturday, December 14, 2013

January Menu: Fourth Grade

Applying WWW W2H2 mnemonic to the story mountain
graphic organizer. This is a sketch of a bulletin board to come.
I like to plan ahead.  I find that when I set the schedule ahead the ideas have time to simmer and grow prior to implementation.

So as I finish up the December menu and prep for the holidays, I'll set the January focus.

January will begin with a strong emphasis on narrative. Our school librarian has selected a number of wonderful intermediate picture books to savor and study as I prepare for this unit. I'll use PTO money to buy a class collection of one or two chosen narratives so that we can start the unit with a week-long "read like writers" effort.  As we "read like writers" we'll study the chosen text(s) intensely looking at character, setting, plot, climax, and resolution.  We'll also analyze the ways the author has used rich language, transitional words, craft, and pacing to tell his/her story well.

While we "read like writers" in class, at home students will engage in a number of idea generating activities for homework--activities such as making a collection of wonderful, personal photos, listing their favorite all-time personal stories, drawing story boards, and more.  We'll start a shared Google thread as well to share our ideas for story and that share will help to generate lots and lots of story ideas. In class, we'll also discuss the idea of "seed stories" and what makes a good story. The bulletin board will include standards-based mini posters, the story mountain graphic organizer, and SRSD mnemonic.

Once the introduction and review of story is complete, we'll start our SRSD narrative pedagogy. That pedagogy will include a pre-assessment, analyzing our own stories, teacher/student modeling, learning a mnemonic, applying the mnemonic, growing our story writing skill in multiple ways, and charting/celebrating growth.

Our January math focus will begin with geometry and multiplication/division with large numbers. We'll add minutes to our math time as well as lots and lots of practice and problem solving.

Reading will find us focusing on close reading/reading response strategies and practice across genre. We'll also employ the SRSD approach in this area and regular, at-home independent practice weekly.

I want the January menu to take on a predictable routine of serious standards-based study. January is a perfect month for this serious approach as it is a post holiday month with lots of cold, winter weather outside. Hence a good month to focus with depth and effort.

As I clean up from the culture celebration later this week, I'll prepare the classroom set-up for this serious, studious approach. I'll place the indoor recess toys and craft corner out of sight, but easily accessible for free time/recess choice.  I'll clean up the book corners and place lots of narratives on the display case. Geometry posters will replace the measurement posters, and math vocabulary will take the place of the culture stories.

I'll leave the room at the end of the week ready for the new year and the January focus, a focus that's likely to take some unexpected twists and turns, changes that add life to the menu.