It’s hard to believe another school year is complete. This year will be one that I always remember with fondness; the students in my class were exceptionally kind, eager to learn, and attentive. Pretty much a dream class…
So I’ve been thinking back about the things that really stood out this year. I started Shiloh, the first CIA unit, on the very first day of school. I think that getting into a great book from the get-go worked out well. Gathering the whole class around one book, sharing ideas via the question stems, supporting each other as we dug into the serious work of uncovering the author’s message – all of these were reasons the kids loved our reading time and, maybe, was a first step in building that climate of support and success for everyone.
All the kids in the same, challenging books. Modeling and practicing respectful, encouraging discourse about the reading. Providing enough scaffolding so that every student could be successful, and at the same time, providing challenges for the strongest readers. I think about the progress students made from that very first Retell Summary in Shiloh, to their Castle in the Attic synthesis summary, to their deep thinking about Sacagawea’s life… and on through the year. It’s pretty exciting, and I’m so proud of each one of the kids.
I believe I have developed a clear understanding of the CCSS-ELA through teaching the CIA method, but I also believe that my students developed excellent comprehension skills by using strategies to gain meaning from text. For example, when they compared and contrasted William and Alastor they were not just learning a system or set of steps to get all the points on a compare/contrast question, they were thinking and explaining how these two main characters were alike in some ways and very different in others – and using evidence/examples from a story they were heavily invested in to support their thinking. I wish I could communicate how powerful this teaching seemed to be for my students.
Looking back over the year, our Read Aloud time was an important and favorite part of the day. Kids named the books we read together as some of their favorite parts of fourth grade.