I think that the second day of school is really the first day of school. It’s the day that the introductions and the pretesting and the discussion about rules and procedures are done … and we really start teaching and learning. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.
We started in earnest on our language arts activities. When I volunteered to take the split class this year, one of my conditions was that I could skip the Treasures anthologies and work with both grade levels at the same time on challenging and interesting literature. We will be doing both independent reading, or Reader’s Workshop, and whole-class reading, or Core Literature, as part of our balanced literacy program. Our first selection for the latter is Louis Sacher’s Holes. It is a not only a good story, but it offers a great way to explore what the Common Core Standards called “text structures.”
We continued our work in number theory with both grade levels. In history, fourth graders explored California geography while fifth graders did the same with U.S. geography. We finished off yesterday’s portraits, and most of them were absolutely splendid!
Teaching two grade levels is not as easy as teaching one, but it sometimes forces a teacher to actually teach better. This year we will be doing a great deal of group work. This is often, I have to admit, a bit noisier than I like, but the student-to-student interaction can make for a much richer learning experience. It allows me to also be the “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage” as the popular saying has it.
Homework: (1) Finish the descriptive paragraph. (2) Do the Holes study guide for chapter 1-4. (3) Fourth grade math: pages 8-9 and “Puzzling Place Values”. (4) Fifth grade math: pages 7-8 and “Competing Corporations”. (4) Addition with regrouping practice sheet.