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The Upper Elementary Years
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The Upper Elementary Years
Ensuring Success in Grades 3-6


Other Titles in:
Teaching in Primary Schools

October 2008 | 232 pages | Corwin

"This book reminds me that I became a fifth grade teacher because that time in a child's life is amazing and critical. This book should be required reading for every teacher, especially ones going into the upper elementary grade levels."
—Tracy Pinnell, Fifth-Grade Teacher
Sheppard Accelerated Elementary School, Santa Rosa, CA

Help your upper elementary school students thrive and achieve!

A positive educational experience in the upper elementary years sets the stage for a child's long-term success in school. With increased testing and accountability requirements, upper elementary teachers are challenged to help students master required content while responding to each child's unique needs and way of learning. This inspiring book presents a child-centered teaching approach for Grades 3–6, one that helps build students' sense of confidence, belonging, and accomplishment.

Written by a passionate advocate for upper elementary students, this guide offers teachers detailed information about child development and effective teaching practices uniquely targeted for 8- to12-year-olds. Readers will find:

  • A thorough look at how upper elementary children develop as learners, based on comprehensive research
  • Teaching strategies and assessment techniques to help students master upper elementary curriculum
  • A discussion of diversity issues, including race and ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic background, language, and exceptionalities
  • Informative case studies and firsthand insights from students, teachers, and administrators

Gain the knowledge you need to grow professionally and serve your upper elementary students more effectively.

 
Preface
Purpose and Audience  
Background  
Organization of the Book  
Data Sources and Collection  
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
1. Why Focus on Upper Elementary Grades and Students?
Upper Elementary Children and Grade Levels  
Defining Upper Elementary Teachers: Their Practice and the Profession  
Advocating for Upper Elementary Students  
 
2. Development of 8- to 12-Year-Old Children
Development as Learners  
Cognitive Development  
Language Development  
Development as Individuals and Members of Society  
Development of Sense of Self  
Autonomy and Relatedness  
Doing What Is Right  
Physical Development  
Refining the Broad Strokes of Generalizations  
 
3. Children as Members of Groups
Situating Group Differences: Biological, Cultural, and Societal Influences  
Biological Influences  
Cultural Influences  
Social, Historical, and Economic Influences  
Ethnic and Racial Group Affiliation  
Race and Ethnicity: Relation to Achievement  
Race and Ethnicity: Relation to Social Development  
Socioeconomic Group Affiliation  
Socioeconomic Influences on Achievement  
Socioeconomic Influences on Social Development  
English-Language Learners  
English-Language Learners and Achievement  
English-Language Learners and Social Development  
Gender Affiliation  
Gender and Academic Achievement  
Gender and Social Development  
Gender and Physical Development  
Exceptional Learners  
Achievement of Exceptional Learners  
Social Development of Exceptional Children  
The Holistic Child: Mixing Group Identities  
 
4. Individual Developmental Differences
Individuals as Learners  
Variation in Cognition and Intelligence  
Variation in Motivation to Learn  
Variation in Expressions of Creativity  
Exceptional Variation  
Variation in Development of Self-Concept and Social Competency  
Physical Variation  
Summary  
 
5. Children’s Lives Outside of School
The Multiple Contexts of Children’s Lives  
Family and Home  
Friends and Peers  
Neighborhood and Community  
Other Important Contexts  
How Children Spend Time Outside of School  
Adult-Organized, Sponsored, or Supervised Activities  
Child-Driven Activities  
Summary  
 
6. The School Environment: Supporting Accomplishment, Belonging, and Engagement
School Role in Developing a Sense of Accomplishment  
Defining and Measuring Accomplishment  
Adult Expectations for Accomplishment  
Student Expectations for Accomplishment  
School Role in Developing a Sense of Belonging  
Inviting Spaces and Warm Adult Relations  
Belonging Within the Peer Network  
Extending the Sense of Belonging to Family  
Extending Belonging to the Community  
School Role in Engaging Students Academically, Socially, and Physically  
Academic Engagement  
Social Engagement  
Physical Engagement  
School Culture, Organizational Structures, Policies, and Procedures  
Summary  
 
7. The Classroom Environment: Supporting Accomplishment, Belonging, and Engagement
Classroom Role in Developing a Sense of Accomplishment  
Academic Accomplishment  
Social Accomplishment  
Physical Accomplishment  
Classroom Role in Developing a Sense of Belonging  
Belonging in a Community  
Joy and Cooperation  
Democracy and Equity  
Care and Nurture  
Extending Community to Others  
Classroom Role in Developing a Sense of Engagement  
Academic Engagement  
Social Engagement  
Physical Engagement  
Summary  
 
8. Teaching and Learning
Important Knowledge  
Addressing What Students Are Expected to Know  
Addressing Student Interest and Knowledge  
Using Knowledge to Meet Student Needs for Accomplishment, Belonging, and Engagement  
Selecting or Designing Appropriate Assessments  
Assessing Acquisition of Desired Knowledge  
Assessing Students' Prior Knowledge and Knowledge Assimilation  
Using Assessment to Meet Diverse Students' Needs for Accomplishment, Belonging, and Engagement  
Delivering Instruction  
Teaching the Content  
Teaching the Students  
Using Instruction to Meet Diverse Students' Needs for Accomplishment, Belonging, and Engagement  
Importance of Aligning Content, Instruction, and Assessment  
Putting the Pieces Together  
Issues Surrounding Teaching and Learning  
Aligning Content, Assessment, and Instruction to Promote Accomplishment, Belonging, and Engagement  
 
9. Supporting Upper Elementary Students: Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Professionalism, and Advocacy
A Framework of Upper Elementary Developmentally Appropriate Practice  
Actions of Students  
Actions of Teachers  
Characteristics of the Classroom Environment  
Characteristics of the Teaching and Learning Process  
Professional Identity  
Becoming Upper Elementary Teachers  
Supporting Upper Elementary Teachers in the Profession  
National Board Middle Childhood / Generalist Certification  
Advocating for Upper Elementary Children  
Compiling and Encouraging Research on Upper Elementary Children and Teaching  
Examining Policies and Practices  
What Can You Do to Help Upper Elementary Children?  
Developmentally Appropriate Practice  
Professional Identity for Upper Elementary Teachers  
Advocacy  
 
References
 
Index

"In most states, tests designed within the context of accountability mandates target students in Grades 3 through 8. The more we understand about middle childhood, the more we as educators are able to meet children's needs and the demands placed on educators by accountability legislation. The author makes a substantial contribution to this increased understanding."

Lorin W. Anderson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus
University of South Carolina

"This book reminds me that I became a fifth grade teacher because that time in a child’s life is amazing and critical. This book should be required reading for every teacher, especially ones going into the upper elementary grade levels."

Tracy Pinnell, Fifth-Grade Teacher
Sheppard Accelerated Elementary School, Santa Rosa, CA

"Finnan elaborates on the needs for educating upper elementary students: acknowledging their strengths, ensuring their engagement in learning curriculum content, and delineating the required professional development and supports for teachers."

Belinda Williams, Cognitive Psychologist
Miquon, PA

"This book introduces the complex, multifaceted world of the upper elementary school student. With so much focus on standards-based learning, teachers must consider the whole child. The author presents research showing that children come from distinct and different backgrounds that affect the way they approach learning. Educators can use this information to help these children navigate the complexities of their lives and the expectations placed on them."

Renee Ponce-Nealon, Third-Grade Teacher
McDowell Elementary School, Petaluma, CA

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface

Chapter 1: Why Focus on Upper Elementary Grades and Students?


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