A Day in the Life: Upper Elementary

Hello, I’m Sanjusri and I’m a Fifth-Year (Fifth Grade) student in Upper Elementary at Follow the Child. I’ve attended FCM since I was in Children’s House and my mother used to be an assistant teacher in Upper Elementary.

When I arrive at school, some days I am a toddler walker, which means I help out at carpool by walking toddlers to their classrooms. One of the toddlers is my little sister, Aadhirai, so I really enjoy this job! When I arrive in class, first I put away everything neatly in my cubby, just as I have done every day since I was in Children’s House. I have to make sure my backpack is hanging and not on the floor so I don’t trip anybody.

To begin our day, we have a circle time with a short discussion. Right now, we are discussing quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of African-American Heritage Month. Today’s quote was “Compassion and nonviolence help us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear their questions, to know their assessment of ourselves. For from their point of view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers and sisters who are called the opposition.” We reflected on how we felt we should speak our mind, but always in a way that did not hurt others. Then Ms. Mary Pat taps the singing bowl and we all have a quiet moment to mentally prepare ourselves to begin our work as the sound of the bowl fades out.

For our three-hour work cycle, we usually have a group lesson at some point and independent work time for the rest. Today I am working on my journal, and then the Fifth-Years are having a lesson on exponents. Yesterday, we had a lesson on Predicate Adjectives and Predicate Nominatives, so the lessons can be quite different from day to day.

Another important thing in our class right now is that we are preparing for a five-day camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, and we’re doing a great deal of research on plants, animals, and even people native to North Carolina. We have each chosen a famous person from North Carolina history to research and present. I chose author Margaret Maron, who is a native of Greensboro. Ms. Maron is still living and I’ve been able to email with her and ask her questions. It’s been so exciting!

We all eat lunch at the tables in our classroom and that’s a nice time to catch up with our friends. Sometimes we have a “wacky day” where we get to dress up in silly outfits, or a “character day” when we dress as a character from a book. After lunch, we do jobs; we are each assigned a new task every two weeks, such as sweeping the porch, wiping down the counters, etc. This week, mine is emptying the recycling bins. Then we have recess – I like to dance around and be silly with my best friend, Natalie. Sometimes, everyone joins in!

Our afternoons vary; some days we have Art, some Spanish, some Music, some PE, and some we are in our classroom to have Literature Circle or class meetings. In Literature Circle, we read chapters from our books and prepare responses to share with our group each week. We can respond freely, wondering about characters and plot or reactions to events in the story, or we can also respond to specific questions our teachers present to us. We also define vocabulary words, make comparisons, use examples from the text to think about characterization or plot development, and find examples of literary devices that we’ve covered in lessons, such as metaphors, similes, and foreshadowing. After we’ve finished the book, we may do a final project related to the book. I am currently reading Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood, which is a fiction book about life in schools during segregation. We are reading this in honor of African-American Heritage month.

On Fridays we have a class meeting to express concerns, thank people, and/or discuss things that we feel we should work on as a class. That’s where the backpack in my cubby thing comes into play. We had a meeting about people leaving theirs on the floor a few weeks ago, so I am sure to be mindful of that even more so now.

Ms. Ruth incorporates movement into our music lessons,  as in this exercise where we are moving to the music and interpreting it with our bodies as well as scarves.

PE is last on Fridays…Mr. Eric is hilarious and makes it so much fun! Broomball is probably everyone’s favorite thing to do because it uses so many fun skills we’ve learned in PE, but it’s still an easily understandable game. Mr. Eric says that Broomball helps us with our hand-eye coordination, movement and fitness, spatial relations, body placement, and using a tool that is an extension of the hand.

3:30 is dismissal time, and my Dad usually comes to pick me up. I am tired from all of the work I’ve done! And I’m happy that our school does not have homework or tests, because we work on so much during the day that we are where we need to be in the curriculum without homework. I’m glad because my brain really needs that rest.

FCM has been another family to me since I was small, and as I approach middle school, I am saddened to not come here every day. But I know that I’m a strong, kind, self-directed, hard worker in part due to my years at FCM, so I know I will be ready for whatever comes next!