Mike Anderson from Turner Falls, MA understands fourth graders and the challenges associated with teaching them. I fell upon his 2011 article, "The Early and Elementary Years/The Leap into 4th Grade" when I was hunting for something else. I'm glad I took the time to read it. He validated everything I have come to know and love about fourth graders.
Check out the article here!
My big take away was that making time for the routine instruction in the beginning pays dividends. We have choices. If we choose to rush into our curriculum right away, we'll be redirecting and revisiting expectations all year long. Building community is critical in fourth grade where students are industrious, curious, anxious, and emotional.
I know that our Harry Potter theme will help to establish community. My students, upon being sorted, develop a house identity. They quickly learn that their housemates are their tribe and their house is a place where they belong.
What I'd like to add to our routines is an end of the day meeting. Giving my students an opportunity to work on their communication skills, practice listening, and develop empathy will all help to build a sense of community in our room which will undoubtedly go a long way in supporting each student's social, emotional and academic success. I'm focusing on intentional reflection to improve my practice. I know that giving my students a vehicle for the same kind of reflection will help to improve their ability to develop as a fourth-grader. We will start with ten minutes. My students are worth it.