Our 3rd/4th grade class strives to create an environment of collaborative learning, student engagement, and creativity. Through individual and group work, young learners develop skills to navigate our diverse world. Students are encouraged to work at their own pace and do their personal best. We look at students as more than just their academic achievements, but as whole people, considering their academic, social, and emotional development of equal importance. We believe in the value of teaching conflict resolution and other life skills, and preserving time for student-led free play and socialization.
The best way to learn about our program is to view a snapshot of a typical day in the 3rd/4th grade class, although it is somewhat difficult to describe a “typical” day due to the nature of taking frequent field trips, having guests in the class, and other community engagement activities. Each day is more often unique in great ways.
Students arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:45. They can play in our gym, read, draw, build, and socialize with friends before class begins.
At 9, we gather in our classroom and make a circle for morning meeting. We start with 5 minutes of silent journaling, then go over the day’s schedule. Depending on the day we might read about and discuss a current event, sing a song, or pose a question for discussion. We warm up our brains for math class with a math routine, such as skip counting around our circle, doing an activity with a number line, or playing a game called “guess my rule”. We often do a number talk as well, where we pose a math equation for students to solve mentally, then discuss the strategies they used to solve it.
After our morning meeting, we switch to our mixed age and ability level math and language arts classes. These are smaller groups (usually 12 students) led by one teacher, with a break in the middle where students can eat a snack and have a short period of recess.
Our math curriculum focuses on mathematical thinking and reasoning, and provides multiple access points to students at different levels. Our language arts curriculum provides a literacy rich classroom, where students experience reading and writing in a variety of media and structures. From independent free-choice to structured writing workshops and reading groups, our goal is to help all students stretch themselves and grow as readers and writers.
From 12-1 we have lunch and recess. Students are free to eat, move, and play throughout the campus. A great deal of awesome, creative, multi-age play and learning happens during this hour.
After lunch, our class either participates in the school-wide Exploration classes (insert link here), which are mini-electives run by teachers throughout the school, or engages in our science or social studies themes.
Two or three days a week we have Body Works, our version of gym class either outside or in the gym.
We close each day with clean-up time, where each student completes their assigned chore in our classroom or a designated outside area.
Family meeting is an important part of empowering 3rd & 4th grade students to participate in creating our classroom community and the democratic process. These meetings are student-led, with several different jobs that help students to practice skills necessary to engage with different groups. Students choose topics to discuss and we work on active listening and nonviolent communication strategies. These meetings really help to bring students together and encourage understanding and empathy.
We believe strongly in engaging with the larger Bloomington community, both by getting our students out in the world on field trips and by bringing community experts into our classroom. Some examples are:
- IU Greenhouse
- Indiana Dunes Learning Center
- Indiana State Museum
- Sycamore Land Trust properties
- The Monroe County Public Library
- IU Wiley House Museum
- McCormick’s Creek State Park
- The IU Books and Beyond Program
- IU Swahili Program
- Lessons from Visiting Experts from Sycamore Land Trust
- Neighborhood walks
- “Everybody Rocks” music program
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