Well this week, I made my way into the one fourth grade classroom I support. I read them an amazing new picture book, Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and then book talked a few chapter books. They were sweet, receptive, and just like my visit with the fifth graders, I really enjoyed my time with them.
The day after my visit, I was walking by and I noticed them working quietly. I walked in and saw most of them were working in small groups, but I saw one girl sitting alone with a look of frustration on her face. It turns out they were working on math and she was having some trouble with her assignment.
Now, part of the reason I love my new job is I don’t have to teach math… to kindergarteners. Fourth and fifth grade math scares me more than zombies, but I figured I could at least try to offer emotional support.
Her task was to use a map to find the populations of cities with less than 500,000 and then order them from fewest to most. It was confusing because she had to write the name and population on her paper, but then she’d find a new one and have to erase, rewrite, reorder, etc.
“What other tools do you have to use?” I asked.
She pulled out a little kit and started rummaging through it, finally pulling out some mini Post-It Notes.
“I could write the city and population on these and then put them in order easily and then write them down when I’ve got them all,” she offered, resolving her own problem.
I stood next to her, helping her find the cities, but she really did all the work. When she finished, her teacher rang a bell and it was time to transition, so I started walking away.
“Thank you for your help,” she called after me.
I really hadn’t done anything but stand next to her why she did all the work, but she still thanked me.
In addition to being super smart, these older kids can be so polite and thoughtful.