Teaching is much more than curriculum... I'm never not thinking about "heart" whether it's a serious time or lighter time. This is a beautiful song that I'll play for my students as we talk about "heart." If you will, on this video go to minute 34:27 and play until 39:20 and you'll see why.
I had to share what's going on with the box project outside my classroom. It's very cool to see them being made in other environments. This summer, I ran a workshop in Minneapolis where ONE person showed up. But that one person was the one who was supposed to be there. The one who showed up is Dr. Nicole Muth, Elementary/Middle School Department Chair at Concordia University. Nicole also runs their student teacher program. Nicole and I took a selfie together at the end of our one-on-one workshop, because it was so serendipitous that she was the one who showed up. That photo is below.
Nicole recently sent me some photos of the work her student teachers are doing with the box project in their placement schools. How cool is that to see the project happening in other schools? That's my goal for students. Photos are shown below too.
I'm speaking about the box project at a conference in Ohio this Friday - supposed to be 27 people signed up...I'll take a selfie of that too! And hopefully the box project will get into more schools.
Throwing in a cool song too.
Besides the obvious advantage of seeing kids learn from my teaching, there is also the advantage of being with 9-10 year olds all day. You see and hear lots of things that can make you laugh. You can just imagine. Some are captured by photos, including a kid pulling tape from his hair that he put on for a short speech, bedhead from a sleepover, the leftover plate from the brownies given to me last week, a gift given the night before school started or maybe a fun drawing a kid might make. There's also the cool gifts given and the evidence of kids' learning too. So, here you go, a few photos to tell the story of what can happen in a classroom, beyond the teaching and learning.
Well, my fourth grade students starting giving speeches this week, something I'm glad my fourth grade teachers didn't make us do!
I want them to learn they can share with a crowd what they know just off the top of their heads without needing note cards. And of course to be okay standing in front of crowd.
I use to hate it myself. But for them, since teachers tell students to be quiet a lot of times, I tell them it's a time for them to talk and be listened to for a short amount of time.
We start with 30 second speeches and go from there during the year. Each student picks a card out of a basket of things they probably know how to do (like make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, how to paddle a canoe or how to play ping-pong). They have ten minutes to think about what they want to say and make a prop if they think it will help.
I am always very proud of them, and I think they are proud of themselves.
The next one is 45 seconds and they get to pick the topic the night before.
Keep it up fourth graders!
Well, our Native American unit is well under way. Parents will be blown away by how much students have learned in only six weeks, including: sample architecture, Canva creations from research, Venn diagrams together with Tellagami videos, music/drumming, artwork, a totem pole, short stories, reading about Sacagawea and Sitting Bull, math of perimeter and area...plus extra special boxes being finished. They even hung in there when I showed them a website of complicated cone designs. It's crazy how much they are learning about Plains, Desert Southwest and Pacific Northwest native people.
Check out a few photos from the unit.
A new school year is filled with fresh new faces and excitement. And a bit of nervousness. All teachers want the year to go well, so there's plenty of energy flowing through everyone's system. This year was no different.
I'm lucky, because I'm at a really good school, with great students and parents. But some of the things that are always hard for me, if you can believe it, are wearing long pants again and wearing work shoes! Yep, those are the two things I have to get used to because I wear shorts ALL summer, unless I have a wedding or something else to go to, which I didn't have to this year. And the work shoes?...I've learned they are a bit thinner than my tennis shoes, and boat shoes! The first week always bring blisters on my big toes, thus requiring band-aids.
Just thought I'd let you know how a year starts! ;) This year started out with a teacher gift the night before school even started, when a student brought me a hand-painted mug inspired by our Native American unit and totem pole.
Oh yeah, there's also lessons to teach, all the systems to get into place, long hours to get it all set up, meetings with staff and parents, and making sure we learn all about our students. The first week is a big week, and sets the tone for the rest of the year. My school had four days this past week, so we get things ready for the rest of the year. I like having those four days, because then the day after Labor Day, we hit the road running. There is no messing around from this point on...oh wait, yes there is, because fourth graders understand fun teasing, and of course if I hand it out, I deserve getting it back. And oh yeah, it's started already...I said "scissor," instead of "scissors." You'd think that might slide by, but no. Students have also learned my most important acronym of the year: NLA, which means No Lollygagging Allowed. If they hear it, the kids in the back of a line need to pick up their pace. A new one this year is PGN, which means Please Go Now. If kids happen to be waiting in line by a bathroom, gosh darn it, go, instead of asking five minutes later when we get back the classroom! Kids made that one up.
Fourth grade is perfect for me as teachers learn the perfect niche of kids they teach the best. Fourth graders are great because they are smart, sweet, and understand fun sarcasm (never mean). That's why a former student was nicknamed Pizza! Pizza! but we also threw him a party for his favorite team, the Seahawks, after they lost the Super Bowl. That is sweet and uplifting, full of heart. I love teaching all subjects, and math seems to be my specialty, but I also love teaching, or influencing, "heart." I want my students to feel good about themselves, have perseverance, and grit. And I was want them to learn the virtue of thinking of others and giving it all they have to learn as much as they can while in class.
So, although I started this blog about not being able to wear shorts anymore, and how the dress shoes make my feet a bit sore, teaching is a passion, a huge responsibility and the best decision of my life. Teachers have a unique job, covering a variety of lessons: the subjects and about life. It's supreme privilege to have the blessing to spend a school year with 9-10 year olds.
So this is written for all the teachers and students out there, and those who know them, giving them maximum acknowledgement for effort and blessings to them for a new school year filled with extreme teaching and learning. Have a great year everyone. XO
This past week gave me a chance to try teaching the Box Project as a five-day workshop for 3-5 graders at UWM's College for Kids. Usually I have a whole year to teach kids to problem-solve and grow in their geometric and visual literacy.
Working with the thirteen kids whose parents paid for the class was very challenging, but also very rewarding. They loved the project, but also needed extra scaffolding since we were stuffing a lot into a week. Plus, they started with cubes and pyramids, but wanted to jump to cool designs that they really weren't ready for in just a couple days. But we tired it anyway.
Luckily, four former students of mine helped for four of the five days, which saved the class. They helped so much because I couldn't possibly scaffold so many kids at the same time, plus the four kids that helped knew their boxes. They probably could have taught the class themselves!
It's incredible to see how newer kids to boxes grab onto the idea and go after it. As a teacher who wants to challenge, engage and inspire kids, it's very rewarding to experience their growth, comments, and thank yous. Almost every kid wanted to take grid paper home with them when the class ended yesterday. Awesome to see!
© 2015 Peter J. Wilson
Peter Wilson teaches fourth grade at University Lake School, in Hartland, WI.