A few years ago, I started a tradition with my fourth graders...lip synching to a positive song. We listen to a variety of songs with good messages throughout the year, then pick a good and dance and sing to it. And we look for cameos around campus too. We never know who we'll run into or what the plan will be, but the videos always turn out cool. Here is this year's, for your enioyment.
One of the coolest things in a classroom is when a student comes up to me and asks how something works, knowing that the student has been pondering an answer or a mistake, and then seeing the leap of learning in his mind after my explanation.
The photo below shows a math problem with the wrong answer that a ten year old was pondering because he kept getting it slightly wrong. My students are learning to divide decimal numbers, so he was doing the problem of
.15 ÷ .3 = 5 (the answer is really .5). He couldn't quite understand why the answer wasn't just the whole number of 5. I showed him 1.5 ÷ .3 = 5 and that .15 ÷ .03 = 5 by using the drawing to demonstrate the distances on a number line. There was a bit more to it than that, but the drawing helped make the problem concrete rather than just a procedure that was confusing. He could envision what the numbers stood for, so he got it! This all happened during a transition and took less than a minute to discuss...and we got an AHA! moment out of it. Excellent work young man!
Now, I know for some readers that sounds wordy and like a bunch of jibberish, but I guarantee if you heard the explanation you would have gotten it too. That's what I truly believe for my students too.
I had a student say one of the best things that can be said today, and I learned a lesson along the way.
During our box workshop time:
Student: "Mr. Wilson, can I make a human body box?"
Me: "Yeah, you can try to make a human body box."
Student: "I'm not going to TRY to make one, I'm going to make one."
Amen, young lady! Go for it!!
Check out the products my fourth graders are making and selling in two weeks.
One of the last units in fourth grade every year is the business unit. Students are required to come up with a handmade product to be sold to other students in the school. All production is done in a classroom workshop, so it's all student made.
The unit is designed to have several goals: learning about finances of a small business (expenses, sales, profits), the marketing side of things and also the operations side of production. As students have gotten into the operations side, there's been excitement, a little nervousness and much noise too! But the learning that goes on is so cool.
There have been several awarenesses, even in the first few days, that are unexpected, valuable lessons. Below are just a few of these awarenesses that have improved production (that adults might have already known, but that students are just becoming aware of):
1. painting many mixing sticks at once instead of one at a time
2. separating beads into different colors ahead of time
3. using water to remove wrappers from crayons
4. cutting out as many 6" strips from material as possible
5. cutting ribbons of 8" all at once instead one at a time
6. sketching original drawings all on one piece of paper before copying
7. creating a template to use for multiple versions of a story in Word.
© 2015 Peter J. Wilson
Peter Wilson teaches fourth grade at University Lake School, in Hartland, WI.