Fourth grade . . . a banner year filled with wonderful writing, challenging units, wonderful writing, conceptual math, wonderful writing, novel units with interesting tales, and did I mention, wonderful writing?! The outstanding classroom leaders pictured here are Jane Crisp, Brittany Cole, Jennifer Kids, Shannon Williams, and Susie Dickard . . . and there’s nothing black or white, plain, or ordinary about what they teach, how they teach, or why they teach in 4th grade!
Perhaps you’ve heard of the book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing about the adventures of Peter Hatcher, his little brother Fudgie, baby sister Tootsie, their neighbor Sheila, various pets, and other minor characters is the series. This novel and its cousins (Super Fudge, Fudge-a-mania, and Otherwise Known as Sheila The Great) have entertained young readers since they first appeared in the early 1970s. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first of these entertaining yarns. Peter, because he’s the oldest (and in fourth grade), must deal with Fudgie’s disgusting cuteness, his constant meddling with Peter’s stuff, and other grave brotherly offenses, one of which is almost too much to bear. All these incidents are presented with the big-hearted humor of masterful writer, Judy Blume. Though some of her books for older readers have aroused controversy in the past, the Hatcher brothers and their adventures remain above the fray, where they belong . . . anyway . . . back to my fourth grade tale . . .
Just like the Hatcher brothers, these extraordinary classroom leaders take the raw reading and writing talent our fourth graders present at the beginning of the school year and begin to masterfully weave it into a tapestry of amazing writing products throughout the year. Their educational adventures with their learners, humorous experiences during daily school life, and unique views on a variety of topics and interests challenge each student to think and write beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary. As one fourth grade friend noted, “Mrs. Van, I’m not a fourth grade nothing; I’m a fourth grade someone . . . just ask my teacher!”
Due to growth, we have a large section of fourth grade learners this year at Miller; this year will indeed be a unique challenge in many ways. Your personal assistance is very much appreciated in our 4th grade classrooms this coming year. The one thing you can do to encourage your fourth grader is write–write about everything from a list of groceries to a fun family weekend adventure. Tell stories, write stories, share stories together; turn your verbal thoughts into written expressions so you model to your young writer. The best writers write what they know; you have so much to share with someone. There are many tales to tell in fourth grade (and many I could share about these classroom leaders too!); here’s hoping you take time to share some fourth grade tales with us this year!