They line up outside my classroom in a less than orderly manner. I make a comment on the situation to which a 6th grader responds, “They’re only 5th graders, they don’t know about lining up”.
According to instructions, the 5th graders file into my classroom with their 6th grade buddy and find a location at a lab bench. Instantly they are bending, stretching, and touching everything within reach. As I observe this adorable can of worms I reflect, “Oh yes, there is a reason I am not an elementary school teacher”. Just getting their attention is a task. Finally, the health teacher helps me with that rhythmic clapping thing they do in elementary to capture students’ attention. Suddenly they are all quiet and facing me. That clapping thing is magic.
They are making a wind-measuring device that will aid in determining the best place to build a windmill (it fits with the MS curriculum). I’m counting on the simplicity of this task making it relatively easy to guide 23 little ones through the process. They eagerly place the eraser over the pencil and insert the thumbtack. I notice many of them require the help of my 8th grade assistants to tie the string.
After each step I need their attention. I try the clapping thing but apparently I don’t have the correct rhythm as the response is a smattering of nonsensical claps. But at least they’re listening again.
After a short discussion on how to measure an angle and how the angle will help us determine wind power, we head outside. On the playground they measure the wind power. We move to the side of the school and then to the front discussing the differences in wind power at each location. They understand that their collective data gives a good idea of what side of the school would make the best location for a wind turbine.
We noisily ascend the stairs and return to the classroom. I debate for a split second allowing them to take their wind-measuring devices with them but realize instantly that the pencils, erasers, and thumbtacks will be disassembled and used in ways I’m sure I can’t imagine. So, I collect them. Wow. 40 minutes with that group is exhausting. They’ve left the room and I realize I forgot to take a single picture. So I take a photo of the pile of wind-measuring devices. “Yes” I reflect, “I’m correctly placed in secondary school”.
The idea is good; to have the 5th grade students follow the 6th grade students around for a full day. They meet the teachers and they get a sense of how a day in middle school feels and what to expect next year. Even the lunch experience is different with choices! 5th graders end their day with anticipation and excitement for the coming year. It’s definitely a worthwhile tradition at our school.
Do you have any good transition ideas to share?