Wrapping up the school year

 Yay! Tomorrow’s the last day of school!

I bet every teacher in the world celebrates the end of the school year. For us, here, it was one of the toughest years- the effects of the pandemic on the behaviors and learning of kids has been very significant. Some days, it feels like you spend 90 percent of your time dealing with children who are having melt-downs, tantrums, or getting in fights. Others are dealing with depression or anxiety and miss a lot of school. When they come, they don’t participate. I can see their suffering, but feel powerless to make a difference.

Tonight, a group of my colleagues and I got together for “Colletti Spaghetti.” Pre-Covid, we would get together about every six weeks; post-Covid, we’ve not yet gotten back into a rhythm. But when we do get together, we sure enjoy it.

(If you’re studying that picture and wondering about the six types of ice cream on the table… yes, that’s six types of ice cream! It’s a potluck and Sherry (yellow blouse) hadn’t had ice cream in a while, so she got all her favorites! Don’t worry- she shared.)

In school, we’ve officially finished our study of fractions. I know they’ve learned a lot… but at this point in the school year, I always wonder if they could have learned more. That’s an important point, given that my two classes of fifth grade math students started out at kindergarten and grade 1 level in September. So, we spend the year trying to “close the gaps!”

Third graders finished a “melty beads” project. Some used patterns and others made their own design. The final product is a necklace or a key chair made by melting the beads together with an electric iron. Thanks to the convent… which had two… I did a terrific job ironing roughly 6.5 bazillion beads across two third grade classes.

My science kids, grade 4, finished working on their rockets in time to have our Launch Day coincide with sunny, warm weather. Here we are on the football field after having successfully launched our rockets.

They are holding up their rockets, streamers flying, before we hustled back inside. Those are streamers you see- we use them  instead of parachutes because of the constant South Dakota wind- which would likely blow our rockets clear into Minnesota! Instead, the streamers slowed the descent just enough.)

We designed and built our rockets using recycled materials. While soda bottles are not particularly aerodynamic, they work just fine for learning about the Laws of Motion. We even learned how to use a special type of protractor to calculate the apogee of their launches. Well, sort of…. darn those rockets go fast!

Below is one of my grade 5 math groups, looking grateful that they didn’t have to do the “Fraction of the Day” activity, which they’d done each day for the past month. We use a different fraction each day. We add, subtract and draw it. We find equivalent fractions. We compare fractions and “prove” with two number lines that one is larger than the other. We do more to fractions than they EVER will again in their lives. It’s a great activity.

They were sad to discover, during about our third week of doing Fraction of the Day, that there is actually an unlimited supply of fractions available.

The fellow in the red jacket was thrilled he’d worn it today, as it was his “most photogenic garment.” (His words- he’s a vocabulary collector!) On the other hand, there’s Randy, the guy with his hood up. He actually looked like that all year long. hehe To his credit, he went from bouncing around the room and doing zero math to … actually sitting in his seat or standing by his table and completing his assignments. That’s an achievement to be proud of!!

Each of the other kids has a story. Each brought a unique Self to class every morning and shared it, for plus or for minus, with the class. For forty minutes every morning, we formed a math community. I’ll miss them as they move on to middle school next year.