Leah’s school held an Open House the other night so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on school today vs. back in 1979 when I was a 4th grader.
Here’s the 4th grade hallway. Leah’s school is about 20 years old but still looks very fresh and new. They have everything – a gym, library, cafeteria with a stage, specialized classrooms for music/art/technology, a track and several playgrounds. It’s so nice!
The school I attended for 4th grade was very small. We had classrooms and a library plus a make-shift baseball diamond out back. The lunch ladies pushed a cart down our hallway and we took our trays to eat in the classroom. It had been a black school before desegregation and was replaced in the 80s. Our PE teacher told us not to play in the woods behind the school because “the buck-necked weazel” would get us!!! Haha!!!
Leah’s self portrait includes orange and blue braces and a rainbow top. Girls in 4th grade have always loved rainbows.
Leah’s school library has so many books I remember! Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys plus the Boxcar series and all my favorites by Beverly Cleary.
Our school library did have a card catalog and did not have QR codes on the shelves!
The kids were supposed to fill out each section of the star to tell about themselves – what they like to do, what they hope to accomplish, how they see themselves and how their classmates describe them. I liked that Leah said she wants a doctorate degree in every subject. 🙂
Leah’s school has the exact same water fountains that my school had 35 years ago!!!
Leah’s school has a SPACE program for students to stretch their thinking – same program with the same name from back in my day. Leah’s teacher had them write/describe and draw a metaphorical representation of themselves. (She’s showing me her work in the picture above.) Leah’s class has done really cool projects. It’s her favorite part of school.
The kids still have state history in the 4th grade – just like we did – but they’re learning new things we could have only imagined. Leah has a class this year where they are learning coding, game design, robotics and video production as part of a broader STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. The kids have been using PowerPoint to do presentations since kindergarten or 1st grade. Technology is so intuitive for them.
Teachers still put a label with the student’s name on each desk.
Leah speaks more openly about her faith than I think (?) I did as a child. In both this poem about herself and in the metaphorical activity for her SPACE teacher, she talks about Jesus. In Alabama, students are free to express their faith without reserve. I recall 4th grade being the first year we didn’t pray as a class before lunch. Our high school band director completely ignored that policy change and always had the drum major lead the band in a prayer before we performed – and always arranged for a local minister to lead a prayer over the loud speaker before every football game.
When I was in 4th grade, our textbooks were actual books! Now, they’re all online. As a parent, it’s nice having immediate access to Leah’s school work and test scores. Each child in our city’s school system has a laptop. Very modern!
My school had bean bags we could lounge on – and shag carpets! Some things never change!
Friends are still the best part of the day!