Here’s more about this week’s featured classroom:
Teacher: Cora Jonker
School: Rosy Mound Elementary School
What makes your classroom special? Our classroom is special because we truly care about each other. It is a warm and welcome place, a home away from home, and every student is respected and valued. Each day, we are actively engaged in the learning process. We know that it is important to take risks and to attempt new learning, even if we don’t get it the first time. Through hard work, we can accomplish great things, and we take time to have fun and to celebrate our successes.
In addition to the curriculum, what are some things you teach your students? I continually model for students that learning is a lifelong process, and you can learn something new every day! I think it is important that we recognize that everyone has strengths and that we can make significant gains as learners when we help each other. My students have many opportunities to support each other and to work as a team. When all is said and done, I want my students to be great listeners, to problem solve, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable. These are all life lessons that they can carry with them wherever they go.
What special project is your classroom working on now? Our all-school read for March is Reading Month is “Malala’s Magic Pencil.” One takeaway from the story is that when a person dreams up the impossible, with action, there can be change. We have been integrating this message into our opinion writing during writer’s workshop. We inquired into the work of speechwriters and looked specifically to the work of Malala Yousafazi. We learned that opinion writers write about things that are close to the heart. We also looked at the craft of an opinion writer and found the significance of connecting with our audience and restating our opinion as we write. When our work on the unit is complete, students will choose one opinion piece to publish and share with others.
How is your classroom involved with the community? My students have many opportunities to make a difference in our classroom, school, and in our local community. Each student has a classroom job that helps with the day-to-day function of our classroom. Students have opportunities to take leadership roles within our school on various committees. For example, many third-graders act as playground mentors for the youngest students in our school. In addition to that, we have found ways to help in our local community. This year we have helped raise money for Bucs Pride and have donated food and money to our local food pantries. We have learned through these opportunities that each small act can make a big impact.
How do you hope what your students are learning now will affect their future? My hope is that when students leave my classroom they know that they can make a difference, and I believe that they will go far and do great things. I hope that they are respectful of others and have the strength to work through adversity. I want each student to approach life and learning with an open heart and an open mind, and to always remember our time together in third grade.