Help...New to 4th Grade!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by misukita, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. misukita

    misukita Rookie

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    After 15 years of teaching in secondary schools, I'm going to be teaching 4TH GRADE next year. I'm up to the task, but a bit aprehensive. I feel like a novice all over again. I would love to ask expert 4th grade teachers for advice on what to do the first day/first week of school. (I'm going to be teaching Reading and Writing.) :confused:

    Rules/Consequences?
    Procedures?
    Centers?
    List of Materials?
    Letters Home?
    Textbooks?
    Writer's Notebooks?
    Portfolios?
    Word Walls?

    What do you recommend as far as these is concerned and what am I forgetting??? THANKS!!!
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Welcome to AtoZ, misukita. Congratulations on the new grade. Will you have an open house before the year starts? That's when we hand out our parent letters. Supplies lists actually are going out in the report cards right now for next year. I teach 5th, but I think you could use any and all of those components and more. You may want personal word walls instead of actually on the wall. Kids love to write on clipboards.

    Have you started putting together a classroom library? What writing and reading approaches will you be using? I still read aloud every day for at least 20 minutes and I know that it has motivated reluctant readers every year.
     
  4. ppax

    ppax Rookie

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    4th Grade help

    Congratulations on your new assignment! Fourth grade, in my opinion, is the nicest grade to teach!

    First Day: This is not terribly unlike your secondary first day. Take some time to build rapport. I do a 'teacher museum" where I put out stations of personal items. Kids rotate through in pairs to guess why they are meaningful to me. Some are obvious, some are mysterious, all are of interest to the students. During this we practice how I get their attention if the class is doing group work (or louder than normal). For each station they have 2 minutes to write down there ideas. When it is time to rotate, we practice the attention grabber. By the end of the museum kids know me better, have learned how to respond if I need their attention, and I get an idea of following directions, social skills, etc. The kids enjoy this and have a chance to get to know 1 or 2 other students this way.

    I always give an assignment on the first day. Something that is easy and has a high probability of everyone being succussful at it.

    I also start to explain classroom procedures and as a class develop rules for the year.

    Students fill out a survey of some sort.

    At the open house (at our school it is always a night or two before the first day) students fill out 3 interesting facts about themselves. I use these to make a list of one fact per student and in class the kids have 20 minutes to match the fact to the right student. (A great ice breaker.)

    I highly recommend "The Name Game". Put the class in a big circle. Each person has to come up with a word that begins with the same sound as their first name (alliteration) and a movement. For example, Jazzy Jeff and he pretends to play the trumpet. The teacher begins by introducing his or herself and the motion, the class responds with "Hi Jazzy Jeff!" The first student is then introduced, the class responds with "Hi Dancing Dana, Jazzy Jeff" As each persons name is chanted the students and teacher mimic their movement, so when "HI Jazzy Jeff" is said, the whole class should pretend to play the trumpet. Repeat this until each student is included in the chant. If you have a large class, when you get to the last third you can drop some of the initial students to save time. Kids love this and you will know 90% or more of the names by the end (and you can recall them without them having to wear the same outfit everyday!).

    I read aloud a fun picture book.

    I model everything, even obvious things such as how to sit appropriately in a chair and what to do with your hands when I am instructing, how to raise your hand, be a good listener, etc.

    Things I never do on the first day: I never have the kids "popcorn" read aloud to the class. Kids who cannot read well outloud are hugely stressed by the thought that they have to read outloud. I have the policy of if you are asked to read outloud you may choose to pass unless I catch you not paying attention. If you need to assess their reading ability informally, start by asking for volunteers to read outloud (you will get plenty) and then you can easily determine who is not comfortable with it and work with them privately.

    I never tell a student what they can't do, I rephrase it into what they can do.

    I do not let students pick their own partners on the first day. The socially challenged kids start out on the wrong foot with this. I assign partners, usually by something goofy and fun for the kids.

    I do not talk for more than 15 minutes straight. If I talk for 15 minutes, around the 6-8 minute mark I do some type of state change to help them stay focused.


    My main goals for the day are for rapport to get a solid start, kids to come out feeling like they can be succusful in my class, to break the ice with the teacher and with other students, and to begin to learn procedures and routines. We start with a half day, and this is usually more than I can squeeze in. I do not do these activities in this order.

    Above all, relax. You will find your stride within the first few weeks of school! By Christmas you will be an old hat at it!
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    What great ideas, ppax! Welcome to AtoZ. I love the teacher museum activity. I usually give my kids a Mrs. B quiz and pretend that it counts for a grade, which gives us all a laugh.

    I give them an activity to do with no talking - line up in alphabetical order by first name without discussing with anyone (very small class). We also play a game about observational skills. I make slips of paper that say things like, 'After someone sits under the desk, turn off the lights', 'After someone turns off the lights, do 3 jumping jacks', and so on. Of course, one of the slips is the start and one is the finish. The kids love this game. (It's a little like Zip Around, the math game - 'I have 15, who has 6 less than 20?')
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Another fun idea is to have a scavenger hunt with clues to things in the classroom. Find the page number for the entry, classroom, in the dictionary. County how many shelves of historical fiction are in the room. Use the almanac to find the population of the U.S. What color is the bin which contains geometric shapes?
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    On the first day in grade 5 last year:
    - The students did a scavenger hunt around the classroom and student agenda planner
    - Each student traced their foot onto a piece of construction paper and decorated it with their name and pictures to represent themselves. These were put onto our classroom door with the title "Step into Grade 5"
    - We played an ice-breaker BINGO game
    - Students wrote about how they felt getting ready for school that morning.
    - We brainstormed school-related words and turned them into poems
    - I had a word search puzzle with the names of all of the students in the class ready on their desks for them to begin to work on as they arrived.

    Have fun!
     
  8. misukita

    misukita Rookie

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    Jun 4, 2006

    Wow, these are all GREAT ideas_thank you, thank you!

    Hey, what room set up works better for the start of the year?
     
  9. WITeach

    WITeach Cohort

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    That's something I haven't done. What kinds of questions/things do you put on your "quiz"?
     
  10. WITeach

    WITeach Cohort

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    Jun 4, 2006

    I send postcards to each student before school starts. Just a little something to introduce myself and get them excited for school. I also do an All About Me kind of bulletin board...although if you do the teacher museum that's kind of the same idea.

    I'm not sure about the "best" way to arrange your desks for the first day. But, you should make sure to have some kind of a nametag on the kids' lockers and desks so that they know which one is theirs.

    Also, I'm not sure if this was mentioned yet, but you will probably need to set aside some time to label folders, notebooks, textbooks, etc.

    Do you have to create your supply list?
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    All True/False. I put stuff like, Mrs. B has 3 sisters. Her favorite color is blue. She is 25 years old. The very last question is always, Mrs. B is very, very excited to have you for a student.
     
  12. misukita

    misukita Rookie

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    Thanks for the quick feedback! I reeeally appreciate your input!!!

    I will be departmentalized, so I'll have different kids coming in and out (3). Should I number the kids' cubbies/desks and assign a number, or do you have a better idea???
     
  13. AChancetoTeach

    AChancetoTeach Comrade

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    This is a GREAT question. What do you do for 4 rotations of kids? I'm departmentalized also. Thanks for the great advice!
     
  14. ppax

    ppax Rookie

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    Jun 7, 2006

    Postcards to brochures

    I send out a brochure prior to school starting which includes one section o my education background (for parents), 2 sections of hobbies, 1 section for my family, 1 section for my philosophy, and 1 section that provides contact information. I follow up with a phone call prior to our first day of school and open house. I usually include something in my museum from the brochure that the kids can connect with.
     
  15. ppax

    ppax Rookie

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    Departmentalized


    I also am departmentalized. My cubbies are numbered, my desks have "my kids" name tags on them. I have a seating chart ready to go for the first day for the kids that rotate in. When they first arrive I greet them and ask them to stand in one area of the room. I then explain that I will show them where they sit, but not to go to their seat until I finish with everyone. I then go around and touch each seat and call the name out for each student. I do a quick help with the few lost ones to get them in the right spot, and then go over the entire seating chart by introducing myself or saying a silly joke or something to make sure they all made it to the correct seats. They also do the teacher museum as explained in an earlier post. The homeroom teacher of this group passes out the textbooks, so I am only passing out my homeroom worth. I do not give them a number, but require them to bring a folder, textbook, and assignments daily. I also use an electronic gradebook that has online access for parents, so I pass out a "how to" type letter and request that parents email me for their students password. (If I have the roster ahead of the start of school then this letter is sent home with the password.)
     
  16. misukita

    misukita Rookie

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    Jun 8, 2006

    Ppax, THANKS for the tips!!! You gave me very useful ideas.

    I'd like to ask those who teach reading/language arts what you do during the first few days of school. Do you administer your own reading inventories? If so, can you recommend one for me?

    World of Thanks!
     
  17. Carla

    Carla Companion

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    Being departmentalized can be tricky. Each teacher will need to use the same system. We assign each kid a number and it sticks with them all year. We also put index cards on the students desks. On the index card we list the kids that sit at that seat...for instance
    1. Tommy
    2. Billy
    3. Patty
    This way we know who sits where and if something happens we can back track and question. This year we the teachers are moving rooms instead of the kids. If anyone else has tried this I'd love to hear from you. Our principal wants us to do this in order to keep issues down in the hallways....
    As far as inventories....they complete an interest inventory and Short answer sheet....what is your favorite subj and why. This way I can see how well they can write. I also give the DSA, word study, but not until my class is pretty stable. We also interview classmates and have each group tell about the person they interview. No sense in giving assessments when you don't have all of your students. Just double work if you do.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  18. HannahB2

    HannahB2 Companion

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    Jun 9, 2006

    Rules/Consequences?
    Keep your rules simple. On the first day, with your whole class, come up with a list of reasonable rules to use throughout the year.
    I use "strikes" for my behavior system. Each time a student breaks a rule or does something inappropriate, I mark a strike.
    3 Strikes=Verbal Warning
    6=No Recess or Lunch Detention
    9-Note/Phone Home
    12-Office Referral

    Procedures?

    Come up with a class handbook & distribute in the mail with Welcome to (your grade) packet.
    Centers?
    http://www.homestead.com/kindergarten2/learningcenters.html

    You may have to modify to fit your grade.

    List of Materials?

    Send home in your packet.

    Letters Home?
    Packet.

    Textbooks?

    They will be in your room or admin will supply you. Keep track of student book numbers!

    Writer's Notebooks?

    Yes. =]
    Portfolios?
    Put this in the Writer's Notebook/Binder.
    Word Walls?
    Maybe a tad too young for 4th graders.

    Any more questions? Please feel free to PM me.

    =]

    Hannah
     
  19. ppax

    ppax Rookie

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    Reading Inventories

    I use a combination of the DRA and the QRI. The DRA kit that I have tops out at a 44. A fair number of my beginning 4th graders are at a higher level than this. I like the DRA better for those students reading below a 4th grade level. I use the QRI for my students who read at a 4th grade level or higher. I hugely recommend that you run your reading inventories. They are time consuming, but well worth it. In my building, we are asked to recommend students for reading support very early in the school year, so I get cracking on it right away (not the first day though).

    I always explain to the kids a few things before I do them. I reassure them that it is not for a grade per se, but that I am looking for their best effort. I also explain that I do this to give them reading material that is appropriate for them and that the test helps me figure out what that is. I mention that if they are reading and know that they made a mistake that they should correct the mistake. Speed is not my priority, I am looking for accuracy. (Fluency is important, but I do not want the kids racing through and making a ton of mistakes because they think fast is better.) I also let them know before the test that I will ask them questions that they probably will not know the answers to (this is the QRI) as it is on the topic that they are about to read, then they make a prediction, then read, then I ask to retell the story, then I ask them a series of questions without them looking a the text. If a student misses questions, I then go back and allow them to look back in the text, and score that separately. 4th graders love to have their reading tested!

    I also set very clear expectations to the class. I explain that if we are interuppted it could skew the test. They are to remain seated and silent during a test. I tell them before the first test that in between I will provide opportunities to sharpen a pencil, get paper, or whatever else they need. I am super strict about this as if my reader is distracted it many times messes up the test.


    If you have another 4th grade teacher in the building that you will be working in, it would be best to check with them first on what they use to stay consistent.
     
  20. misukita

    misukita Rookie

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    Jun 10, 2006

    I'm starting to feel much more confident about teaching 4th grade now_THANKS to all of you who have responded!!!


    One more question:

    What books are a must have in 4th grade because they are either highly successful tools for teaching a particular element or skill, linking to writing, or simply because kids love it? What titles come to mind?
     
  21. Carla

    Carla Companion

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    They have an upper grade DRA kit. It covers levels 40 all the way up to 80. It isn't oral, it is written which is a good indicator of writing skills. We use it for kids after 40.
     
  22. ppax

    ppax Rookie

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    Hopefully your building has a curriculum and resources intact for you. Usually this comes ready to go for you. You may want to compile a list of read aloud books that are consistent with your curriculum or are just highly engaging. My read alouds for this year were:

    City of Ember- the kids LOVED it! I used it to intro economics... the concept of scarcity, supply, and demand. It could be used in other ways also.... it is a highly engaging read aloud. I ended up reading outloud the sequel People of Sparks because the kids begged. The prequel was released in April. The kids begged again, but I instead just circulated copies for independent reading.

    Where the Red Fern Grows (Theme: Persistence/Overcoming challenges)
    Trouble Don't Last (Underground Railroad)
    Bud, Not Buddy (Great Depression)
    The BFG (just funny stuff...at one point the kids laughed uncontrollably for a solid 5 minutes)

    There are more... but I am not sure if this is what your looking for. If there is any chance you can get into your new building to look at what there is and chat with a few of the 4th grade teachers, it would help you a boat load! (If nothing else, grab TE's, the curriculum, check out the reading resources, and figure out what they do for test preparation, if anything.)
     
  23. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sarah Plain and Tall
    My Side of the Mountain
    Mr. Popper's Penguins
    A Wrinkle in Time
    Stuart Little
    Dear America books
    Little House books
    The Janitor's Boy
    Rascal
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Some of my favourite books for this age:
    Frindle
    Stone Fox (easy reading, but an awesome book!)
    The Whipping Boy
    Where the Sidewalk Ends and other poetry books by Shel Silverstein
    picture books (I always do a picture book unit with my class)
    Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
     
  25. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    These are all great ideas!!! One activity that I did with my 4th graders this year that they loved was a "Biography Bag"....I sent home a list of ideas and a brown lunch bag. Students had to choose 5 categories from the list and then bring in one small artifact for each. Some of the categories were hobbies, sports, favorite movie, favorite book, favorite subject, etc. All artifacts had to fit in the brown lunch bag, so students had to get creative with some things. I gave them about 4 days to gather the items and then everyone shared with the class. We all learned a lot about each other through that activity. I had 2 students who were terrified to speak in front of the whole class, so I modified and let them choose a few students to share with. I didn't want to cause a lot of unnecessary stress the first week.
     
  26. MissAmy

    MissAmy Companion

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    Jun 11, 2006

    Gregor The Overlander is an awesome read. I saw a lot of fourth graders toting those around last year.
     
  27. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2006

    Fourth grade books: Shiloh, The Boys Start the War, The Grand Escape, Danger Along the Ohio, Sign of the Beaver, Mrs.Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

    I think it was Carla who asked about the teachers moving: our principal asked us to try this last year when we were in modulars for remodeling - it was a Disaster. I think the modulars were a big part of the problem, however. I taught math and had to take all of my materials (manipulatives, games, worksheets, etc) on a cart with me outside and to a different modular! In the building would be much easier, but I would not want to try it again. We spend a lot of time the first few days training the kids how to move from room to room, and don't have much problem in the halls.
     
  28. Carla

    Carla Companion

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    Jun 11, 2006

    Missy - It would be very hard if we had modulars to move from class to class. There are only 2 of us in each grade. We are planning on having manipulatives in each class therefore the Math teacher will not have to haul stuff back and forth as far as those are concerned. I do think it will be much harder for me due to the fact that I'm teaching all the literacy components. Moving guided reading and lit circle books will be a headache.
     

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