Saturday, January 10, 2004

Several Ideas to Help 4th Grade Students Learn About the Library

Several Ideas to Help 4th Grade Students Learn About the Library. Ideas from a 4th Grade teacher. Includes several assignments she gives her students.

From the site:

When my 4th grade students go to their weekly library class, I have a set topic for them to investigate. In September, with the Rocks & Minerals unit, they each pulled out two pieces of paper at random and looked up a rock and a mineral or gem in the encyclopedias. Another lesson had them look up Pilgrims and Native Americans to read about the first Thanksgiving for a play they were to write themselves. (We put it on the day before Thanksgiving in four acts!) Another great search was for famous composers. Once again, I had them pick two composers from a basket of names. They had to take notes on the composers, making sure they had a famous work (or works,) the birth & death dates, the country of origin, and what kind of instruments they played, if possible. After they had gathered the info from Encyclopedias and non-fiction books, they wrote reports of two paragraphs each on each composer. One paragraph about the composer's life, the other about their music. Then they created posters about them and presented them to the class. Next, we'll be researching Thailand for our upcoming International Day. Our school library is limited, so I encourage the students to visit the public library and get library cards. I give 5 bonus points to students who show me their library cards. The month of Jan. will also be their month for reading a biography for a book report. The book can be found at school or in the public library. This is a good time to introduce the Dewey Decimal System, showing them the categories and locating which category would include a biography about a famous person. The internet research sites such as Yahooligans, etc. can provide additional places for research and opportunities to print out pictures, maps, etc. for reports. The ed. sites show them how to locate appropriate categories and how to narrow down the search. The Encyclopedia Index book is invaluable for this search also. And they also have an incentive for exploring the card catalog to find their assigned topics I give them from each unit. The whole concept of a search mission or a mystery location adventure all add to the excitement of discovering the information they need to add to the class' understanding. We're all in the hunt together.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades.

Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. Our students all learn at different rates of speed. Yet, we are expected to teach all of the students in our class the same material. Some students get lost and others get bored...

From the site:

In most elementary classrooms, some students struggle with learning, others perform well beyond grade-level expectations, and the rest fit somewhere in between. Within each of these categories of students, individuals also learn in a variety of ways and have different interests. To meet the needs of a diverse student population, many teachers differentiate instruction. This Digest describes differentiated instruction, discusses the reasons for differentiating instruction, discusses what makes it successful, and suggests how teachers can start implementing it.


At its most basic level, differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that teacher is differentiating instruction.

Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile: (1) content--what the student needs to learn or how the student will get access to the information; (2) process--activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of or master the content; (3) products--culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit; and (4) learning environment--the way the classroom works and feels.

Content. Examples of differentiating content at the elementary level include the following: (1) using reading materials at varying readability levels; (2) putting text materials on tape; (3) using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness levels of students; (4) presenting ideas through both auditory and visual means; (5) using reading buddies; and (6) meeting with small groups to re-teach an idea or skill for struggling learners, or to extend the thinking or skills of advanced learners.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Inside Kindergarten

Inside Kindergarten. From a former kindergarten teacher who taught a full-day kindergarten class. Descriptions of activities, strategies, thematic units, internet projects, and parent information.

From the site:

Hi, my name is Addie Gaines and I was a kindergarten teacher at Seneca Elementary in Seneca, Mo. for eleven years.
I served two years as assistant principal at Seneca. This year I am elementary principal at Kirbyville Elementary, which is near Branson, MO. This is definitely a new adventure and I am looking forward to it. I continue to stay involved with the early childhood community at and remain in the loop with the early childhood professionals, as well as maintain this site directed primarily towards kindergarten teachers. During my tenure as a kindergarten teacher, I had the opportunity to teach both half and full day programs. After doing both, I am a real proponent of full day kindergarten. I think that it is great!
Come see what we do all day long!!!

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Fiction about Japan in the Elementary Curriculum.

Fiction about Japan in the Elementary Curriculum. This site gives ideas for teachign about with children's fiction.

From the site:

For many children, their first view of Japan comes from story books. Those books can entice, delight, inspire further study, and offer glimpses of a world previously unknown. They can foster open-mindedness and an awareness of other ways of thinking and living. For these reasons, selecting accurate and appropriate books has become a primary responsibility of teachers.


Elementary teachers, often without any formal training about Japan, must make decisions about book purchases that will have a potentially life-long impact on students' attitudes. Choosing books that can meet this challenge has taken on new complexity and significance due to trends both within elementary education and in the world beyond the classroom door. In classrooms across the country, fiction is often the main source of children's information about Japan. Since both pedagogical innovations and inadequate school budgets have contributed to a decrease in the use of elementary school textbooks, teachers must consider the historical accuracy of the books they choose. Innovations such as the whole language approach to reading, new methods of assessing student learning, the encouragement of diverse and multicultural perspectives, the application of theories of multiple intelligences, and the integration of teaching across the curriculum often mean that a student in the primary grades hears a folk tale from another country, does an art activity based on that culture, uses the metric system in the art project, finds out a bit about the flora and fauna now living there, and writes a letter to an imaginary pen-pal. This kind of integration across the curriculum puts a teacher's choices of fiction at the crossroads of the whole curriculum.

Embedded in this integrated curriculum is the teaching of citizenship. Elementary teachers regularly wrestle with citizenship issues, including the relationship of the individual to the group. Many school districts teach citizenship to children who speak a variety of languages and dialects. A book choice can send either the message that "those kids" come from a weird place, or that those kids have a heritage about which we should know more. Books can stimulate empathy, compassion, and a search for solutions to problems we all face. They can teach us that contacts with others generate both conflict and cooperation. Books of fiction provide a safe place to explore life's troubling issues.