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Grades


    Re: To Teach Fifth Grade or Younger?
    Sacha Luria


    I'm curious to hear more about the Cornell notes. Is this the
    only homework you give each night? Do the students write a
    summary every single night? Could you tell us more about what you
    do.

    Thank you! Sacha

    Sat, 31-Dec-2011
    > If anyone with experience could
    >> give me any information on your fifth grade experience I
    >> would greatly appreciate it! Thank you so much!
    >
    > I love teaching 5th through 8th. In CA, that means having both
    > a multiple with supplemental authorizations and a single
    > subject credential, which I have. I don't care for the lower
    > grade (primary), because the kids are too dependent for my
    > taste. In fifth, you will encounter some attitude, but if you
    > teach with a constant sense of humor that will quickly
    > evaporate. We play many curriculum related games, act a little
    > silly at times, and enjoy the day.
    >
    > Your biggest challenge, depending where you are, is that you
    > will need to be extremely familiar with the standards from the
    > lower grades so you can quickly identify knowledge gaps. If
    > you make a map for yourself showing what is taught when in
    > which grade, you can identify skills that were not learned
    > earlier and patch those for the low kids. For the kids who
    > need enrichment, make the same kind of map but spiral up the
    > grade levels. For example, we just finished an Algebra I unit
    > for my high performers.
    >
    > You will need to develop the teacher "freeze and stare" along
    > with an arched eyebrow. This is useful for those kids who tend
    > to call out answers while you are teaching, and is much more
    > effective than other methods since the kids who do this tend to
    > be very intelligent and highly involved in your instruction (so
    > much so that to them your lesson is directed to them alone).
    > Stopping mid sentence and being quiet controls the class very
    > effectively, particularly if you then say, "I am waiting on you
    > to listen" in a soft voice. Keeping calm at all times is also
    > necessary.
    >
    > I have a minor in theater, so I use props and body movements to
    > bring home an idea. That may or may not suit your temperament.
    > Kids at that age, however, love it.
    >
    > I use Cornell notes for all subjects, and the kids maintain
    > spirals for each subject. For homework, they summarize a
    > lesson we covered in a short form essay of three paragraphs
    > (even for math). I rotate the subjects they write about. We
    > also use a timer in class for writing, and by the end of the
    > year they can produce a well-executed five paragraph expository
    > essay in 30 minutes. My feedback from our feeder middle school
    > is that the kids do extremely well because they know how to
    > listen, take notes, and summarize. The parents also like it,
    > because they read the homework summaries and know what the
    > child is studying.
    >
    > I prefer U.S. History to California history, so I like fifth
    > grade better than fourth. I also love chemistry and life
    > science, which is part of our curriculum. Make sure you love
    > the curriculum of the level you are teaching. You will be
    > doing four or five daily preps, depending upon whether or not
    > you are required to teach PE (we are). We are also required to
    > complete ALL of the textbook material in math, language arts,
    > and science by the time we do state testing in April. That
    > means we have to come up with a month of instruction using
    > materials we have to provide that are then approved by the
    > District Office.
    >
    > That "gap" month is often a surprise to new teachers. I did
    > not have to face that when I taught middle school (7th), but at
    > 5th there are many more CA standards than we have time to teach
    > earlier in the year (nutrition, health education, family life,
    > art, music, and dance are a few). Fourth doesn't face the same
    > gap, since science and social studies are not tested in fourth.
    > That means that curriculum can be spread out to fill the "gap".
    >
    > The hardest part for me is the amount of reporting that the
    > district requires from fifth. We are seen as the culmination
    > point of elementary, so we are expected to identify any
    > students who require RSP or SDC services who were not
    > identified in lower grades. That means you have to learn to
    > recognize things like ADD, ADHD, Autism, ODD, and similar
    > conditions. There is a lot of paperwork involved, as well as
    > multiple parent meetings. Fourth doesn't have that same hurdle
    > here. We also have many ELL students from various countries
    > who enter the U.S. with older students. We are expected to
    > handle CELDT level 1 students, and bring them up to CELDT level
    > 3 performance in a year. That often means teaching English as
    > a second language and knowing how to use SDAIE techniques for
    > instruction. You are expected to spend at least 30 minutes a
    > day doing individualized ELD instruction with those students
    > who have not been reclassed to English Proficient status. The
    > rest of the students in your room have to be engaged in a
    > silent activity during that time, so be prepared when you plan
    > your day. We also have to identify students who are not grade
    > level proficient in math and reading, and do everything we can
    > to bring them up to speed. That means working with them in
    > small groups, while again having the rest of the class working
    > on some curriculum-related quiet activity. It also means
    > having assessments at hand to administer to determine their
    > proficiency gains. I am expected to have fluency passages that
    > range from K-4 to assess Reading and math assessments for the
    > core math standards from K-4. That can get expensive, unless
    > you have learned how to write grant proposals. Meanwhile, the
    > parents of the high kids expect you to have enrichment
    > materials available in all subject areas for challenge work.
    > Having the resources to fulfill all of the expectations and the
    > time to do the reporting means that teaching fifth takes a lot
    > of your personal time. It tends not to work well for teachers
    > with young families of their own.
    >
    > I hope this information helps you decide. Let us know what you
    > pick.