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schoolrocks schoolrocks is offline
 
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First Year Teacher Please help
Old 07-18-2007, 09:57 PM
 
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I Interned in a first grade classroom and planned on teaching first grade after graduation. In fact, I bought material for over a year for 'my classroom'. However, God had other plans for me. I now am teaching fourth grade (in the fall) and feel a bit overwhelmed.

Are there usually centers in fourth grade?

Can I still have a classroom theme or is it immature?

For classroom management is a treasure box appropriate or is it too childish? I was thinking of giving students bucks (play money) for postive motivation and allowing students to 'buy' itmes out of the treasure box.

**Thank you so much for your response in advance. I realize I have a lot of questions, but I want to be on the right track. I am going to create my classroom on August 16th. I am so excited.


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Schoolrocks...
Old 07-18-2007, 11:52 PM
 
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Hi, I am in the exact same position. I student taught in first and have plenty of supplies and lesson plans for that grade. I also feel a bit overwhelmed with the transition to fourth grade. So, I look forward to reading the responses to your questions. On the bright side, everyone assures me that fourth grade is wonderful.
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fourth
Old 07-18-2007, 11:54 PM
 
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I had a theme and a treasure drawer in 5th, so I don't think they'll be too babyish for fourth. Even prizes like Happy Meal toys were a big hit!

Good luck with fourth grade! It's easier to go up grades than to go down them, so count yourself lucky that you're going 1st to 4th and not 4th to 1st.
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4th
Old 07-19-2007, 04:42 AM
 
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I looped with my kids from 3rd to 4th. Only instead of being self-contained, I was departmentalized and only taught math and writing. I love it. They still love the treasure box and classroom bucks(play money); I have both in my room.

Good Luck
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You may also think about...
Old 07-19-2007, 04:48 AM
 
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I am also a new 4th grade teacher so I don't have that much experience either. I know that a few of the classes at my school do an economy type thing and they have other prizes as well. Such as, reading to another class, eating lunch with another class, eating lunch in the classroom with a friend (that is, if you eat in your classroom and your school will allow it) or a no homework pass. I think that the teacher assigned values for these things, just as they would tangible items from a treasure box. If they did not want to buy something out of the treasure box they could choose one of these things. Just an idea...

Also, I student taught at this same school in kindergarten and a lot of my kids had brothers or sisters in the upper grades and they would come read to our class. It was so sweet and it really meant a lot to my kids!


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Old 07-19-2007, 05:41 AM
 
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Don't worry too much! First off, you will LOVE fourth grade! It is a really fun grade to teach. I taught 2nd for years before moving to fourth and it wasn't as much of a change as I thought it would be. As for a theme - by all means go ahead and do your theme. I am doing a camping theme this year. I have done a smiley face theme, a hippy theme, a frog theme... The kids like to think they are 'big' and they will even act like they are too old for some things, but most of them really do still enjoy doing 'kid' things. I think the big thing is to not talk to them as though they are young (even though they are). As for lesson plans, even if you stayed in first grade, you would find that in your own classroom with your own kids many of the lessons that you thought you would use would sit on the shelf. If you can befriend one of the other fourth grade teachers in your building and ask for help, that would be great for you. I know in our area we have mentor teachers for our first year teachers. A classroom economy (money system) can be a bit overwhelming at first if you are not careful - you might want to read some of the threads about it before really deciding. I know teachers in my building that use the card system and treasure box even with the upper grades. Oh, as for centers, yes you can use centers in fourth grade. I use them as a 'things to do when you are finished' activity more than as centers. You will do great in fourth grade! Just relax and know that you will spend a great deal of time next summer changing and developing new 'stuff'!
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moved from 1st to 4th too
Old 07-19-2007, 07:09 AM
 
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I thought 1st gade was home for me. I student taught in it and got my first job as a first-grade teacher. The next year I was moved to fourth--and it! Fourth-graders are FABULOUS!

If you do centers, I recommend Debbie Diller's book, Practice with Purpose. It's for grades 3-6, so obviously stations can be part of a fourth-grade classroom. Here's an overview (in pdf) of literacy work stations.

I used a treasure box for several years along with a point system to earn prizes. I dropped it because I got tired of spending the money and didn't think it was all that motivational. (After not using it, I don't see a difference in behavior.)

Some fourth-grade teachers use a theme. If you want to, go for it.
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Learn4Life Learn4Life is offline
 
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Themes definitely work for 4th
Old 07-19-2007, 08:15 AM
 
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I used baseball for 4th last year (it was my first year teaching) and it was a blast. It just seemed that many different things popped up during the year with the curriculum that pulled it all together. Here are some things I did:
  • MLB pennants from the local sporting goods store on some walls
  • Xeroxed paper baseballs that they colored and labeled with their names on the first day and I placed them on a front bulletin board
  • My rules were on posters and labeled "Team Rules"
  • A poster called "We believe in Team" - they traced their hands, colored and then wrote synonyms that represented the idea of team to them. We discussed synonyms in English.
  • Paper Baseballs-everytime there was a book report or extra book report, I wrote the name of the book, student's name and date read on the baseball and put them up around the room. They had an incentive to get baseballs all the way around the room and they would earn a "treat."
  • Seating: I grouped them a lot (although I even did this with rows). They would gather with their group and decide on a team name which was written on the front board. They also decided on an assistant manager who was responsible for the "secretarial" duties for their team.
  • Team Names on front board: as they re-entered the classroom during the day, the first team ready with books open to the right page would receive a point. The team with the most points at the end of the week received a ticket. (ticket explanation comes next)
  • Tickets: I bought one of those huge rolls of tickets at our local party store for about $5.99 and any time they were on task, did exceptional work/behavior, completed their agenda with parent signature on a regular basis, etc., they would earn tickets. At the end of every month, we had "Shopping Day." I got a Rubbermaid flat tub to store the prizes in and went to the local $1 store and some Oriental Trading Company items and made passes for bathroom, drinks of water, free computer time, homework, etc. Store was called "Top of the Deck" because we live near Dodger Stadium and the kids identified with that.
  • Books: Teammates - used this early in the year. It's about Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey and it was a great launch piece about working together and accepting one another regardless of differences. We also read In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson in January and February - great book - it flowed well with our theme, Chinese New Year and African American history month.
  • Jobs Bulletin Board: I bought a grass vinyl tablecloth, lined it with green tissue, glued green pockets, used sentence strips with students' names on it. The name of the bulletin board was "the Groundskeepers". Rotated their names each week on the jobs.
  • Scorecard poster: Made 3 X's (strikes) and if it was a time when the noise volume was getting to be too loud, I could put up an X so they would know they were getting too loud.
  • Poster in front called "Smith Stadium" but you could do any kind of alliteration - many other baseball venues are called "field" "park" etc.
Just some ideas for thought. Have fun - 4th graders are great!
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:29 AM
 
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Welcome to 4th grade schoolrocks! I'm a new teacher this fall too and like you I spent most of my college practicum's in younger grades. This board is great for ideas (I have so many bookmarked it's not funny). You have no more questions than I do.

You might also want to join us at the New Teacher board. It's where some of the "new kids" get together.

I'm planning a theme for this year. I'm not going all out on it, but it's something I'm incorporating in my decor at least. My experience subbing has shown that kids love a treasure box. In fact, I have a basket full of toys from various fast food places kid's meals. Instead of an adult meal (which I shouldn't have anyway), I'll get a kid's meal and then add the toy to my basket. I have friends and family helping me collect them too and I've got toys out the wazoo. I won't have to furnish a treasure box for a while (except for little odds and ends that don't come in kid's meals).

As for the money, I'm planning to do a classroom economy and have students purchase various rewards like homework passes, extra computer time, etc.

I hope you get some great ideas and good luck in the fall!
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:06 PM
 
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Themes are fine for 4th grade as long as they aren't too childish.

4th graders love stickers and stamps on their papers. They enjoy simple incentives.

The treasure box can work, but rather than physically handing out dollars, I would try implementing a checkbook program. It will help with addition and subtraction skills. Plus, you won't have to worry about the management of the play money.

Good luck this year! I absolutely love 4th graders, I'm sure you will too.


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Thank you
Old 07-31-2007, 10:06 PM
 
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Wow! There are so many wonderful ideas! Thank you to everyone for responding.

*I am so excited to teach fourth grade*

Last edited by schoolrocks; 07-31-2007 at 10:12 PM..
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Old 07-31-2007, 10:07 PM
 
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: )All of your ideas are very helpful, thanks again!

Last edited by schoolrocks; 07-31-2007 at 10:16 PM.. Reason: I was trying to respond to each person. Opps!
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Great theme
Old 07-31-2007, 10:22 PM
 
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I love this theme. I have not ever heard of a baseball theme, but it sounds like a lot of fun, I am considering using it. Thanks for the advice.
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4th grade rocks
Old 08-01-2007, 03:55 AM
 
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I love 4th grade (although I might be biased since I have taught it for 17 years.) You will find that 4th graders are still alot like 1st graders trying to be adolescents. You have to help them find the balance and feel comfortable with being 4th graders. I love them because I don't do "snot." (noses or attitudes)

Many years ago when I discovered that I would have my first 4th grade classroom I found out that I had the job just 5 days before opening day. Talk about being overwhelmed! During that 5 days I did take out time to go to a social event and I was asking everyone "Who was your 4th grader teacher and what is the most significant thing that you remember about her?" It was real interesting to hear the range of answers. Most of it was non-academic.

This forum is filled to the brim with great ideas. Don't feel you have to take it all on at once. Ease into it, start slow. I have evolved over time. I was heard that it takes 3 years of teaching a grade level until we start to feel comfortable. The first year the students teach us, the 2nd year we break even, and by the 3rd year we are ready to teach the students. I believe that because we have chosen teaching as our life we are never done learning, this forum proves that.

The fact that you are seeking out advice shows that you are on the way to being a great teacher. Keep asking questions and observing others. You know using other people's great ideas are a form of flattery! Have fun with your fourth graders!
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4th is great!
Old 08-01-2007, 05:21 AM
 
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You truly will love those 4th graders!

I, too, student taught with the little ones (kindergarten), and thought that's where I always wanted to be. I can remember the first time I subbed in a 4th grade classroom....I was scared to death! I thought I didn't know a thing about the "older" student. Believe me, I was so surprised at how much I loved it!

4th graders are at a wonderful age. They are still young enough to have fun. They still want to "please" their teacher.....another year or so and they care more about pleasing their friends! They can be great, great helpers so let them do it!

These boards are a wonderful place for info. Please private message me if you have specific questions.....I'd love to help!

By the way, I'm starting my 13th year with 4th graders!
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