writing with one another,
we need to have a strong
This kind of statement
by a teacher helps 4th
why community is so
important. This isn’t
something we should
Keep things light. Fourth
graders can sometimes
take themselves a bit
too seriously. We can
help them lighten up by
being light ourselves.
Laugh. Play. Be a little
goofy while still modeling
self-control and focus.
A teacher’s lively sense
of humor can go a long
way toward helping 4th
graders relax and enjoy
school. For better or worse, 4th graders tend to have incredible nergy and emotion.
PHOTO BY KEVIN DAVIS
Getting to Know You
soccer, who speaks another language at At the end of a long unit, consider
At the beginning of the year, it’s vital
home, who has a younger sister, and so having a Friday game day, in which
to help 4th graders make connec-
on. One year, I gave students their very students play a variety of fun games
tions and form a cohesive community.
own “wall space” to showcase interests, like Monopoly, Sudoku, and Yahtzee.
Fourth grade can be a time of cliques,
strengths, and pictures of their families. Structure the day so that students play
exclusion, and teasing. Helping stu-
Morning meeting. Beginning each
with a variety of classmates.
dents get to know one another well can day with a morning meeting in which
reduce these problems. The following
students greet one another in a friendly The Middle of the Day
ideas can help.
way, have the chance to share some
“Mr. Anderson! It’s no fair! Jenny said
Getting-to-know-you activities. At the
social or academic news, participate
we were going to be partners in four
beginning of the year, it’s a good idea to in a cooperative activity, and preview
square today, and then she kept getting
spend significant time on activities that the academic content of the day is a
me out!” announces Jamila tearfully as
are fun and engaging, are accessible for great way to help students deepen
she enters the classroom after lunch.
all students, help students make per-
their sense of community throughout
All too often in 4th grade, teachers
sonal connections, and help you learn
the year. For more information, see
spend lots of time setting students up
about students’ social and academic
The Morning Meeting Book by Roxann
for success in the classroom but neglect
abilities. For example, you might create Kriete (Northeast Foundation for
lunch and recess. Predictably, lunch
a gigantic jigsaw puzzle and have each
student decorate a piece in a way that
Class celebrations. Learning celebra-
and recess often become flash points
for misbehavior, hurt feelings, teasing,
tells something about themselves. The
tions at the end of an academic unit can and exclusion. Because 4th graders
puzzle can then be reassembled and
help showcase students’ growth and
can have an especially rough time with
displayed on a wall of the classroom.
achievement. For example, at the end
these issues, teachers need to structure
Another idea is to create a class scav-
of a writing unit on poetry, families can lunch and recess and guide students
enger hunt in which students interview come to a poetry slam in which students effectively.
one another to find out who likes
read selected poems they have written.
Teach lunchtime routines. Even if you