High stakes testing caused major schedule upheaval with my morning schedule. Instead of missing my fourth graders for the two week testing period, I invited them come in the afternoon with my kindergarten classes. Fifty plus students in the gym may sound intimidating, and I admit it is not for the faint of heart, but to me it is heaven!
I started by pairing students up; groups consisted of at least one fourth grader, and one or two kindergarteners. Our kindergarten classes are a little bigger than our fourth grade classes. The first portion of the class was spent with the fourth graders teaching their kindergartener(s) to jump a short jump rope. I asked the fourth graders to try to remember what helped them when they were learning to jump and share this wisdom with their “students.” Kindergarteners who could already jump rope repeatedly went on to learn cool “tricks” from the fourth graders. Fourth graders were teaching, modeling, encouraging and partner jumping. I saw incredible growth from the one on one teaching.
The second half of class the fourth graders worked with the kinders in long rope jumping. We reorganized into groups of three. They each took turns being the jumper and being the turner. Again my fourth graders modeled great jumping, taught both jumping and rope turning. It is so powerful to hear fourth graders giving teaching cues, encouraging the little kindergarteners and then getting really excited when they are successful. When I noticed many students having the same challenge, I stopped the students to give a pointer. For example, I noticed that the kindergarteners couldn’t turn the rope if the fourth grader started in the middle. So I reminded the fourth graders they know how to come in on a turning rope. With this adaptation the kinders could get the rope turning and the fourth graders could show off their jumping skills.
It was very exciting for me to see leadership built in the fourth graders and the relationships built between grades. At the end of class the kindergarteners thanked and hugged their fourth grade buddy. I wouldn’t request double classes of different age groups for a long-span of time, but periodically it is divine!