This feature sheds light on the work students and teachers are doing, and it lets the community know what makes each class special.
Here’s more about this week’s featured classroom:
Teacher: Susan Boesen
School: Griffin Elementary School
What makes your classroom special? My fourth-grade classroom at Griffin is unique because of our eager learners, kind friendships, and cooperative spirit. The Griffin fourth-graders care about one another, work together to help all students succeed, and continually seek to make our learning environment a positive space for gaining confidence and growing competence. Each student is valued and deserves to be treated with respect by everyone. We are mindful of creating a powerful learning environment for every individual. It takes all of us to be on the same team!
In addition to the curriculum, what are some things you teach your students? Griffin fourth-grade students are developing growth mindset strategies. All of us are reading books and writing about ways we are able to focus on empathy, perseverance, optimism, flexibility, and resilience. During class discussions, these key components of growing in our lives becomes part of our daily dialogue. When we are solving tough math problems or challenged in social settings, it is essential to draw on these powerful attributes to seek solutions for the difficulties we may experience. We remember that no matter the situation, we always know that there is a solution to any problem. We celebrate successes in our classroom as we encourage one another.
What special project is your classroom working on now? For writing, we are writing persuasive letters about issues that are important to us. We are nearly ready to offer ideas to our peers. We will engage in a sticky note activity to offer advice, notice places for compliments, and nudge our peers forward with questions and suggestions.
For reading, we have been researching non-fiction texts and websites to gather information. Partners have created posters, shared and presented thinking with our classroom, and are now displaying their informational posters in the hallway. New partnerships have been coordinated and we are ready to engage in a carousel activity to share facts and ideas along with diagrams and captions. Following this activity, we will create a class book of information for all of us to enjoy.
Another reading non-fiction project is the study of biographies. We have learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall as a class. After these lessons, each student selected a biography for their personal research. Students are excited to present a bottle biography person and timeline for the life of their person with our class at the end of January. All of us will also study George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin to add to their historical knowledge of our country.
For mathematics, we are becoming exceptional problem solvers by using DEAL (Drawings, Evaluation of the situation, Accuracy for solutions, and Labels for our answers). We are engaging in daily Lesson Checks as we check for understanding, using iPads for ALEKS (a differentiated math APP for all areas in mathematics), practicing fluency facts on the MATH KID APP, and learning skills in our daily lessons for units in place value, multiplication, division, problem solving, charts, tables, patterns, and reasoning. Upcoming units will be for measurement, fractions, decimals, and geometry.
For science, our Griffin fourth graders will begin planning for our Fourth Grade Science Fair on March 21.
How is your classroom involved with the community? Our students are becoming leaders for our classroom, school, and community. Being part of Student Council and POPS (Power of Peer Support) encourages team spirit. These avenues of leadership allow students to grow in planning events and selecting incentives for our school to support our Grand Haven community. Students design posters, write letters of communication for our families, and speak to classrooms along with making announcements on our school intercom system. Our current project in the GHAPS food drive in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As we open our hearts with kindness, we can change the world.
When we celebrate Fun Fridays each month, Griffin students collect food for local food pantries. Another act of generosity is our springtime Math-a-Thon fundraising for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. We are proud of finding ways to make our world a better place.
How do you hope what your students are learning now will affect their future? It is my hope that my student will always remember how they felt in my presence. It is my goal that each individual feels honored and valued. I believe in my students, set high expectations for them, and wish to do whatever it takes to guide each one on the path of learning and growing in academic and social arenas. As I seek to nurture the talents in my students, I hope they will set magnificent dreams for themselves.
As my students move through their years of education, I hope that they will tackle any obstacle to reach their goals. I hope that they will continue to decide to make the world a better place. As life unfolds, it is my wish for my students to achieve success, be grateful for the lessons learned in life, and keep kindness in their hearts for all.