3rd/4th Grade Combination class - ProTeacher Community





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3rd/4th Grade Combination class
Old 05-28-2012, 09:31 AM
 
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It's very likely that I'll be teaching a 3rd/4th grade combination class next year. I will have approximately 10 students (2-3 4th graders and the rest will be third graders.) I know two of the 3 4th graders are below grade level, meaning they could benefit from a combination of 3rd and 4th grade skills. The third graders are mostly high level students, which means they are going to need to be challenged with some 4th grade work/activities.

My previous experience is teaching one year in 3rd grade, then 2 years with a 4th and 5th grade language arts.. but we switched classes, so I never had both groups (the 4th and 5th grade) at the same time.

Any advice would be appreciated!!! I know the curriculum for the most part.. I'm just trying to work out the organization of it. I may have a part time aide, but may not.

Another note: We may departmentalize - I may teach 3rd/4th language arts and 5/6th language arts. We aren't sure yet. Is departmentalizing like this feasible? Or would I be better off just teaching a straight 3rd/4th combination?


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I loved this combo
Old 05-28-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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and from my experience, getting any other teachers to help you teach math and social studies is a huge bonus depending on how your curriculum aligns. The other subjects are easy. If you have district consultants- call them! They love to come out and help you (DO IT NOW) and they even bring you aligned year plans if you really get lucky!
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:49 PM
 
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I work in small private school. We don't have access to district consultants.

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.
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Same boat!!
Old 05-28-2012, 06:44 PM
 
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I teach at a small private school.. and last year I taught a 4th/5th combo and next year I am teaching 3rd/4th combo... Almost the same size class as well.. about 14 students.... I LOVE teaching a combined class.. They learn so much..

The biggest tip that I can give you.. Is to stay organized.. Find a system that works for you.. I have a folder that I keep my printed out lesson plans along with emergency info, demerit slips, Late homework slips, pens pencils everything that I need. Then I have another folder that when they finish tests or quizzes they find that subjects section and slide it in the protective pouches...

On my wall I have a laminated chart.. on the chart I have a grid.. their names on the side and the assignment on the top.. When they finish the assignment they place an X in the box (If they have had a good day.. I let them draw a picture as long as they are quick about it) and place their assignment in that subjects holder. On the wall next to the assignment chart I have those folder organizers hung up... Each for a different subject... It worked really really well....

Also when writing on the board I used 3 different colors primarily... for example.... Blue for 4th Black for 5th and Orange if the assignment or quiz is for both classes...

I work at a Christian School.. So we have a Bible class each day.. and I teach just one Bible class... 1 Art Project (If you have to teach that..)

When I review whether its math review, spelling review, or review for tests and quizzes (Which I try to make on the same day) We review as a class... Whether the game are girls against boys... grade against grade... or just teams...

A big thing that I had to teach my kids is that even though there are two grades in the class we are still ONE class... at the beginning on the year I talked about unity and did a few activities to help that....

If you have any questions I will try to help just message me
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Good post
Old 05-28-2012, 07:46 PM
 
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You made me think of more things as it has been a few years for me. Do not separate your grades on two different sides- mix them up to look seamless like one class.

Think outside the box and know you can't cover every single thing in 2 curriculums! Being super organized as the previous poster said is key. Combine as much as possible ie) use ONE spelling pretest and then have challenge/remedial spelling lists that they get to choose words from if they get pretest words correct. Assign them a spelling test partner. Guided reading is easy relatively speaking. Science can be a toughie if your topics don't align but focus on similar skills as well as content and cover as much as you can. I am not sure how many topics you have but we have 5 per grade. I think I covered 8 and I was happy with that.

My biggest tip would be to streamline your procedures/rules/routines and teach until they know it like the back of their hands and revisit OFTEN as needed over the course of the year. This will save you in any classroom!

I like the color coding idea for assignments!

Math can be tricky and may have to be taught separately. One grade could be at a quiet game or seat work in math or in my school they might be silent reading while one group is getting instruction. You do what you have to do to get by. If you have an assistant get her teaching since you would provide lessons (if you are allowed, I encourage my assistant to take reading groups)... Line up your standards in both grades would work as well with the upper grade getting deeper instruction...

I taught my fours French while my three's did English language arts. The three's were better at French than the fours.

Do inquiry type teaching which would work as well provided you strongly teach the HOW to's of this method. Utilize your SMART board and any technology you can.

Subjects like art, gym, health, religion, etc are relatively easy to align and teach the core components of each. If you would like more ideas feel free to pm me as I will dig up my year plans and procedures and you are free to have them. I am not American (I assume you are) but I teach in a Catholic school and some things are universal.


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Old 05-29-2012, 02:17 PM
 
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Thanks for all of your thoughts. You've given me a lot to think about. I am actually a pretty organized person by nature (at least when it comes to work) so that is good.

We have no Smart Boards, I had no internet, and my computer barely worked in my classroom last year. The only way I had any kind of technology was to bring my laptop to work.

For spelling I plan to use Words Their Way, if I can talk the school into purchasing the books. I have the main one, but need the student word list books.

English/Grammar and even certain parts of writing can be combined.

I'm thinking about doing some novel studies to simplify reading a bit. Maybe 9 weeks in the basal readers teaching each group, 9 weeks doing novel studies where both classes would be combined and working together, then repeat. I unfortunately do not have leveled readers which makes it more challenging to do guided reading groups. I do what I can.

I think Math can be combined at times teach the basics and then teach the next level to the 2 or 3 4th graders I will have. Like I said, they are below level and will need review before we tackle their work. I am going to do multiplication facts with both groups and let them earn their way toward an ice cream party.

Some of the Science can be combined, but I don't think it will be possible to combine any of the Social Studies.

I'm thinking about having workstations/centers for one group while I do Science and/or S.S. with the other.

We had an art teacher last year, not sure if we will get to have one this year.

We do a daily devotional and have chapel on Wednesdays. Our daily devotionals are typically 15-20 minutes and I think I'd like to combine it with a Morning Meeting type thing.

Are 3rd/4th graders too old for morning meeting activities?
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:38 PM
 
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Some of the Science can be combined, but I don't think it will be possible to combine any of the Social Studies.
My school alternates Science and SS each year. Example: This year, 3rd grade Science and SS are taught in the 3/4 classroom and next year, the 4th grade books are used.
Can you start a rotation such as that?
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:36 AM
 
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I don't know.

We are hoping that enrollment will pick up next year and we will only have combined classes for this year.

If I teach 3rd grade Science and Social Studies to both groups, it would affect their teachers next year if we are not combined.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:07 AM
 
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If I teach 3rd grade Science and Social Studies to both groups, it would affect their teachers next year if we are not combined.
If not combined, the now 4th graders would jump to 5th grade material, skipping 4th grade Science and SS. To me, that's not a problem. Everything spirals.

Something to think about. It sure would make your life easier. This is one of the pitfalls of having combined classes and I told my school board so! There's only so much a human can do. So...do the best you reasonably can. Your very best will damage your health. I'm speaking from experience.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:17 PM
 
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No- they are not too old at all! I used calendar in 3/4 for math, French, etc. Good time to use your easel for poetry, shared reading, you could do sentence corrections on the board, problem solving, money etc.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:27 PM
 
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Perhaps I could do a combination of the Science/S.S from each grade.

Like pick a unit from the 3rd grade book that I know they are tested on and teach it to both groups, then pick a unit from the 4th grade and teach it to both groups. That way they are each getting a little of both, just in case we are not combined next year. Since most of my incoming third graders are higher level, and my 4th graders will be on a lower level, this just might work. As would doing it all on a 3rd grade level, but I'm not too comfortable the idea of doing that. Our Social Studies curriculum is VERY different for each grade level.

If we are still combined next year.. then the other sections that we didn't get to this year could be taught (at least to the 3rd graders.) 4th graders would just move on to the 5th grade curriculum.


Again, I can't thank you guys enough for your thoughts. This is REALLY helping me. I was really stressed about teaching a combined class.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:09 PM
 
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I'm glad it's coming together in your mind.
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Morning Meetings
Old 05-31-2012, 02:28 PM
 
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Are 3rd/4th graders too old for morning meeting activities?
This is my first year doing a morning meetings and I am teaching 3rh/4th... I have read a lot about them and I have come to the conclusion that I believe that they are at the perfect age for morning meeting..,. In not going to focus so much on the "calendar" becuz by third grade they should have a pretty good understanding of a calendar.. I am going to have one hanging there and change it daily but not worry so much about describing and spending time on it... I also plan to do a devotion, pledges, songs, greetings, morning mind benders, current events, that kind of stuff... im still putting the final touches on it
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loved this combination
Old 05-31-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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I taught a 3/4 multi-age classroom last year and will be teaching that combination for many years to come. I had 9 third graders and 8 fourth graders. I was able to teach grammar, writing, religion(teach in a catholic school), science, and social studies as a whole group. I split them up for reading, math, and spelling. I only did the spelling because it went along with our reading series. I had an aide during math and reading so when I taught the 3rd graders math the aide would take them next door and do math games with them. Then we would switch. I did the same for reading.

For science I did 4 lessons out of the third grade book and 4 lessons out of the 4th grade book. I am going to be making our a specific schedule now that I know I will be doing thos for many years to come. For social studies I did a community project where the students learned about the different communities then voted on what kind of community they wanted to build. We then talked about the businesses we would have in our community. We discussed goods and services we would need to have available. Then we discussed local government and voted on a mayor. We had a city council and committees. The kids then built their city and the mayor and city council helped it happen. This was the coolest project and it taught everything my 3rd graders learned in the social studies book about communities. This project took like 2 months. After that I did a unit on map skills then a unit on government. In January I started using the 4th grade book about regions. This year since I will have the 3rd graders again I will not do the community project instead I think I will do something with government because of the election. In January I will start off where I left off this year.

The number 1 thing I learned that saved me a lot of headaches was I picked 1 color for third and 1 color for fourth. So if I had a math test for 3rd I copied it in purple. For 4th I used pink. If the assignment was for both I used white.

Don't split them up- 3rd on one side and 4th on the other. I mixed them up and I saw some friendships blossom that never would have between a third and fourth grader. If you have any questions PM me and I would be glad to help out.

I loved this combination and don't know if I ever want to go back to just one grade. Next year I will have 22 kids. That will be a little more challenging!
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Old 05-31-2012, 06:18 PM
 
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I also plan to do a devotion, pledges, songs, greetings, morning mind benders, current events, that kind of stuff... im still putting the final touches on it
What kind of songs do you plan to do with your class?

Do you have a book of mind benders or did you find them online?
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Old 06-02-2012, 03:02 PM
 
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I have a couple songs that go with each pledge for example
The American Flag--Star Spangled Banner, or My Country Tis of Thee
The Christian Flag--I am a C... Victory in Jesus...Jesus Loves Me... There are a ton!!
The Bible--I recently found a 10 commandment song to the tune of O Susanna... The Bible Stands... The BIBLE

I have a file of riddles and different things that I have found.. most of them on the internet..
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Advice here too!
Old 05-31-2013, 05:42 AM
 
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This will be my first time teaching a combination class. I don't know my numbers yet. I will have a group of 2nd and 3rd graders. I have always taught 3rd grade so I know how rigorous it is.

I keep reading about how others have combined topics, but how do you do it when one grade has to take the state test and the other grade does not?

I teach in Virginia and 3rd grade is the first year for the SOL test. Third graders take the tests in all 4 subject areas. So, there's no skimping there. I have ideas about combining reading and some of the more major concepts that the two grades have in common. But at the end of the day, I'm not sure how to go about it.

I'm thinking small groups and lots of independent work.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:32 PM
 
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Hello!

I was wondering if you ever departmentalized? A co-worker and myself are looking into team teaching - one of us doing 3rd grade language arts and 4th grade language arts and the other doing the 3rd and 4th grade math/science but at different times - switching classes not a combo class. If you did this - how did it go? Would you recommend it? I am very passionate about and so much stronger in the language arts and would love to departmentalize. I do it now but strictly with 4th graders. We are losing a 4th grade unit so I would have to be self contained next year. We are thinking about doing the 3/4 switch though to avoid self contained! Any thoughts or advice you have - good and bad - would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for your help! Dawn Spataro
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