Monday, September 15, 2008

Grade 4 Snapshot

Last week, I visited 4th Grade classrooms. This year's team consists of 8 regular education teachers and an ESE teacher. The team is unique because it includes several different types of classrooms.

1. One team is a co-teach inclusion class with an ELA teacher and Math/Science teacher co-teaching all day. They have an ESE teacher who "pushes in" to service some of the students. Altogether, they have about 44 students.

2. One team is a two teacher departmentalized team. The students spend half their day with the Math/Science/Social Studies teacher and the other half of their day with the English Language Arts teacher. Each of these classrooms have approximately 27 students.

3. One team consists of four teachers and is also departmentalized. The two Math/Science/Social Studies teachers co-teach with a group of about 44 students, and then the students split to go to one of two reading teachers who are in separate rooms. The reading teachers first classes then combine to go to the MSS co-teach in the afternoon.

Regardless of the classroom teaching structure, this entire team works together collaboratively to plan for consistent instruction across the grade level in all academic areas.

While I strolled through 4th Grade, two classrooms were teaching Math. One classroom was in their 15 minute Everyday Math Counts block. The teacher was facilitating instruction and the students were recording their EDC answers on their recording sheets. Students were working on their Daily Depositor and Counting Tape. Math vocabulary was embedded in their conversation. In this classroom, and across the grade level, students are held accountable for their EDC learning through a weekly teacher made EDC quiz. Teachers can then use the common assessment to discuss grade level instructional practices and make sure every student is mastering math concepts and skills.

The other math classroom was right at the beginning of their 60 minute Math Investigations Workshop. Their mini-lesson was focused on the purpose of building an array and things that come in arrays. The teachers were using an egg cartoon to demonstrate and show students how easy it is to count the number of things that come in an array. Mathematical vocabulary was embedded throughout the lesson. During student's work period, students were asked to add items to their student sheet, record the number of things found in the array, record the ways to read that array, and draw the array with the dimensions. It was evident in this classroom that the same EDC math lesson I observed in the other math classroom had already been taught.

In three of the ELA classrooms, the students were in Writers' Workshop. Each classroom was in a different part of the workshop (mini-lesson, work period, or closing) but basically they were working on the same lesson--adding ideas to your seed journal. In the front of each student's seed journal was a Table of Contents. Students have numbered the pages in their journals so they can quickly reference the section according to their Table of Contents. On this day, some students were adding seeds to their Best Life Events and Worst Life Events pages, and some were adding to Artifacts/Objects/Possessions. And, it appeared in one room that students would be doing a quick write about their names after the mini-lesson. As I casually flipped through a few student's seed journals, I could quickly tell that these students were receiving quality instruction, writing daily, and preparing seeds that would develop into great stories.

In the other ELA room, Readers' Workshop was transitioning from the mini-lesson into work period. The class had just finished generating a chart: I am finished with my reading bingo book now what? This important rituals and routines lesson teaches students not to waste any time during reading but to transition from one task into another. Students quietly transitioned into their book nooks, had books on their just right reading levels, and got to work. One student showed me her Reading bingo sheet which I noticed as an artifact in two of the other ELA classrooms. Basically, the bingo sheet ensures that students are reading across genres as they pick their literature.

This Grade 4 visit proved that teachers are communicating about their lessons, setting up firm rituals and routines, and adhering to the workshop structure. Students are developing number sense, reading in their just right books, writing daily, and preparing for a year of great success. I know they will meet all of their goals. :)


Anonymous said...

I like this feedback. It is great to hear we are all on the same page. I would like an update on science and social studies on your next visit.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for capturing what is going on in the other classrooms. It is interesting to hear what others are doing, and knowing that we are working and planning collaberatively, exciting to hear how others are implementing the same ideas.

Meli Launey said...

I agree. I love that we are all doing Reading Bingo, Seed Journals, and getting ideas from Frank, Ralph, and Melissa (Forney). I just wish we had more time in our ELA meetings, I always feel like we have so much to talk about and not enough time to chat:)

Dorry Lopez said...

What a great way to see what is going on in the other classes! We assume that we are following the pacing guide and that we are implementing similar strategies, but acutally seeing pictures of artifacts and reading about the learning taking place in each other's classrooms confirm that we are indeed teaching the same lessons.